Mr Porter Eats
Family-Style Dishes Of The Pros
From a chateaubriand to a Rajasthani curry, here’s how the world's best chefs cook for a crowd
There are few things more convivial or memory forming than gathering round a large table, placing a plate of amazing food in the middle, and allowing the conversation to do the rest. For any family, however, it’s easy to get stuck in a cooking rut (though we mean no disrespect to your life-affirming bolognese or your filet à la pops).
In search of new culinary crowd-pleasers, we asked some of the world’s best chefs for the one recipe they rely on to keep their families sufficiently sated at dinner time. Michelin-starred chef Mr Atul Kochhar, from Jamshedpur, India (where family dining is more of a sacred act than a chore), shows us a barnstorming curry. French maestro Mr Damien Rigollet – who hails from a country where 80 per cent of meals are consumed at home – demonstrates how to execute the perfect chateaubriand. And there’s more. Master these recipes and you’ll never be on washing-up duty again.
(All recipes serve 8, and take no more than an hour to make)
Rajhastani pickled chicken curry
An authentic Indian classic to ladle liberally
Mr Atul Kochhar, chef and owner, Benares
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Pair with: Effervescent lager, such as Cobra, or mango lassi (blend 100ml yoghurt, 50ml milk and a can of mango pulp)
200ml vegetable oil
1⁄2 tsp mustard seeds
1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds
1⁄2 tsp fennel seeds
1⁄2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1⁄2 tsp onion seeds
20 cloves of garlic
10 whole red chillies
300g onions, thinly sliced
40g ginger-garlic paste
4 tbsp tomato purée
1kg boneless chicken thighs, cut into two
40g palm sugar (optional)
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
It may seem like there are a lot of ingredients here, but many will already be in your cupboard. Start by heating the oil in a pan and sauté the spices and garlic cloves. Add the chillies, then the onion and sauté until light brown. Follow that with the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Lastly, for your curry paste, add the tomato purée and 200ml water. Always cook the tomato purée for at least a minute, otherwise it has a bitter taste.
Now add the chicken, palm sugar, if using, salt and lemon juice. Whisk the yoghurt and add to the pan. Simmer gently (don’t boil) for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve in one large bowl with a ladle, and spoon into bowls. Sprinkle coriander on top and serve.
An Andalucian riff on the family favorite – tailor-made for kids
Mr Jose Pizarro, chef and owner, Pizarro
Cooking time: 1 hour
Pair with: A new-style white rioja, such as Contino Rioja Blanco, or cloudy lemon and limeade (zest 6 lemons and 2 limes, then put the juice in a jug with 200g sugar. Pour over 1.5 litres water and chill)
500g chicken, jointed into 6 pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
500g rabbit, jointed into 6 pieces, (ask your butcher to do this)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large tomatoes (ideally the beef variety), chopped
2 tsp pimentón de la Vera dulce (mild smoked paprika)
200g fresh broad beans, podded weight
200g fresh tavella beans (or double the quantity of green beans)
200g flat green beans, sliced into 4cm lengths
1.4 litres chicken stock, warmed
1 pinch saffron soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
400g calasparra (paella) rice
You may be more used to seafood in your paella, but this Andalucían variety is more child friendly, without strange shells and prawn eyes staring back from the dish and scaring your two-year-old niece. (Probably best not to mention Flopsy and Mopsy meat.) Start by seasoning the chicken and rabbit joints with salt. Take a paella pan – or large frying pan – and heat the oil over a medium heat. Fry the meat for 7 minutes, or until the pieces are browned all over. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan, then stir in the paprika. Sauté for 2 minutes before adding the various types of beans. Season again.
Pour in the stock, bring everything to a simmer and leave to cook for 10-12 minutes. Add the saffron water, give it a good stir, then turn the heat up high and scatter the uncooked rice across the whole pan. Stir the rice to make sure it is evenly distributed, then leave it uncovered for 10 minutes to generate a deliciously crispy surface your family will fight over.
After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 8 minutes until the rice is al punto (still with a little bite). Remove the paella from the heat and cover with kitchen paper or a tea towel. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. It might sound like one big waiting game, but then the best food generally is.
Chateaubriand, chips and Béarnaise sauce
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Pair with: P15 Malbec, Patagonia, or redcurrant juice
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp Béarnaise reduction (you can buy this, or make it: in a small saucepan cook 2 chopped shallots, 50cl white wine, 25cl white wine vinegar, 20g coarse black pepper, 10g tarragon and reduce by two-thirds)
200g clarified butter (Lurpak is ideal)
10g chopped tarragon
10g chopped chervil
1kg chateaubriand filet
3 jacket potatoes, washed and cooked then sliced
5g fine salt
5g coarse black pepper
Chateaubriand screams occasion. The theatre of carving individual steaks sets tongues wagging and jaws dropping in equal measure. It's a thick a cut from the tenderloin of the cow that runs along the backbone. It doesn't see much action, making it tender, with just enough fat marbling to bleed into the meat for flavour. Depending on how it's cut, it can serve up to 10. First, however, start with your béarnaise. If you’ve made mayonnaise, apply the same principles. The trick is to take it very slowly, one drop at a time. Place a bowl over a pan of just-boiled water. Add the egg yolks and béarnaise reduction and whisk to a pale cream for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter and ensure it is piping hot. Pour in the butter drop by drop, increasing your pouring speed once the mixture has emulsified and started to thicken. Now add the chopped tarragon and chervil, and stir them into the sauce along with a seasoning of salt and pepper. Allow to cool and refrigerate.
Season the steak well. It’s very hard to over-season steak, as the meat only takes what it can and bleeds the rest back into the dish. Sear in a pan over a very high heat for three minutes with thyme until browned, or golden on the outside. This will seal in the juices and keep it tender. Then roast in the oven for 15 minutes at 180°C (for medium rare).
For great chips, use yesterday’s jacket potatoes. Slice them into 1cm rounds and deep fry in oil heated to 180°C for four minutes. Place the steak on a chopping board, put the chips in a basket and the béarnaise in a pot with a spoon. Slice the steak into 5cm portions, then just sit back and let the team dive in.
Swiss chard cannelloni
Veg and carbs unite for the ultimate in comfort food
Ms April Bloomfield, chef owner, The Spotted Pig
Cooking time: 1 hour
Pair with: Prosecco, such as Fratelli Berlucchi Brut 25 Franciacorta, or raspberry and mint water (fill a Kilner jar with water, a handful of raspberries and mint and refrigerate overnight)
1kg Swiss chard (leaves)
1 medium onion, diced
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 handfuls marjoram
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 box pasta sheets
480ml double cream
225ml whole milk
1⁄2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Small handful basil leaves
Small handful fennel fronds
Sea salt, to taste
For presentation purposes, you’ll need two large enamel dishes (each about 25 x 36cm). Start by boiling the chard for 2 minutes until just tender and tearable. Drain the leaves, and allow to cool. Fry the onion until translucent in the olive oil (for about 10 minutes), add 3 garlic cloves and marjoram and season. Combine the chard in a bowl with the ricotta, a quarter of the Parmesan, the egg, salt and pepper to taste, and then stir thoroughly. This is your filling.
Fill a large bowl with icy water. Grab a few clean tea towels, dip them in the bowl to get them damp, and lay out one on a work surface. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add enough sea salt so it tastes lightly salty. Cook the pasta in batches, 6 sheets at a time, for 2 minutes. Lay the sheets of pasta on the tea towel and, when finished, place another damp tea towel on top so the sheets maintain moisture before you roll them.
Lightly coat the bottoms and sides of the baking dishes with olive oil. Grab a sheet of pasta, lay it on your work surface and spread about 2 tablespoons of the chard mixture along one of the shorter sides of the rectangular shape, leaving a bit of space at the edges so it doesn’t spill out when cooking. Starting from the side with the filling, roll the sheet over the filling into a neat cylinder, transfer it to one of the baking dishes, and repeat with the rest of the filling and pasta. It’s fine if not all of the cylinders line up the same; it looks more rustic.
Now, make the citrusy sauce for the pasta. Preheat the oven to to 230°C and heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large cast-iron frying pan over a high heat until it shimmers. Add the remaining garlic and cook for about a minute, stirring frequently, until it is light golden brown. As soon as it browns, add the cream, milk, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt to the frying pan. Let the mixture come to a full boil, then pour it evenly over the cannelloni. Leave the cannelloni at the edges of the dish unsauced, so they get crispy during baking. Sprinkle two-thirds of the remaining Parmesan over the cannelloni and bake for 20 minutes, or until the patches at the edge are browned. Roughly chop the basil and fennel fronds and sprinkle them over the cannelloni along with the last of the Parmesan. Watch your family fight over the crispy ends.
Turbot, sea aster and salsa rossa
A great British/ Italian dish for any fish-loving family
Mr Dale Osborne, head chef, Terroirs
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Pair with: Aromatic whites, such as white Burgundy 2010 Condrieu, Domaine Pierre Gaillard, or elderflower cordial
4 shallots, finely chopped
20ml sherry vinegar
300g piquillo peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp chilli flakes
100g flat-leaf parsley, shredded
150ml olive oil
Turbot and sea aster
3kg turbot, whole
100g sea aster (can be substituted for any sea vegetable, such as sea purslane or samphire)
Pickle the shallot with the vinegar by mixing together and leaving to sit while you cook the fish. As turbot is so large and thick skinned, it’s very resilient. Treat it more like a steak than you would a sea bass or smaller fish. Rub it with butter, white-side up, and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Check the turbot with a cocktail stick to see if it’s cooked: if the stick goes in easily and the fish feels soft, then it’s ready; if it’s hard and you need to force the stick, then cook for a couple more minutes. Then allow it to rest for 5 minutes so it cooks right through.
While it’s resting, finish the salsa rossa by mixing the other ingredients with the pickled shallots, folding in the olive oil last. Quickly fry the sea aster in a hot pan with a splash of olive oil, finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Plate the turbot in a large serving dish along with the sea aster and finish with a few generous spoonfuls of salsa rossa and allow people to serve themselves.