Written by Tom Hunt author of The Natural Cook.
At my restaurant Poco in Bristol we have a strong ethos, which I call root-to-fruit. We cook every last morsel of our amazing produce, wasting almost nothing.
It has led me to discover and create some amazing dishes that are now firmly on my list of favourites. The lush green tops from spring onions are perfect for a quick tabbouleh, the woody stems of asparagus make the most delicious soup and who doesn’t like big rustic chips with the skins on, especially when they’re served as chocos fritos with deep fried cuttlefish and garlic mayo.
Everyone knows how to cook a sirloin steak or fillet of salmon but it’s only the adventurous who discover the pleasures of cooking with the more flavourful cuts. These cuts are also cheaper, which allows us to buy even better quality produce that is fairly traded, high welfare and locally produced and all for the same price as a costly joint of poor quality meat.
Salmon bones make the most delicious pho hai san, my favourite vietnamese noodle broth. The meat left on the bone is fatty and gelatinous giving the broth a perfect unctuousness and smooth silky viscosity that couldn’t be achieved in any other way. Pop to your fishmonger and buy some salmon bones for next to nothing and make a quick stock, which will keep for 4 days in the fridge.
For Sunday roast I like to cook extra meat so that I’ve got ready made sandwich fillings for the week. Beef is my favourite sliced thinly, cold and rare with a slathering of creme fraiche, horseradish and watercress. Another post-roast special I like to make is with slow roast shoulder of pork. After dinner shred the leftover meat off the bone with a fork. Within 4 days make a classic pulled pork slider. Heat the meat in a pan with some BBQ sauce and place between your favourite bun. It is so unbelievably good you will look forward to it more than the roast itself.
It’s not often that I have time to make a pie from scratch. When you’ve got a delicious stew that’s one, two or three days old, that’s melted into itself, mellowed and become even more delicious the hard work is done. Mix up a batch of shortcrust pastry, by rubbing together 200g of flour and a 100g of butter and roll out. Cover the base of a small roasting tray fill with the stew and then top with another layer of pastry. Cook in a medium oven for 35 minutes.
Everyones got a bowl of cooked potatoes in the back of their fridge, and if you haven’t there should be. Re-fried with some hefty chunks of chorizo (a great store cupboard ingredient as it keeps so long) they make a great snappy lunch in minutes.
Another of my favourite home recipes is made using leftover rice, fried up the next day with a tin of kidney beans and a splash of coconut milk. It makes the most scrumptious breakfast with a fried egg.
If you are lucky enough to have some food spare at the end of the meal, then get creative and think of ways to up-cycle into an even more delicious dish. Remember that lots of foods improve with age; a stew always tastes better the next day as the flavours mellow and mature. Similarly, a curry’s spices blend together and become one unified flavour and, of course, I can’t forget my favourite breakfast of cold pizza.