Nigel Slater's new tricks: Do you have a clever twist on a classic dish?
As producer of Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers, I couldn’t wait to see what recipe ideas Nigel Slater would come up with for the start of this new series. So when he suggested taking some British classics and giving them a simple new spin, we all thought it was inspired. Surely we’re all guilty of cooking our favourite suppers time and again and wouldn’t mind a bit of a change, without saying goodbye to them altogether?
The great thing about watching Nigel cook - off and on screen - is how it makes you think about why a recipes ‘works’. It might sound a bit weird but I think sometimes we just cook and eat on autopilot - especially when we’re following a recipe. But if you stop and think about what it actually is you like and why, it can be a bit of a revelation.
Like Nigel says, the reason we all love the classic cottage pie is simple - it has a single winning combination. Something warm, meaty and rich on the bottom and something fluffy and soft on top. It’s more about textures than tastes. So using turkey mince instead of the traditional lamb, and squash mash instead of potato for this new version, suddenly makes total sense.
We’re lucky enough on the production team to try all of Nigel’s food as soon as we’ve got all the shots we need. A great perk of the job! Of course everyone asks ‘what’s your favourite?’ and I can honestly say I loved them all. But on this programme there was one recipe that stuck in my mind.
Nigel’s hand-made pesto ticked all the boxes for me and made me promise I’ll never buy the stuff in the jar again. His twist is the addition of watercress and I hadn’t realised how easy pesto is to make. Nigel told us that he was genuinely chuffed to successfully grow basil for the first time in his life. His previous attempts had always failed, which is why the home-made pesto we see him making in the show was the ultimate reward and a fitting end for all his patience and hard work. I made some after filming and it really was as easy as he’d made it look (and it freezes well too).
Do you have your own twist on a classic dish? Perhaps something you discovered when the shops ran out of a particular ingredient or when you’ve cooked for someone with a special diet? Let us know.
Jennifer Fazey is the Producer of BBC One’s Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers.