Q&A with Jamie Oliver

Photo by David Loftus.

Photo by David Loftus.

We ask super chef Jamie Oliver about his dream dinner party, pantry essentials and how to cook a meal in 15 minutes.

15 minutes is not very long to prepare a meal! Can you tell me the three key things that you need to have a hope of preparing a delicious meal in this amount of time?  

It’s actually pretty easy so long as you do what the book says and have all your kit ready.  We’ve had kids doing the meals in 15 minutes, grandparents doing them in 15 minutes – there’s a 9 year old on Youtube doing the burgers in 15 minutes – so you really need the kit and the ingredients ready and just follow the instructions to the letter.  I’m not trying to be your friend with this book.  If you’re going to wander away from the recipe and do your own thing, then it won’t work in the time.

You write that this book was particularly hard work. What were some of the book’s biggest challenges?


 It’s the first time I’ve had a nutritionist on my shoulder every step of the way because I really wanted people to be able to dip into the book any day of the week and not have to worry about calories so pretty much every meal comes in around 500-600 calories per serving.  The timing was also difficult because we test every recipe at least three times, usually more like five times, and we send them out to home cooks to test.  Some of the recipes came back and people couldn’t do them in less than 25 minutes and so they didn’t end up in the book.

What is your favourite recipe in the book and why? 

It’s an impossible question to answer. It’s like asking someone to choose their favourite child.

What are you most proud of about this book? 

I really wanted it to be something which people could pick up on a weekday and be able to get something delicious on the table really quickly and that’s what it is.  I’m very much led by the public and after 30 minute meals, I got a lot of feedback from people saying they loved it but they tended to use it at weekends because they had more time.  Everyone’s time is being squeezed more and more and so 15 minute meals came out of that.

Who would you have at your dream dinner party? 

Elvis, Paul Smith, my lovely wife, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, my mate Andy, Jamie Cullum and Sophie Dahl.  And Gennaro Contaldo.

What would your last meal be? 

Mum’s roast chicken with all the trimmings.

Who is your favourite person that you have cooked for (excluding family!) 

It’s tough to choose because there have been many over the years.  Michelle Obama was lovely.

What is the one food that you would never get sick of eating? 

Chillies. I’m a chilli freak so i could eat them every day.

Staple ingredients that you can’t do without (and neither should anybody else)? 

Chillies, garlic, lemon, pasta, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar.  I could go on …




Photo by David Loftus

Garlic bread

1 ciabatta loaf

3–4 cloves of garlic

a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Fish stew

1 bulb of fennel

4 anchovy fillets

4 spring onions

½–1 fresh red chilli

olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

125ml white wine

700g passata

1 small bunch of fresh basil

400g mixture of fish fillets,

scaled and pin-boned. I like

monkfish, red mullet, John Dory,

sea bass and whiting

400g mussels and clams, scrubbed

clean and debearded

4 large raw shell-on king prawns



1 clove of garlic

1 pinch of saffron

3 heaped tbsp fat-free natural


½ a lemon




Ingredients out Kettle boiled Oven at 220°C/425°F/gas 7

Food processor (bowl blade) Large lidded casserole pan, medium heat


Cut deep crisscrosses into the ciabatta • Squash the unpeeled garlic through

a garlic crusher over the bread, add the thyme sprigs and a pinch of salt and

pepper, then drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil • Rub into the cracks of the

bread, then put into the oven until golden


Halve the fennel (reserving any leafy tops) and put into the processor with

the anchovies, the trimmed spring onions and chilli, then blitz until finely

chopped • Put into the casserole pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn

the heat up to high, stirring regularly • Squash in the unpeeled garlic through

a garlic crusher, then pour the wine into the pan and let it cook away • Pour

in the passata and half a jar of boiling water (350ml), tear in most of the basil

leaves and season with salt and pepper


Cut the fish up so you’ve got four even-sized chunks of each type, then

add all the seafood to the pan (throw away any open mussels and clams

that don’t close when tapped), cover with the lid and boil • Peel the garlic

and bash with a pinch of salt and the saffron in a pestle and mortar, then

muddle in the yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice • When the mussels

and clams have opened (throw away any that remain closed), the fish

will be cooked through (roughly 4 minutes) • Season to taste, then serve

scattered with the remaining basil leaves and fennel tops, the saffron sauce

and garlic bread



Photo by David Loftus


800g potatoes

3 onions

olive oil

1 chicken stock cube

½ a bunch of fresh sage

100ml single cream

30g Parmesan cheese



4 x 120g skinless chicken breasts

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon



200g baby leeks

200g baby spinach

200g frozen peas




Ingredients out Kettle boiled Oven grill on high Food processor (fine slicer)

Medium lidded pan, high heat Large high-sided roasting tray, high heat

Large frying pan, medium-high heat


Finely slice the potatoes in the processor, then tip into the medium pan

and cover with boiling water and the lid • Peel the onions, finely slice in the

processor, then tip into the roasting tray with 2 tablespoons of oil, crumble

in the stock cube and season with salt and pepper • Tear in the sage leaves

and stir regularly, adding a splash of water if they start to catch


On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss the chicken with salt, pepper

and the rosemary leaves, then fold the paper over and bash and flatten

the chicken to 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin • Put into the frying pan with

1 tablespoon of oil, turning after 3 or 4 minutes, until golden and cooked

through • Drain the potatoes well in a colander, then tip into the onion pan,

stir together and arrange in a flat layer • Pour over the cream, then finely

grate over the Parmesan and pop under the grill on the top shelf


Halve the leeks lengthways, rinse under the tap, then finely slice • Put

into the empty lidded pan on a high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring

often • Finely slice the bacon and add to the chicken pan, tossing regularly

• Stir the spinach and peas into the leeks and once the spinach has wilted

and the peas are tender, pile on a board or platter with the chicken and

bacon on top • Serve with the gratin

Recipes © Jamie Oliver 2012


Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals, RRP $49.99, published by Penguin.