What’s the most underrated ingredient in the kitchen?

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7 November
15:54
November
2016

There are a few! Firstly, I love celeriac – even though a lot of people think “Oooh I can do without celeriac!” For me, it’s so delicious and it’s got five times as much fibre as potato, so it’s really good for you. It’s got such a lovely, subtle flavour and there are so many different ways of cooking it too. 

If you just cut it up and braise it with a bit of garlic, thyme and some olive oil, it becomes almost a completely different ingredient. It caramelises and you get this really sweet flavour which is far nicer than potato. Or you can just shred it and steam it with some water and a bit of lemon and salt, and it’s delicious mixed up with some mayonnaise, or with oil and lemon, or in a classic remoulade.

My tip is to always buy it when it’s still got the leaves on. That’s how you can tell how fresh it is. When they’ve been trimmed up, they can be a little bit old. Celeriac loses its sweetness as it gets old and they become a bit too celery-like, so you want to buy it as fresh as possible. It’s one of my favourite ingredients and definitely underrated.

"One of my favourite things is to get a cucumber, get a potato peeler and just peel the cucumber all the way down, so you’ve got these long thin shreds." 

Another underrated ingredient I love is cucumber - and I love cucumber with mint. One of my favourite things is to get a cucumber, get a potato peeler and just peel the cucumber all the way down, so you’ve got these long thin shreds. Put some sugar, salt and vinegar into a bowl with the cucumber and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then drain it and just tap it with a towel and dress that with some oil, chopped mint, a bit of chilli and a squeeze of lime. It’s absolutely delicious and it goes with anything.

Or get some really nice white bread, some good quality butter and put some sliced cucumber onto that, and you’ve got one of the most delicious sandwiches. Even though cucumber is basically 99% water. It’s extraordinary how much flavour it has and the smell of fresh cucumber being chopped is magic.

Any cucumber grown in a natural environment is going to have lots of flavour, it’s the same with tomatoes. If you grow it hydroponically or in a forced way, it’s not going to have any flavour whatsoever, it’s just going to taste of water. My grandfather grew amazing cucumbers. He had these panels of glass in the garden to grow them behind and these little pots of beer to stop the slugs from eating them. If you taste a cucumber that has been grown outdoors, it’s just a completely different flavour. It’s like the difference between homegrown tomatoes and plastic ones.

"Chicken livers just have so much flavour and they’re so cheap! I just love them." (Photo: Marie)

Lastly, chicken livers are totally underrated. I go to the butchers and get a tub of chicken livers on a regular basis. One of my favourite things is to have a dandelion salad and some cooked lentils. Pan fry the chicken livers with some pancetta or smoked bacon and some sage. Put the salad and the lentils on a plate and just put the hot chicken livers with the pancetta or bacon on top. Add a little bit of balsamic vinegar – and it’s a delicious lunch. Or just put chicken livers onto a piece of toast like a little crostini. You can buy 250 grams of chicken livers for about a quid. Chicken livers just have so much flavour and they’re so cheap! I just love them.

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