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Food Review: Kerridge dishes are a class act

One of the country’s best-loved chefs, Tom Kerridge opened his first pub The Hand & Flowers in 2005, which became the first to be awarded two Michelin Stars.

Time for a feast
Time for a feast

Following this success, he opened The Coach in Marlow, which quickly earned another Michelin Star thanks to Tom’s fresh and exciting twists on classic pub dishes.

As well as owning several more restaurants across the UK, Tom is the author of nine cookbooks and is a regular on TV cooking shows including Great British Menu as a judge.

In 2017, Tom co-founded the food and music festival Pub in The Park which is touring the UK this summer across nine locations including Wimbledon and Brighton for the first time.

And if that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, he’s been busy cornering the market in great barbecue cook-at-home dinners, for summer.

“This menu is a real celebration of summer,” says Tom. “We’re making the most of fantastic British produce, from scallops to tomatoes, in a collection of dishes inspired by The Coach.”

The meal begins with succulent, hand-dived Orkney scallops. “Scallops have a wonderful sweetness, so we’ve counterbalanced that with the slight acidity of our fragrant lime and lemongrass butter and a kick of salty samphire,” explains Tom. “Baked all together in the shell, it makes a really special starter."

Scallops with lime and lemongrass butter

“Our ale-glazed chicken is a nod to the great British pub, and is something we’ve had on at The Coach on and off for a while,” says Tom about the main course.

The team brines free-range chicken from HG Walter overnight to ensure that it becomes succulent and juicy.

“We then marinate it in local Rebellion ale and malt extract for a wonderful, deep flavour that really penetrates the meat,” says Tom. The chicken comes ready to be reheated at home, in the oven or on the barbecue, until the marinade is thick and glossy, with plenty of rich umami flavour, as well as a touch of malty sweetness.

Chicken with malt and ale glaze

It’s served alongside The Coach’s signature triple-cooked chips, along with tarragon-flecked Béarnaise mayonnaise for dunking.

There’s also a salad of British heritage tomatoes and roasted red onions with crunchy sourdough croutons. “It’s the perfect summer salad,” says Tom, “packed with big, beautiful flavours, and not a lettuce leaf in sight!”

To finish, red and sparkling wine-macerated strawberries are piled into crème patisserie-filled tartlets and topped with honeycomb.

“We’ve flavoured our crème patissière with a touch of balsamic vinegar and cracked black pepper,” explains Tom, “the acidity from the balsamic and subtle hint of pepper works so well with the strawberries.”

There really are no faults to be found – and so there can be no mark other than a ten.

The basics are all spot on. Easy to order, delivered on time with an allocated time slot and packed brilliantly so that ingredients were easy to find, heat and assemble. These type of home dinners have improved in leaps and bounds since the start of lockdown when bright spark chefs decided to pack up their ingredients in plastic tubs and send them out with a few photocopied instruction sheets. Now spring onions are neatly diced by an accomplished chef before being tucked away in a small plastic pot and labelled with the appropriate number.

The dinner started with delicious hand-dived scallops from Orkney – the sort of restaurant-standard ingredients that you’ll never find in your local supermarket. While Kerridge’s box provides ingredients to barbecue the entire menu – okay, maybe not the tomato salad nor the strawberry tart – we opted for the cook-on-the-hob-and-in-the-oven method.

The scallops, therefore, were elegantly cooked in foaming butter before being served with lime and lemongrass butter that added a delicate sharpness to the dish. Heat came from slices of spring onion while salty samphire added a real taste of the sea. The scallop was lovingly cooked, so that it was translucent within – just under, rather than just over – and they were promptly dispatched.

The main was stunning. Chicken in ale and malt was as tender and moist as butter. Brilliantly prepared so that it simply needed reheating in a warm-ish oven, it was exceptional.

The accompanying ale and male liquor was reduced on the hob to a sticky, glaze-ey sauce and the effect was completely divine. The chicken was the star of the show but the sweetness of the ale and the marvellous malty undertones set it apart.

Triple-cooked chips were decadent and spectacular while a pot of béarnaise sauce was creamy and indulgent.

All the more reason for a brilliant salad of peak-season heritage tomatoes, that were like small sweets. A wonderfully piquant dressing gave a hint of acid while croutons provided crunch and Nigella seeds, spring onions and chives completed the dish.

It provided great balance to the richness of the triple-cooked chips and the heartiness of the ale and malt chicken.

Strawberry tart with honeycomb

Dessert was a winner. Strawberries were placed on top of a black pepper crème patisserie, the pepper giving it gentle warmth. They were interspersed with small shards of honeycomb while tiny pieces of lemon balm gave the dish a decorative flourish. It was a restaurant-standard end to a memorable dinner that knocked the spots off competitors in the summer dine-at-home category.

Kerridge is a class act. A chef who’s been at the top of his game for some years and who’s been one of British gastronomy’s real innovators, it really did tick all of the boxes. Easy to order and efficiently delivered, boxed with simple and effective instructions and comprising exquisite ingredients, there was nothing not to like.

When eat-at-home boxes work really well, the effect is the replication of the quality you’d enjoy if you drove to the restaurant in question. In Kerridge’s case, that’s precisely what he provided – without having to fill the car up and pay a king’s ransom for fuel.

There are few boxes as good as this – and it deserves its top marks.



Eat At Home Box, via Dishpatch

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