Second Helpings of Roast Chicken

22 June 2006
Second Helpings of Roast Chicken

Last year, Simon Hopkinson's first book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories, was chosen by a panel of food experts recruited by Waitrose Food Illustrated as the most useful recipe book ever written. So it's perhaps inevitable that his follow-up scribblings, usefully called Second Helpings of Roast Chicken, should be republished in paperback.

Hopkinson has used the same structure for this book as for the first - if it's not broke don't try and fix it - and has used an ingredient as the basis for each chapter, such as apples, beans, chillies, fennel, beetroot, and chicken, except for those headed curry, ices and gnocchi. These appear in alphabetical order, starting with a short anecdote about the subject and finishing off with two or three recipes. Each chapter is accompanied by beautiful, neat little illustrations by Flo Bayley.

The recipes are drawn from Hopkinson's experiences as a food writer, chef and restaurateur. He's a man of vast experience and taste and knows good wine, good food and good company when he sees it. However, this book isn't, on the face of it, a "cheffy" read, so I think you'll get the best out of it by simply getting hold of a load of seasonal ingredients then flicking through its pages to see which recipe takes your fancy - and if you can't find one, try Hopkinson's first book.

Some of the dishes in this book are on our menu at the Old Butcher's - oyster velouté, for instance (don't miss the hilarious preface to the oyster chapter), and junket with vanilla and nutmeg which, I agree with Hopkinson, is "particularly English".

The recipes are not fashionable in a molecular or Michelin way, but a move back to this type of food in your restaurant would be clever, because good food never goes out of fashion.

Peter Robinson, chef-proprietor, Old Butcher's, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Second Helpings of Roast Chicken
Simon Hopkinson
Ebury Press, £12
ISBN 9780091912321

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