Day 7/10 of my cookbook challenge, the books and cooks who have influenced my kitchen over the past 40 years: Rick Stein’s Food Heroes.
This book was another thoughtful gift from my lovely Mum, a bit of Indian giving as there were good cake recipes included that she hoped might make their way from my oven to her plate! It’s beautifully laid out and champions our brilliant British food producers. Most importantly though, the great thing about Rick Stein recipes (a bit like Delia’s) is that they always work beautifully in a home kitchen as they are thoroughly tested by his trusty home economists. I’m afraid the same can’t always be said of other celebrity restaurant-owning chefs’ cookbooks that seem to be designed more for the coffee table than the dining table.
Once introduced to his wonderful books through his BBC tv programmes, every new one was pretty much on pre-order and I’ve probably cooked more of his food choices than anyone else’s. There is one recipe in Food Heroes, however, that is just outstanding. It’s the one we’ve made time and again for friends and family, the one most requested and loved of all the things served at the Pigeon Cottage table – the famous ‘Chinese Pork’. It’s a side of belly pork infused overnight with a Chinese spice rub and cooked long and slow over a bain-marie with the best crispy crackling you’ve ever eaten served with a delicious oyster sauce gravy over steamed pak choi. Just the best recipe ever!