The best of British

By TPN/PA, in Food and Drink · 15-02-2019 11:34:00 · 0 Comments

Sit down for a chat with chef Jason Atherton and he will remind you, several times if needs be, that we are "only on this earth for a short period of time, right?"

So it might be a surprise that the Sheffield-born 47-year-old is only now releasing his first bound recipe collection, Pollen Street The Cookbook. It features recipes that regularly appear on the menu of his flagship restaurant Pollen Street; seasonal, elegant dishes that Atherton feels he and his team have "100% nailed to the floor".

"Number one is flavour, number two is presentation," he says of his culinary priorities. "A lot of restaurants, it's the other way round. For me, it's got to taste great, or there's absolutely zero point to have it on the menu," - or in the book, for that matter.

All the produce - featured on his menu and championed in the book - "is from here" notes Atherton. "I get to travel all over the world, and I will absolutely stake my claim to say that Britain has some of the best produce on the planet, hands down."

He might eat at the world's most prestigious restaurants with his family, but if you ever find yourself at Dubai airport, you'd be wise to look out for Atherton in its Shake Shack outlet.

Dubai is his "hub" - he has a restaurant there and is often travelling through - so if he feels he's been "good enough" in the gym, Atherton will treat himself to a burger, "then I feel guilty all the way back to London."

Surely not too guilty? "It's like everything," he muses with a grin, "if you drink too much wine, it's going to be bad for you; if you drink too much beer, it's going to be bad for you; if you eat fast food every single day, you're going to get obese; if you eat Michelin star food every day of your life, you're going to get obese.

"Everything in moderation: Work out, take care of yourself, eat sensibly when you can - but life's very short, right? If you want to have a Shake Shack, have a Shake Shack; enjoy yourself. It's so good - their buns, my god."



(Serves 4)

2 boned short saddles of lamb, about 475g each (loins and fillets separated)

Meat glue, for dusting

Olive oil, for cooking

Sprigs of rosemary

Unsalted butter, for cooking

Maldon sea salt and black pepper

For the lamb hotpot:

100g gros sel (grey sea salt)

A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

1 large garlic clove

20g grated lemon zest

1 boned shoulder of lamb, about 2kg

Olive oil, for cooking

200g lamb fat

4 large carrots

4 turnips

500g baby silverskin onions, peeled

1 litre Lamb Sauce

2 large Desiree potatoes

125g clarified butter, melted

For the beetroot-stained cabbage:

1 Hispi cabbage

1 bottle beetroot juice (we use 'Beet It')

For the beetroot and blackcurrant puree:

7 purple beetroots

250g blackcurrants

150ml red wine

150ml port

50ml raspberry vinegar

For the purple carrots:

2 bunches of baby purple carrots, trimmed

A few knobs of unsalted butter

To serve:

A handful of baby bull's blood leaves with stems on


Mint sauce


1. Trim off any sinews from the fillets, then set aside in the fridge. Carefully cut off the fat covering the loins so that the fat remains as whole pieces. Lay out the fat on a chopping board and bang the pieces with a rolling pin to flatten them out. Arrange the pieces of fat side by side on a large sheet of clingfilm to make a rectangle large enough to wrap around the loins. Rub the loins with a little salt. Sprinkle a little meat glue on the rectangle of fat, then place the loins along one side. Holding the ends of the clingfilm, roll up to wrap the fat around the loins and form a neat log. Unwrap the clingfilm, then tie the loin ballotine with butcher's string.

2. Put the loin ballotine into a large vacuum bag and vacuum-seal it. Set the bag on a steaming tray and place in a steam oven to cook for 5 minutes. Remove and immediately immerse the vacuum bag in a bowl or tray of iced water to stop the cooking process. Keep in the fridge until needed.

3. When ready to finish the loins for serving, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6. Heat a little olive oil in an ovenproof frying or saute pan and sear the loin ballotine for 2 minutes on each side or until evenly browned. Add some rosemary to the pan, then transfer to the oven and roast for a couple of minutes for medium rare. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

4. To cook the lamb fillets for serving, heat a little oil in a wide frying pan. Season the fillets with a little salt and pepper, then add them to the pan with some rosemary and butter. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side or until evenly golden brown. As they cook, spoon the foaming butter over them to keep them moist and encourage even cooking. When ready, remove the from the heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.

5. Start by making a salt cure. Put the salt, thyme leaves, peeled garlic and lemon zest in a small food processor and blitz together. Tip half the mixture on to a baking tray. Place the shoulder of lamb on the tray and sprinkle the remaining salt cure over the top. Rub the cure all over the lamb with your hands. Cover the tray with clingfilm and set aside in the fridge to cure for 4 hours.

6. Rinse off the salt cure from the lamb shoulder and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat and sear the lamb shoulder for about 2 minutes on each side or until evenly golden brown. Remove to a tray and leave to cool. Once cooled, put the lamb shoulder into a vacuum bag and add the lamb fat. Vacuum-seal the bag, then gently cook the lamb in a sous vide machine (or water bath) heated to 84°C for 8-10 hours. When ready, the lamb should be soft and tender. Remove from the sous vide and leave to cool completely in the bag to prevent the lamb from drying out.

7. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and turnips and chop into roughly 2cm dice. Heat a little olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Add the carrots, turnips and onions with a little seasoning and fry the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until tender and golden brown.

8. Roughly chop the lamb shoulder into 2cm dice. Add to the pan along with the lamb sauce and season well to taste. As soon as the mixture is heated through, remove the pan from the heat. Spoon the lamb mixture into 4-6 individual ovenproof serving pots.

9. Peel the potatoes and thinly slice them on a mandoline. Pile the slices into short stacks and stamp out neat discs with a 3cm round pastry cutter. Working quickly, before they discolour, arrange the potato discs, overlapping, on top of the lamb mixture in each individual pot. Brush the potatoes generously with clarified butter and season well with sea salt.

10. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/Gas Mark 3. Place the pots on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, turning the pots every 5 minutes to ensure that the potatoes colour evenly. The lamb hotpots are done when the potatoes are golden brown and tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a knife.

11. For the beetroot-stained cabbage, trim off the base of the cabbage and separate the leaves. Trim the hard stalk from each leaf, then place the leaves in a pan. Pour over the beetroot juice and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the cabbage leaves are tender and stained purple colour. Leave to cool completely in the juice.

12. For the beetroot and blackcurrant puree, peel and coarsely grate the beetroots, then place in a pan with all the other ingredients. Bring to a vigorous boil and cook, stirring the mixture every once in a while, until the beetroot is soft and the mixture has reduced to the consistency of jam. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and blitz until smooth. Season to taste. Pass the puree through a fine sieve into a clean pan, ready to reheat for serving.

13. Blanch the carrots in a pan of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the carrots to a bowl of iced water to cool them quickly and preserve their colour. When you are about ready to serve, lightly season the carrots, then reheat them in a pan of foaming butter for a couple of minutes, tossing occasionally, until warmed through.

14. To serve, slice the lamb loin ballotine thickly and place 2 slices on each serving plate. Cut the lamb fillets into individual portions and wrap each portion in 1-2 beetroot-stained cabbage leaves. Add this to each plate followed by a neat spoonful of beetroot and blackcurrant puree and a couple of purple carrots. Dress the baby bull's blood leaves with a little vinaigrette and garnish the plate with a few leaves. Bring the dish to the table with an individual lamb hotpot and a small serving jug of mint sauce on the side.



(Makes 20 chips)

For the confit potato 'chips':

1kg clarified butter

4 large chipping potatoes (such as Desiree, King Edward or Maris Piper)

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Maldon sea salt and black pepper

For the taramasalata:

4 slices of white bread

225g smoked cod's roe

1/2 garlic clove

600ml whole milk

500ml vegetable oil

A squeeze of lemon juice

For the salt and vinegar powder:

100g malt vinegar powder

20g fine sea salt

To serve:

Bronze fennel fronds


1. Heat the clarified butter in a wide, heavy-based pan to 160°C. Meanwhile, peel and grate the potatoes, working quickly or they will start to oxidise and discolour. Season the grated potatoes, then add them to the hot butter. Fry for five to eight minutes or until almost tender, stirring and moving the potatoes around the pan frequently to prevent them from sticking to the bottom and burning.

2. Tip the potatoes into a colander or sieve set over a large bowl. Leave to drain for about 10 minutes, then season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste (discard the butter drained into the bowl). Spread out the potatoes in a thick layer on a baking tray lined with baking parchment - you want a 2cm thick layer once the potatoes have been pressed. Place another sheet of baking parchment on top, then weigh down with another heavy baking tray. Chill for at least an hour (or overnight if preparing in advance) until firmly pressed.

3. When ready to serve, heat oil for deep-frying to 180°C. Slice the chilled pressed potato into 'chips' 5cm long, 2cm wide and 2cm thick. Deep-fry for a few minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on a tray lined with kitchen paper, then dust with a little salt and vinegar powder.

4. To make the powder, simply mix the two ingredients together. Store in a salt shaker (or an airtight container, if making in advance).

5. To make the taramasalata, tear the bread slices into smaller pieces directly into a food processor. Add the cod's roe, peeled garlic and milk. Blitz the ingredients together. With the machine running, gradually trickle in the oil. Once the mixture has emulsified, add lemon juice to taste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a plain round nozzle and keep in the fridge until needed.

6. Pipe three dots of taramasalata on each fried 'chip' and garnish each dot with a frond of bronze fennel. Serve immediately.



(Serves 16)

For the almond cake:

110g unsalted butter

250g ground almonds

375g caster sugar

45g T45 or plain flour, sifted

310g egg whites (from about 8 large eggs)

Flaked almonds, for sprinkling

For the cherry jam:

250g Morello cherry puree

5g agar-agar powder

To serve:

Icing sugar


1. To make the almond cake, first brown the butter. Put it into a heavy-based saucepan and set over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, continue to heat, swirling the butter in the pan every so often, until it has browned and smells nutty. It should reach a temperature of 140°C. Strain the brown butter through a fine sieve to remove the solids, then leave to cool to about 40°C.

2. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/Gas Mark 3. Mix together the ground almonds, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Put the egg whites into a Thermomix set at 40°C and whisk/blitz until warmed. Fold the egg whites into the dry mixture in two stages, then gently fold through the warm brown butter until just combined.

3. Pipe or spoon the cake mixture into 16 greased non-stick 7cm tartlet tins set on baking trays. Arrange flaked almonds on top of each 'tartlet' in a neat ring. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the baking tray after about 10 minutes to ensure even cooking, or until golden brown and the cakes feel slightly springy when lightly pressed in the centre. Leave to cool completely.

4. Make the cherry jam. Put the cherry puree and agar agar into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring. Let the puree boil for two minutes or until the agar agar has completely dissolved. Pour into a shallow container and cool, then chill for about an hour or until set. Scrape the mixture into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pass the jam through a fine sieve, then transfer to a squeezy bottle.

5. Set a tartlet on each serving plate and dust with icing sugar. Pipe a little mound of cherry jam on top and serve immediately.

Pollen Street The Cookbook by Jason Atherton is published by Absolute Press. Available now.


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