What do you think of when you hear the words ‘Comfort Food’? I’ll bet you could name five dishes just like that (snapping my fingers here) and maybe plenty more. Gooey bubbling mac and cheese with a crunchy topping, extra crispy around the edges? Yep. Or maybe slow-cooked meatballs, simmering away in a homemade arrabiata sauce, while the fragrance of it all has your family impatiently circling the kitchen. Yes, please.
Is it possible to take comfort food and kick it up a notch? Make it even more comforting? Because I think Jamie Oliver just did that. His latest cookbook is a big, bold, soul-satisfying, lip-smacking comfort-food extravaganza. I feel comforted just carrying the book around the house, actually. Every single recipe features its own flavor-bursting photo (or two, or three) that leap right off the page and onto my palate. This is food I want to cook now, and eat even sooner.
Did I mention meatballs? There are meatballs here (with cheddar cheese inside), and yes mac and cheese (with lobster), but there are also curries, and stews and winter night’s chile. There’s German coffee cake, and sticky toffee pudding. And pastas and cassoulet, and cocktails. If I sound a little anxious trying to describe it all, it’s because this book is so busting at the seams with ideas of what to make and how to make it, that I feel a certain urgency to get started right away. I want those photos (those photos!) to be real in my kitchen. On my plate.
With this week’s fall snap in the air, I sense a comfort food season coming on. Although let’s be clear, there are plenty of grilling and warm-weather recipes in this book as well. And some, like this recipe for Insanity Burger (see? I’m not the only one feeling a kind of crazy excitement here) are perfect for summer or fall, winter or spring. Year round, forever comfort. Isn’t that what we all want?
“Competition for the best burger in London has gone mad. Some burgers are gourmet and piled high with toppings, whereas others are thinner, simpler, wrapped in paper, steamy and sloppy. All I can say is my insanity burger is going to be right up there—the method is almost ritualistic in what it requires you to do to get close to burger perfection. I’ve also used the brilliant technique of brushing the burgers with mustard and a dash of Tabasco Chipotle sauce as they cook to build up an incredible gnarly layer of seasoning.” — Jamie Oliver
* * * * *
This giveaway is now closed.
- 1¾ lbs ground chuck steak olive oil
- 1 large red onion
- 1 splash of white wine vinegar
- 2 large gherkins
- 4 sesame-topped brioche burger buns
- 4–8 slices of smoked bacon
- 4 teaspoons yellow mustard
- Tabasco Chipotle sauce
- 4 thin slices of Red Leicester cheese
- 4 teaspoons tomato ketchup
- ¼ of an iceberg lettuce
- 2 heaping tablespoons mayo
- 1 heaping tablespoon tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- optional: 1 teaspoon brandy or bourbon
- For the best burger, go to your butcher and ask them to grind 1¾ lbs of chuck steak for you. This cut has a really good balance of fat and flavorsome meat. Divide it into 4 and, with wet hands, roll each piece into a ball, then press into flat patties roughly 5 inches wide and about ¾ inch wider than your buns. Place on an oiled plate and chill in the fridge. Next, finely slice the red onion, then dress in a bowl with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. Slice the gherkins and halve the buns. Finely chop the lettuce and mix with the rest of the burger sauce ingredients in a bowl, then season to taste.
- I like to cook only 2 burgers at a time to achieve perfection, so get two pans on the go—a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat for your burgers and another on a medium heat for the bacon. Pat your burgers with oil and season them with salt and pepper. Put 2 burgers into the first pan, pressing down on them with a slotted spatula, then put half the bacon into the other pan. After 1 minute, flip the burgers and brush each cooked side with a ½ teaspoon of mustard and a dash of Tabasco. After another minute, flip onto the mustard side and brush again with another ½ teaspoon of mustard and a second dash of Tabasco on the other side. Cook for 1 more minute, by which point you can place some crispy bacon on top of each burger with a slice of cheese. Add a tiny splash of water to the pan and place a heatproof bowl over the burgers to melt the cheese—30 seconds should do it. At the same time, toast 2 split buns in the bacon fat in the other pan until lightly golden. Repeat with the remaining 2 burgers.
- To build each burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, then top with a cheesy bacon burger, a quarter of the onions, and gherkins. Rub the bun top with a teaspoon of ketchup, then gently press together. As the burger rests, juices will soak into the bun, so serve right away, which is great, or for an extra-naughty experience, wrap each one in parchment paper, then give it a minute to go gorgeous and sloppy.
From Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver. Copyright 2014 Jamie Oliver. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.