What The World’s Best Chefs Eat At Home
Carne asada tacos with salsa fresca, guacamole and crema
The world’s best restaurants are often characterised by food that, if not always “fine”, is technically accomplished. Food that, by design, is difficult to recreate at home, the product of talented chefs who have been rigorously trained, and have access to the best available ingredients. And yet chefs are people, too, who want to make the most of their free time, and eat food that is satisfying, sustaining and easy to prepare (but no less delicious than what emerges from their restaurant kitchens). From one-time Noma head chef Mr Matt Orlando’s carne asada tacos, to Italian master Mr Massimo Bottura’s peasant passatelli, here are six recipes the world’s most exciting chefs turn to for comfort.
It is specifically in the winter months that “you want to eat something hearty with broth, cheese and warmth”, says Mr Massimo Bottura. This – a classic Modenese countryside dish taken from the cucina povera (“poor kitchen”) tradition of frugal home cooking – is his grandmother’s recipe, which she taught the would-be chef when he was five. (It’s “a flavour I grew up with”, says Mr Bottura.) On chilly Sundays around a table with his family, Mr Bottura reminisces about his mother and grandmother, “the women who brought me into the kitchen and showed me that cooking is an act of love”.
Nonna Ancella's Passatelli
- 150g (¾ cup) breadcrumbs
- 100g (½ cup) grated parmigiano reggiano
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Pinch of lemon zest
- 1 litre (35fl oz) chicken stock
- 3 eggs, beaten
Place the breadcrumbs, parmigano reggiano, nutmeg and lemon zest in a shallow bowl. In the meantime, bring the stock to the boil. Add the eggs to the dry ingredients. Mix together in a uniform ball of dough.
Place the dough in a ricer and press it directly into the boiling stock. Cook the passatelli until they surface, about a minute. Serve hot with the stock in a bowl.
“I am a fervent bread consumer – I’m passionate about it,” says Ms Elena Reygadas of her favourite comfort food. Its warming, versatile qualities lend it a particular suitability to the cold season. “This is a crusty and very comforting bread you can eat at any time of day and use to accompany a dish, or eat alone. I especially crave it in the morning,” she says. Despite the inclusion of sugar, this is not a pan dulce (sweet bread); its style – simultaneously sweet, salty and fatty – comes as much from the lard breads of Britain as it does from Mexico.
Makes 24 buns
Sugar Rosemary Buns
- 1.2kg (10 cups) flour
- 800ml (27fl oz) water
- 1½ tbsp salt
- 14g (1 tbsp) dry yeast
- 300g (1¼ cups) lard
- 300g (1½ cups) sugar
- Handful of rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
Combine the flour, water, salt and yeast to form a basic dough mixture. Knead, and after letting it settle for 10 minutes, roll out and smear the lard, mixed with the sugar and rosemary, across the surface of the dough to form a glaze. Cut into 24 small squares and fold each square four times. Place on a greased baking tray. Before baking, ferment at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 230°C (450ºF). Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven up to 250°C (480ºF) for a further 5-10 minutes. The aim is to get the buns golden brown, but if they begin to brown early, cover them with a tray or foil for the final 10 minutes.
Tacos remind Mr Matt Orlando of home. “I grew up 15 minutes from Mexico, so I have a special place in my heart for Mexican food,” he says. It was a cuisine he grew up eating and cooking, especially at “age 15, working in a kitchen in which the cooks were all Mexican”. These days, he gets to eat carne asada about once a year, straight from the airport, at La Posta De Acapulco, his favourite taqueria in San Diego.
Carne Asada Tacos with salsa fresca, guacamole and crema
For the tacos:
- 1.4kg (3lb) flank steak
- 3 Corona beers (or other Mexican-style beer, eg Pacífico)
- Bunch of coriander, coarsely chopped
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- Juice of 5 limes
- 4 jalapeños, sliced into rings
- 3 tbsp salt, plus extra to taste
- Corn tortillas, to serve
For the salsa fresca:
- 6 tomatoes, diced
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
- ½ bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
For the guacamole:
- 4 ripe avocadoes
- Juice of 2 limes
- ¼ bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
For the crema:
- 1 part drained yoghurt
- 2 parts crème fraîche
- A splash of beer
Take the tacos ingredients, except for the steak, and mix until the salt is dissolved. Place the steak in a leak-proof bag or bowl, cover with the marinade and leave for 12 hours or overnight. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry.
Prepare a grill (preferably over hot coals) or heat a heavy-bottomed griddle pan and grill the meat until medium, about two minutes each side. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes before serving, then slice thinly across the grain.
Season with additional salt if necessary. Serve with corn tortillas, salsa fresca, guacamole and crema.
For the salsa fresca:
About 30 minutes before serving, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste.
For the guacamole:
Pit the avocadoes and spoon the flesh into a mixing bowl. Place the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and mash roughly with the back of a fork. Season to taste.
At a young age, living among large Pakistani and Punjabi communities, Glasgow-born Mr Isaac McHale fell in love with Indian food and flavours. “When I am cooking at home and want comfort food, I turn to biryani,” he says. “The combination of rice, onions and spice is one that takes me back to being a kid and teaching myself how to cook.
“I’d go to the local cash and carry, KRK on Woodlands Road [in Glasgow’s West End], 50m from where chicken tikka masala is claimed to have been invented, to buy every spice I could, learn their Indian names and try to figure out their secrets.”
- 50ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
- 300g (1¼ cup) mutton mince
- 4 black cardamom pods
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tsp garam masala
- 20 or so fresh curry leaves
- 6 onions, 3 thinly sliced and 3 finely diced
- 50g (¼ cup) butter
- Large thumb of ginger, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 4 green chillies, finely chopped
- 500g (2½ cups) basmati rice, gently washed 3 times
- 1 litre (35fl oz) hot water or stock
- 1 tsp salt
- Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
- Plain yoghurt or raita, to serve
For the spice mix:
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 6 green cardamom pods, split
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp asafoetida
- 1 clove
- 4 strands from a mace (or scant ½ tsp ground nutmeg)
- 2cm cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
First, make the spice mix. Gently toast the spices, then grind them all together and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350ºF). Heat a high-sided ovenproof pot on the hob. Add the oil, then carefully break up the mince into the pot. Do not stir (if you do, it will slow the cooking and it will start to steam and boil). Adjust the heat so it fries on a medium-high heat. Add the black cardamom.
When a crust has formed on the mince, stir once and repeat. Allow to brown well, add the salt, garam masala and curry leaves. Stir for 2 minutes, then drain in a colander over a bowl. Return the oil and rendered fat to the pan, then add the thinly sliced onions. Fry over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently, so they soften and start to caramelise.
Once soft, strain and return the oil to the pan. Keep the onions on the side. Add the butter to the pan and fry the diced onion gently until soft, then add the ginger and garlic. Fry on a low heat for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, turn up the heat and cover with a lid to allow the tomatoes to soften and break down. Stir often, and adjust heat so they don’t burn.
Add the tomato purée, green chilli and 2 tbsp of the spice mix, still on a gentle heat. Add the mince and rice. Stir to coat, then add the hot water or stock and salt. Put a lid on the pot and turn up the heat to high. Once the steam starts to come out, leave for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes. Take out and rest for 10 minutes. Take off the lid and gently fluff up the rice using a sideways cutting motion with a wet wooden spoon, then stir in the cooked sliced onions and the coriander. Serve with plain yoghurt or raita.
“I love this because it reminds me of holidays and the time I’ve spent with my wife back in Europe,” says Mr Ben Greeno of his recently invented “fridge raid” supper. “I discovered it a year ago, coming home from work one night with few ingredients. I threw it together and finished it off with some amazing seaweed butter made by Jean-Yves Bordier, which we’d brought back from France.” He enjoys it on Sunday nights, after lunch service, when he goes home for some precious family time.
Spelt with roasted cabbage and prawns
- ½ white cabbage, cut in half
- 300g (2½ cups) spelt
- 70g (½ cup) parmesan
- 100g (½ cup) seaweed butter or blend
- 100g (½ cup) butter
- 3 sheets of dried nori
- 1 tbsp salted kombu
- 120g (½ cup) cooked prawns
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350ºF). Roast the cabbage in a pan on the stove until black on the two flat sides, then transfer to the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Cover the spelt in approx 4cm (1.5in) of water and boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, but don’t cool down, and reserve any remaining cooking water.
Chop the roasted cabbage into small chunks and add to the spelt. Return the spelt and cabbage to the pan and add the grated parmesan, seaweed butter and prawns. Mix together until the cheese and butter have melted and emulsified.
Loosen the mix with a little of the spelt cooking water or chicken stock. Add a good squeeze of lemon, season to taste and serve immediately.
“Mulberries are a sign that summer is coming in Australia – the excitement of the holidays and Christmas,” says Mr Dave Pynt. “They have a very sweet, but slightly acidic rich berry flavour.”
He feels nostalgic about this dish, too. “We always had a mulberry tree in our garden growing up, so I’ve been around them from a very young age,” he says. “Although mulberries are always best straight from the tree, one of my favourite ways to serve them is on top of this tart with honeyed Chantilly cream.”
For the tart base:
- 100g (½ cup) butter
- 60g (½ cup) icing sugar
- 20g (¼ cup) almond flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 165g (1⅓ cup) plain flour (or cake flour)
For the tart filling:
- 240g (1 cup) unsalted butter
- 240g (1¼ cups) caster sugar
- 240g (2 cups) almond flour
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Large handful of mulberries, to finish
- Honeyed Chantilly cream, to serve
To make the base, mix the butter, icing sugar, almond flour and salt together until soft and fluffy. Add half the egg until emulsified, then add the rest. Add the flour until it is only just incorporated – don’t over-mix it. Tip onto a lightly floured work surface, and roll out into a sheet 3mm thick. Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Blind-bake in a lined tart tray for 40 minutes at 150°C (300ºF). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
To make the filling, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the almond flour and then slowly incorporate the eggs. Make sure it is well-combined. Pipe the filling evenly into the base and bake in the oven at 150°C (300ºF) for 40 minutes. Five minutes before the end, remove the tart and sprinkle the mulberries across the top. Return to the oven for the remaining 5 minutes. Serve with honeyed Chantilly cream.