It’s about this time that our thoughts turn to Masterchef (incidentally, the new series of Masterchef: The Professionals starts next week). We daydream about seared scallops, clafoutis, and John Torode shouting his thoughts at Gregg Wallace (only for Wallace to shout the same thing right back at him, having changed the wording ever so slightly). So when we heard that the mighty Torode was willing to come show us how to cook like a real-life masterchef, how could we possibly say no?
The dish of the day was chicken, the subject of his new cookbook. As we suspected, when it comes to jointing a chicken, the doe-eyed Aussie takes no prisoners: Torode treats his “chook” with the intimate knowledge of an old lover, his hands familiar with every curve and heavy with memories (the metaphor becomes a bit shaky by the time every appendage has been perfectly removed from the carcass).
While many of us opt for the supermarkets’ safely pre-hacked and pre-packed poultry, Torode argues the insanity of spending twice as much money on a fraction of the meat, and believes learning to divide and utilise the whole bird is a skill for life. As with his 2008 book John Torode’s Beef And Other Bovine Matters, it includes comprehensive guidelines for using every last body part, and he casts shame onto those who throw away the bits they don’t understand, or even recognise.
Torode also emphasised to us the importance of taking control of your dinner: “Don’t expect the ingredients to do the cooking for you. It’s about your ability.” (“Don’t expect the dish to do the work, it’s about what you can deliver,” we screamed back at him in our best Wallace mockney.) We attempted his own Thai green curry recipe while he stood over us shouting, “Keep tasting it! Chuck more in!” Naturally, and with a shudder of pleasure, we complied; it was, of course, delicious. Charlie Jeffries
John Torode’s Chicken And Other Birds (Quadrille), is out now