Chef was a 5ft 1inch thunder-storm.
She was electric, caustic, irreverent, foul-mouthed and harder than a bent coffin nail.
She kept her hair shaved tight back and sides and sported a jet-black 2 inch tall ‘full-hawk’ on top. She was insanely beautiful and ran The Kitchen like a rock-star, she was one of only a handful of people I have met in my life that commanded my unconditional respect – I would have gladly walked bare-foot over broken glass if she had asked….which she threatened me with on several occasions.
I never knew any other Chef before her – no Ramsey, Pierre-White or Roux – my interest in Culinaria didn’t extend past my local chip shop at this stage and after all I wound up in her kitchen by mistake! So, Chef stamped herself on my DNA as the definitive Head Chef and remains there to this day. Everything I know right down to how I move in my kitchen is as a result of her barked, suggested, purred instruction and my inability to take my eyes off her as we battled through a thousand insane services together.
She was magnetic. She always wore a pristine white kitchen tunic that was more like a nurse’s uniform than chef’s jacket, front buttons undone to a dangerous level and she always wore jet black underwear…..always. This kept the kitchen ‘alive’ and sent shivers down the spines of any and all new waiting and bar staff – she styled herself this way very consciously because it had an affect and very big one at that – Chef used her sexuality to its utmost and The Kitchen ran like a dream because of it….she also threaten to turn one new head bar-man into a eunuch by removing his balls with her shoe.
During the time I spent with Chef she taught me a lot, not just about food, cooking and how to survive a professional kitchen but also about life – before this I had been pampered through University with zero exposure to the big bad world but now I was ‘in the weeds’ and needed a mentor not just in this kitchen but in life.
Life lessons would be delivered over what we ate as chefs in The Kitchen, Chef would be responsible for what that was and one of the most memorable was her beef and mustard pie topped with a soft and crispy mash. On its own this dish could bring about world peace, it is the epitome of comfort food and was the dish we were eating when I delivered the bombshell that I was leaving her…………………….
WHAT YOU NEED – feeds 6 (maybe)
6 chicken fillets
150 grams ’00’ flour
1 carton of butter milk (must be butter milk)
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tbs cayenne pepper
1 tbs salt
2 tps cracked black pepper
2 tps onion granules
Pickled jalapeno peppers
For the Tomato Aioli
1 tbs Sun-dried tomato pesto
1 egg yolk
100mls rapeseed oil
1 tps English mustard
HOW YOU DO IT
Step1: cube the chicken to 1″ x 1″ roughly, plonk into alarge bowl and cover with the butter milk for 12 hours
Step2: make the chicken ‘dredge’ – combine flour, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper and onion granules – you can taste the dredge at this stage it will give you an approximation of the end result ie heat, spice, seasoning.
Step3: make the aioli (basically Mayo) – add the egg and mustard to a food processor on full blade spin then slowly trickle in the rapeseed until the mixture is emulsified and forms a basic Mayo consistency. Then you can add the sun-dried tomato pesto to finish.
Step4: get a deep pan or a wok on the heat and bring the rapeseed oil up to abouyt 190c (you can always check the temperature of oil by dropping in a piece of bread – if it rises to the top and sizzles you are good to go.
Step5: drain the chicken from the butter milk and coat in the seasoned dredge, pat off the excess then back into the buttermilk, drain then back into the dredge again (double dip).
Step6: shallow fry the chicken in about 3-4 batches then serve with a wedge of lime the pickle jalapeno and some good larger!
FEEL LIKE A BEER? TRY THIS: