Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (2024)

The beating heart of OFM is its recipes, more than 500 of which have been mine. I have been going through them all this month, choosing one for each of our 10 years. Some proved an easy choice because they had received a particularly appreciative mailbag.

It did cross my mind to revisit and correct those that had a fat mailbag for less happy reasons (sorry, sorry!), such as the coffee mascarpone cake icing that seemed to work for me alone, or the filling for the cherry tart that flatly refuses to support its fruit. But in the end I chose a mixture of all our favourites, most of them yours, and a few of my own like the simple grilled chicken leg with basil butter.

I still get a buzz out of sharing recipes. Some people write stories, others tell jokes, I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. A meal shared with strangers. And I can't think of anything I want to do more.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (1)

The deep sweetness of a roasted pepper makes it a suitable candidate for an exceptionally savoury filling. Ihave given several versions of this over the years: the most recent is a filling of highly seasoned minced pork with rosemary, Parmesan and garlic. I think of it as the best yet. (First appeared in October 2008)


onion 1 large
olive oil 2 tbsp, and a little more
garlic 2 cloves
rosemary 3 bushy sprigs
tomatoes 2 large
minced pork 350g
breadcrumbs 50g
red peppers 6 small
Parmesan grated

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Peel and finely chop the onion, put it into a large, shallow pan with the oil over a moderate heat. Let the onion soften without colouring. Peel and slice the garlic, chop the leaves from the sprigs of rosemary and add to the onions. When all is soft and fragrant, chop the tomatoes and stir them in. Cook until the tomatoes have collapsed into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the minced pork and the breadcrumbs. Remove from the heat.

Cut the peppers in half lengthways then lower into a pan of boiling water for 6-8 minutes until they are slightly limp. Remove them with adraining spoon and put them skin-side down in a baking dish. Divide the pork mixture between the peppers then moisten with a little olive oil. Scatter grated Parmesan over the peppers and bake for 35 minutes or so till sizzling.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (2)

Little vegetable cakes, whether made of carrot or beetroot or even parsnip, have been endlessly popular in the column. Taking the genre back to its most simple, these grated potato cakes are still my favourite of all. A vegetarian answer to the fishcake. (May 2009)


potatoes 250g
carrot 1 medium-sized
feta 200g
dill 2 heaped tbsp, chopped
eggs 2
olive oil a little

For the herb sauce:

natural yoghurt 6 heaped tbsp
chopped mint and parsley 2 heaped tbsp

Scrub the potatoes and the carrot then grate them coarsely. This is best done in a food processor. Squeeze any moisture from the shredded potatoes with your fists then season with black pepper. Crumble the feta over the potatoes and carrot and add the dill. Beat the eggs just enough to mix them, then stir them into the potatoes.

Warm a shallow layer of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Remove alarge spoonful of the potato mixture, squash it gently into a patty and lower it into the hot oil. Repeat this with as many as you can get in, leaving space to flip them. Do not attempt to move the patties until they have formed a crust on the underside. Carefully flip each patty with a palette knife or fish slice. They may collapse a little, but just push them back into shape. When both sides are golden, lift and drain briefly on kitchen paper then serve. To make the herb sauce, mix the ingredients and season with alittle salt.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (3)

Of all the quick pasta suppers I have up my sleeve, this is probably the one Iturn to most often. The original version contained thin shavings of Parmesan but Inow find agoat's or sheep's cheese perks the whole thing up. (April 2005)


preserved artichokes 250g
lemon 1 large, finely grated zest and juice
olive oil
parsley a small bunch
orecchiette 150g
goat's or sheep's cheese 150g
green olives 20

Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta. Cut the artichokes in thick slices and drop them into a bowl. Add the grated lemon zest and juice. Stir in four tablespoons of olive oil and aseasoning of salt and pepper. Chop or tear the parsley leaves and add to the artichokes.

Salt the boiling water, add the pasta, then cook till tender (about 9 minutes). Drain the pasta and toss with the artichokes. Divide between two bowls and serve with thin slices of cheese.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (4)

I love the idea that you can simply season adish of vegetables then leave it in the oven to get on with things by itself. These roast tomatoes make aweekly appearance in my kitchen throughout the summer. (June 2009)


tomatoes (large, but not beefsteak) 6
thyme a few bushy sprigs
olive oil
garlic 2 cloves
fresh white breadcrumbs 80g
anchovy fillets 6

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Slice the tomatoes in half and lay them cut-side up in a shallow baking dish or roasting tin. Remove the thyme leaves from their stems and put them in asmall mixing bowl with 80ml of olive oil. Peel and finely crush the garlic cloves and stir into the olive oil with a generous grinding of sea salt and black pepper.

Stir the breadcrumbs into the oil with the anchovy fillets, roughly chopped. Spoon over the tomatoes and bake for 40 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender and the crumbs lightly crisp.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (5)

Baked till they are so tender you can crush them between your fingers and thumb, these soft, creamy onions are probably my favourite accompaniment to roast lamb or cold roast beef. But they make a sound main course, too. I eat them and their cheesy sauce with mounds of blandly comforting brown rice, steamed with acinnamon stick and a couple of cloves. The recipe has altered from the original in that I now add a few thyme leaves to flavour the cream. (February 2004)


onions 4 medium to large
whipping or double cream 300ml
thyme the leaves from 3 sprigs
grated Parmesan a good handful

To serve: steamed brown rice for 4

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Peel the onions and bring to the boil in a large, deep pot of water. Leave at a bright simmer for about 25 minutes until tender. Lift them out with a draining spoon. Slice the onions in half from root to tip and put them cut-side down in an ovenproof dish. Mix the cream and thyme leaves and tip over the onions. Season with salt, pepper and the grated Parmesan and bake for 25-35 minutes till golden and bubbling.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (6)

The snow-white flakes and rust-coloured cream of crab meat are famously shaped into crisp, shallow cakes, fried in oil or butter. American recipes will be rich with mayonnaise, bound with breadcrumbs and seasoned with Tabasco. I like them given an Asian identity too, with the fresh sting of lemon grass and lime zest. Iregularly make across between the two, lightening the unctuousness of the seafood withfresh white crumbs while introducing the vibrancy of Asian seasonings. (June 2008)


crab meat 300g
lemon grass a large stick or 2 smaller ones
lime 1, the zest and juice
ginger a thumb-sized piece
spring onions 2
hot chilli 1 small
coriander leaves a small handful, chopped
soft white breadcrumbs 8 tbsp
egg 1 large
flour a little
oil for cooking

For the minted pea purée:

shelled peas 400g
mint 4 sprigs
olive oil 3 tbsp

Put the crab meat into a mixing bowl. Discard the outer leaves of the lemon grass, then chop the inner leaves very finely and add the crab with the zest and juice of the lime. Peel and finely grate the ginger, finely chop the spring onions and the chilli and gently stir into the crab meat, making sure not to crush the crab meat into a paste.

Fold in the chopped coriander and the breadcrumbs together with the egg, beaten, and a tablespoon or so of flour, just enough to bring the mixture together. Grind in a little black pepper.

Take up scoops of the mixture and pat in to small thickish cakes, then let them sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. The mixture should make about six thick patties. Warm a shallow film of oil in a frying pan. Lower in the crab cakes, leave until golden on the underside, then turn tenderly and cook the other side. (Moving the cakes too often will result in their crumbling.)

Serve with pea purée. To make the purée, boil the peas and mint sprigs in lightly salted water till tender, drain and whiz peas and the mint in a food processor with the oil till smooth.


A starter should sharpen and excite the appetite and this recipe does exactly that, though I have often served it as a light lunch. (November 2005)


red mullet 2, filleted
white wine vinegar 50ml
lime juice 120ml (3-4 limes)
lime leaves 4
carrot 1 small
onion 1 small
garlic a small clove
fresh red chilli 1 small, seeded and very finely sliced
palm sugar to taste
whole star anise 2
coriander seed 1 tsp
white peppercorns 8
black peppercorns 8
olive oil 80ml, plus a little more
fresh ginger a small knob, about 1cm long
parsley a little, quite finely chopped

To serve: triangles of rye bread

Check the red mullet fillets for bones or stray scales. Pour the wine vinegar and the lime juice into a stainless steel saucepan. Add the lime leaves, scrunching them slightly to release their fragrance as you go. Scrub the carrot and slice it as finely as paper – you should almost be able to see through it – then peel the onion and slice that similarly. Drop them into the pan together with the garlic, peeled and squashed flat (you just want the merest whiff), the chilli, a teaspoon of palm sugar (though you may need to add some more later) and the star anise, coriander seed and white peppercorns.

Bring the lot to the boil, add a good pinch of salt, 8 whole black peppercorns then pour in the olive oil and let the mixture simmer for aminute or two. You want the onion tohave softened slightly. Heat off, lid on, and leave to settle.

Warm a little olive oil in a non-stick pan. Season the red mullet fillets with salt and black pepper and lay them in the hot olive oil. Let them colour on the skin side, then carefully turn them over and allow to colour on the other side. Lift the fillets from the pan with afish slice or palette knife and place on a shallow dish.

Grate the ginger into the marinade and stir in the chopped parsley. Taste it, adding a little more palm sugar if you think it needs it. The juices should have a little kick to them. Spoon over the fish and leave to cool.

Lift the red mullet on to plates and spoon over the vegetables and liquor. Serve the fish salad with triangles ofrye bread on the side, buttered if youmust.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (7)

Despite having to bone a chicken leg, something that sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is, this is one of the simplest of all suppers. I sometimes think it's my favourite recipe of all. (August 2005)


unsalted butter 60g
basil leaves a good handful, torn
lemon ½
chicken legs, boned 2
lemon or lime to serve

Mash the butter in a small bowl, then fold in the torn basil leaves, the juice of the lemon half and a little salt and black pepper. Set aside to chill thoroughly.

If you are boning the chicken legs yourself, turn the chicken skin-side down and cut into the flesh following the line of each of the two leg bones. Tease the bone out through the slit in the flesh, cutting round it with the knife to loosen it. Peel and cut the skin away from the bone, to give a flat, squarish piece of meat. Tap the meat out lightly with a heavy object, such as a meat cleaver or rolling pin. Season with salt and pepper then oil lightly.

Cook the chicken over a hot grill, turning it once during cooking. The skin-side will smoke quite heavily, so keep the heat quite low. Once the meat is cooked right the way through, transfer to a warm plate and add aspoonful of basil butter to each one. Serve with lime or lemon.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (8)

Ask the butcher to prepare your shoulder of lamb for stuffing. Where the bone is removed, it provides a neat pocket which will hold just the right amount of stuffing. (April 2009)


a shoulder of lamb about 1.3kg
red onion 1 large
olive oil
fine couscous 90g
boiling water 200ml
golden sultanas a handful
ground cumin ½ tsp
cinnamon 2 large pinches

Peel and thinly slice the onion, then let it soften in a little olive oil over amoderate heat, stirring from time to time. It is ready when soft and golden. Put the couscous in a bowl and pour over the water. Leave for 10 minutes. Set the oven at 220C/gas mark 8.

Fluff the couscous with a fork to separate the grains. Stir in the softened onion, the sultanas and the spices. Season generously then stuff the mixture into the pocket inside thelamb.

Pull the meat over the stuffing and seal with a skewer or tiewith string.

Place the stuffed lamb in a roasting tin, scattering any spare stuffing around the outside and rub a little olive oil over the fat. Pour a glass of water into the roasting tin and place in the oven.

Roast the lamb for 20 minutes then lower the heat to 200C/gas mark 6, and continue roasting for 40 minutes until the fat is crisp and golden and the meat juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.


Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (9)

Although I feature a lot of baking in my weekly column, I have featured very few cakes in OFM. This chocolate-flecked cake was originally made as an alternative Christmas cake, but Inow find I make it for any occasion. This is my first choice for a birthday cake too, a nutty sponge cake rich with chocolate nibs and a dark chocolate frosting. I serve it in appropriately thin slices. (December 2008)

SERVES 10-12

butter 250g
golden caster sugar 250g
shelled hazelnuts 75g
dark chocolate 120g
large eggs 4
self-raising flour 125g
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
strong espresso 4 tsp

For the spiced chocolate cream:

dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) 250g
butter 125g
cinnamon a knife point

You will also need:

a 20-21cm cake tin with a loose bottom

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Line the base of the cake tin with greaseproof paper. Cut the butter into small chunks and put it with the sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer, then beat till white and fluffy. Toast the hazelnuts in adry pan over amoderate heat, then rub them in atea towel until most of the skins have flaked off. There is really no need to be too pernickety about this, you just want most of the skins removed. Grind the nuts to acoarse powder, less finely than ground almonds, but finer than they would be if you chopped them by hand. Chop the chocolate into what looks like coarse gravel.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them gently. Slowly add them to the butter and sugar mixture, beating all the time – it may curdle slightly but it doesn't matter. Stop the electric mixer. Tip in half the ground nuts and half the flour, beat briefly and at a slow speed, stop the machine again, then add the rest of the nuts and flour together with the chopped chocolate and cinnamon and mix briefly.

Fold in the espresso, gently, taking care not to knock the air from the mixture, then scoop into the lined cake tin. Smooth the top and bake for 35-45 minutes, covering the cake with tin foil for the last 10 minutes if the top of the cake is colouring too quickly. Remove the cake from the oven and test with askewer – you want it to come out moist but clean, without any uncooked cake mixture clinging to it.

Leave the cake to cool a little in its tin before turning out and peeling off the greaseproof paper from its bottom.

To make the chocolate butter cream, snap the chocolate into small pieces and let it melt in a small pot balanced over a small pan of simmering water. (The water should not touch the bottom of the pot.) Leave to melt, with little or no stirring, then add the butter, cut into small pieces, and spice. Stir till the butter has melted.

Leave the butter cream to cool until the mixture is thick enough to spread. (I sometimes impatiently put mine in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.) Spread the chocolate cream over the top of the cake, decorate as the whim takes you and leave for an hour or so before cutting.

Nigel Slater's 10 most popular recipes (2024)
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