Jamie Oliver believes getting together and sharing a meal with loved ones has never felt so important. Each chapter of his latest cookbook, Together, features a meal – from seasonal feasts to curry nights – with a simple, achievable menu that can be mostly prepped ahead. Jamie's aim – whether you’re following the full meal or picking individual recipes – is to keep you out of the kitchen so you can enjoy eating with your guests. He also hopes to take the stress out of cooking by teaching you hacks to get organised and get ahead. Inspirational but practical, Jamie’s mission is about getting groups together to celebrate, create memories and, above all, share food.
Inspired? Here are three of Jamie’s new recipes to try…
Step 1Peel the garlic and ginger. Put 1 clove into a pestle and mortar, then slice and add half the ginger, the turmeric and a small pinch of sea salt. Pound into a paste, brush all over the fish fillets, cover and refrigerate overnight. Crush the lemongrass, remove the outer layer and trim with the spring onions. Deseed the chilli. Roughly chop it all with the remaining garlic and ginger and place in a blender with the sesame oil, soy sauce, and the lime zest. Tear in 2 lime leaves, discarding the stalks, add the coriander, stalks and all, then tip in the coconut milk. Blitz until super-smooth, and refrigerate overnight.
Step 2On the day, use a small knife to gently score a criss-cross pattern into each scallop. Leaving the heads and tails attached, remove the prawn shells, then run a knife down their backs to butterfly them, removing the vein. Quarter the pak choi lengthways. Get yourself four 50cm square sheets of greaseproof paper or tin foil, fold each in half and place a plate under half of one sheet to act as a base. Pour a quarter of the sauce into the centre – the plate will stop it running away. Sit two quarters of pak choi, one piece of fish, one prawn, one scallop and one lime leaf on top, drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil, then eggwash the exposed paper. Fold it over, then work your way around from one side to the other, folding in as you go to seal the parcel. Carefully transfer to your largest baking tray, and repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Step 3To serve, preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the tray of parcels over a high heat on the hob for 3 minutes, or until you can hear them start to sizzle, then carefully transfer to the oven for 15 minutes. Slide a parcel on to each of four plates, and let your guests tear them open at the table. Serve with lime wedges, ready to tweak the sauce to perfection.
VEGAN LOVE: Swap out the seafood in each parcel for 2 rounded scoops of silken tofu (125g) and 60g of shiitake or oyster mushrooms. Tinned water chestnuts would also be a joy, and use a little oil instead of the eggwash.
Step 1I like to time this so the chicken is coming out of the oven to rest just as my guests arrive. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Get a roasting tray that will fit the chicken fairly snugly. Halve, deseed and finely chop 4 preserved lemons and place in the tray. Roughly chop and add the chilli, strip in the rosemary, then halve the pomegranate and squeeze all the juice through your fingers into the tray.
Step 2Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then the chicken, season lightly and rub all that flavour over the bird, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Pour 150ml of water into the tray around the chicken and roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through, basting halfway with the tray juices. Remove, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes in the tray.
Step 3To serve, move the chicken to a serving platter, drizzle and brush with the honey, then scatter over the dukkah.
Step 4For the dressing, skim off and discard a spoonful of fat from the tray, then place the tray over a medium heat on the hob, add 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and simmer until thickened, scraping up all the sticky bits and loosening with splashes of water, if needed. Pour through a sieve into a little jug. Serve with the chicken and a bowl of rocket. Great with my smashed aubergine and roasted squash recipes, which you'll find in the book.
VEGGIE LOVE: Use 1 cauliflower (800g) instead of chicken for veggie guests – use just 2 preserved lemons in the marinade, then roast and finish it in exactly the same way as the chicken.
PRESERVE THOSE LEMONS: Preserved lemons don’t last that long once the jar’s open, so what I do is pour all their liquor into a blender, deseed and add the lemons, then blitz until smooth. Freeze in ice cube trays ready to jazz up stews, salads, couscous, rice, roasts and dressings.
Step 1Pour the cream and milk into a non-stick pan, snap in the chocolate, and place on a medium-low heat until the chocolate has melted, whisking regularly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly while you separate the eggs.
Step 2In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yolks (freeze the whites to make meringues another day) with the sugar and the finely grated orange zest until pale and fluffy. Now, whisking constantly, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture until combined. Return to the pan and place over a low heat, then very gently bring to a simmer, whisking constantly for about 10 minutes, or until you have a custard-like consistency. Divide between four small heatproof cups or two sharing bowls, then cool, cover and leave to set in the fridge overnight.
Step 3To serve, sprinkle a little sugar over two of the puds, then melt it under a hot grill or using a blowtorch. Serve with orange segments, berries or cherries. The two extra puds will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, if you can wait that long!
Together by Jamie Oliver is published by Michael Joseph © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2021 Together). Photography: Levon Biss (Extraordinary seafood parcels); Paul Stuart (Dukkah roast chicken); Chocolate Orange Crème Brûlée (David Loftus). Available at Waterstones.com