Question – What’s the best thing about cooking for friends?
Catching up on all their news, hearing about their work and their kids? Being gently tickled by their dazzling repartee? Sharing memories and nostalgia of years gone by? Perhaps just enjoying the presence of people who you care about? Or (more likely) getting a little kick out of the fact that you cook better than they do?
No, no, no, no and no.
The fact of the matter is that the best thing about cooking for friends, by far, is the chance to cook too much food and eat it all over again the next night (or the next two nights if you’re really lucky. or single).
And here I am with what are, without a shadow of a doubt, the best leftovers you could ever, ever eat:
Dauphinoise potatoes – infinitely better the day after you cooked them
Red cabbage – barely getting going until day two, let’s be honest
Confit of duck leg – not even worth eating until at least a month after it was so lovingly poached in its own fat
That’s it – put the three together and you have heaven on a plate. Stick a glass of bordeaux next to it and you may as well just kill yourself there and then, because it’s never going to get any better. Try it. And then try telling me I’m wrong (if you’re still alive that is…)
Confit of duck, red cabbage and dauphinoise potatoes
The confit is easy – have a look here to see how it’s done.
For the red cabbage, take a whole small red cabbage, cut it finely and put it in a large pan with a small jar of redcurrant jelly (or something similar), and couple of peeled and chopped apples, a finely sliced onion, a large knob of butter and plenty of seasoning. Add 100ml of water, put the lid on and cook it on a low low heat for an hour or two, stirring every 10 mins or so.
For the spuds, get out the mandoline and finely slice a couple of handfuls of waxy potatoes and put them into a shallow over proof dish (preferably standing on edge – you’ll get more in and they will cook so much better) with half a pint of cream mixed with a quarter of a pint of milk (enough to ensure the spuds are almost completely submerged, and few cloves of finely chopped garlic, plenty of little knobs of butter and season it well. Cook it in a low oven (150-160c) for about an hour.
Now, get your friends over for dinner (preferably ones who don’t like eating too much), serve them a tiny portion of your feast, have a quick chat, get rid of them as quickly as you can and then wait…with all the patience you can muster…