Q&A with Jamie Oliver
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 …
FLASHY FISH STEW SAFFRON SAUCE & GARLIC BREAD
Photo by David Loftus
1 ciabatta loaf
3–4 cloves of garlic
a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bulb of fennel
4 anchovy fillets
4 spring onions
½–1 fresh red chilli
2 cloves of garlic
125ml white wine
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
SERVES 4 | 516 CALORIES
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
GOLDEN CHICKEN BRAISED GREENS & POTATO GRATIN
Photo by David Loftus
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
SERVES 4 | 666 CALORIES
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.