Head chef at the River Cottage reveals the hand-hewn hub of his home
My kitchen is … my favourite room in our house. We only finished building last year, and I made the kitchen myself, from timber left over from the roofing beams. The work surface is made from gym flooring, which is a pleasure to clean – it just takes a good scrub, like the deck of a boat. On one side we have floor-to-ceiling shelving, with all our crockery, glasses, jars of herbs, spices and dry goods on display.
My favourite kitchen tool is … our kitchen table. My father built it for us when we moved in. It’s a beautiful ash table, which seats 12. It’s the hub of the house; it’s where we get together for eating and talking, and it’s made a great impact on us as a family. It’s also our visitor’s book – everyone who comes for dinner signs their name underneath it.
My storecupboard staple is … rye flour. Our family loaf is a rye sourdough, which we make once a week, with coriander seeds and molasses.
When I’m starving I … have fried eggs on buttered Marmite toast. If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll add a shake of tabasco over the top.
My culinary inspiration is … the landscape in which I live, and the producers I work with. They are the lifeblood of any good kitchen. West Dorset and east Devon has long been a hub for good food and organic farming.
My best-kept kitchen secret is … freezing fruit. The best thing you can do with a glut of ripe or overripe fruit is to prepare it and pop it in the freezer. It’s then so easy to drop a handful into the blender with some yoghurt for a quick, cold smoothie.
My current obsession is … raw flapjacks. Oats, honey, dates and banana puree – you combine everything, and pop it in the fridge.
Everything tastes better with … pork fat. Whether it’s bacon you’re frying or the roast you’re making, pork fat enhances any dish.
When we go shopping … we’re quite organised. For the bulk of our fruit and veg, we have a weekly box scheme. Dry goods and essentials we get from a little farm shop. Meat and fish comes through my work kitchens, because provenance is really important to me.
For dinner tonight … we’re having cockle and chard rarebit, followed by some paella made from chicken, homemade chorizo and squid.
River Cottage Handbook No.14, Pigs & Pork by Gill Meller (Bloomsbury, £14.99) is out now; rivercottage.net