Express & Star

Food Review: Hug in a bowl from Michel Roux Jr courtesy of Dishpatch

Autumn’s here. And with it comes a desire for comfort food. The light, summery dishes of our long, hot summer are no longer at the kitchen table. Instead, it’s time to move onto heartier suppers and warming dishes full of body and depth.

A magnificent duck and mushroom pie

The two-Michelin-starred chef, Michel Roux Jr, has nailed it with two sublime dishes. Both are hearty, filling and hit the mark this autumn.

The first is a confit duck parmentier, or, to you and I, a duck cottage pie, with a cheesy mash topping. It’s a hearty, harvest time pie of confit duck leg and earthy cep mushrooms, topped with airy clouds of mash. It’s served with a bitter leaf salad, and dressed in a perfectly acidulated vinaigrette.

“This parmentier of confit duck is rich and warming – think duck shepherd’s pie,” says Michel.

A favourite dish of grape pickers at harvest time, duck legs are slowly confit to falling-off-the-bone perfection, shredded and folded with earthy ceps in a duck jus.

A fluffy mashed potato topping is scattered with cheese, turning golden in the oven. Bitter leaves in a sharp vinaigrette add freshness.

Frankly, it’s so good that I could eat nothing else this autumn and remain perfectly happy.

The dish is available to heat-and-eat at home, courtesy of Dishpatch.

You know the drill. Go on line, select a delivery date, then wait for DPD to provide your one-hour delivery slot. Then sit back, slam it in the oven and look forward to a restaurant-standard dish in the comfort of your own home.

The confit duck parmentier is listed as feeding four people, though, in reality, we enjoyed six servings from it.

As it cooked, the tender duck legs, which had been poached in their own fat but remained ever-so-slightly pink, cooked through beneath their fluffy duvet of light, buttery mash.

The French have a thing about great mash and Michel Roux Jr’s roots are evident with a fluffy topping that’s deliciously buttery. The cheese topping melted and turned a golden brown colour during cooking, offering the perfectly presented dish. The duck jus in which the confit leg cooked was lip-smackingly good while the generous pieces of cep provided an earthy flavour of autumn and added additional depth.

Truthfully, pies don’t get much better. It was as much as I could do not to go straight back online and order another.

Michel Roux Jr was born into a family of chefs, and began cooking at a young age. In 1991, he took over from his father Albert and uncle Michel Roux Sr as chef-patron of two Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche, renowned for its classic French cooking.

Michel released Le Gavroche cookbook in 2001 and has since written several more books.

He has also become well-known for his countless TV appearances on BBC’s MasterChef, Food & Drink and Saturday Kitchen.

And now he’s nailed it with the perfect autumn dish.

A second Michel Roux Jr classic, available through Dishpatch, is his marvellous chalet-style tartiflette. It’s a simple yet generous dinner of tartiflette, with dressed leaves and crusty baguette to scoop everything up.

“Tartiflette is one of my favourite cheesy dishes – everyone will fight over the crispy, caramelised edges,” says Michel.

Nutty Reblochon cheese, lardons and potatoes are scattered with cornichons and pickled onions for a warming taste of the Alps.

It’s served with a salad of bitter leaves and a crusty baguette. Be sure to save a couple of slices to swipe up the last of the melty cheese.

Few dishes work as well as cheese and potatoes when it comes to brightening dark winter nights and Michel Roux Jr’s tartiflette was perfectly judged.

It took next to no cooking, having been popped into the oven for 30 minutes until the cheese was melted and bubbling. The baguette was added for the final two minutes before cornichons and pickles were scattered over the top, to cut through the richness of the melted cheese.

Salad leaves were tipped into a serving bowl and tossed with house dressing before being served alongside the tartiflette.

The effect was the gastronomic equivalent of sitting in front of a roaring log fire as the soft, molten cheese bubbled merrily.

The bread, nice and crunchy following its two minutes in the oven, provided the perfect vehicle to transfer the sticky, oozey cheese from bowl to mouth.

The salad, meanwhile, cut through the heaviness of the cheese and potato, much as it did with Chef Roux Jr’s confit duck parmentier.

The result was a hug in a bowl.

The tartiflette had bags of flavour from the fabulously nutty Reblochon cheese and tiny pieces of bacon lardons.

It was stick-to-your-ribs stuff, a delicious and warming autumnal supper that needed the all-important pickles to add a note of sharpness and break through a dish that might otherwise have been cloying.

Hospitality is heading for tough times as we move into winter. While restaurants will be mostly fine through autumn as people continue to head out, the hard months will come in January and February when household budgets run out following Christmas, when heating bills are sky high.

And so making hay – or, rather, making pies – now, while the autumn sun still shines is eminently sensible. For all Michel Roux Jr’s accolades and TV success, he’s smart enough to make accessible dishes that people can enjoy and eat in their own home.

With savings to be made on the costs of visiting restaurants, the concept of eat-at-home suppers is here to stay – and, as we head deeper into autumn, Michel Roux Jr has provided one of the best on the market.



Eat At Home dinner,

from Dishpatch

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