Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for comfort eating over Christmas (2024)

I usually do three recipes for this column, but I got a bit overexcited in the run-up to Christmas, so this week I’ve squeezed in four, all of them baked, charred or roasted for extra comfort. (And anyway, what kind of food writer would I be if I didn’t provide a recipe for sprouts at this time of year?) So, happy planning, cooking and feasting.

Chorizo-and-almond-stuffed romano peppers

Serve as a standalone meal, perhaps with a crisp green salad, or as an side for roast chicken. The stuffing mix also works in a chicken and even baked on its own. Serves six.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
250g cooking chorizo, cut into 1cm dice
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm pieces
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper
100g slice sourdough (crust left on)
50g lightly toasted flaked almonds
20g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
20g basil leaves, roughly chopped
100g manchego, cut into 1cm pieces
1 egg, lightly whisked
6 romano peppers
150ml chicken stock

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high flame, then fry the onion for seven to eight minutes, stirring often, until soft and caramelised. Add the chorizo, green pepper, garlic, paprika, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, and fry for seven minutes, stirring every once in a while, until the chorizo is cooked, then leave to cool a little.

Put the sourdough in a food processor and blitz for a minute, to turn it into rough crumbs (the largest pieces should be about 1cm). Tip into a large bowl with the chorizo mixture, almonds, herbs, manchego and egg, and mix well.

Use a small knife to cut a long, narrow V down the centre of each pepper, 2cm wide at the stalk and narrowing down towards the tip. Remove the seeds, then push the stuffing into the peppers, forcing it deep inside. Arrange the peppers on a 20cm x 30cm high-sided baking tray, drizzle with the remaining oil, and season with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Pour the stock over and around the peppers, then roast for 20 minutes, until the filling has browned. Baste the peppers, cover with foil and cook for a final 15 minutes, until the peppers are soft. Serve hot.

Potato and mushroom pots

This is so rich and comforting that it can act as a meal in itself, maybe with some wilted spinach; thanks to the egg whites, though, the mash is also light and fluffy enough to serve alongside a steak, say. If you don’t have ramekins, cook it in one 20cm x 25cm baking dish. Serves eight as a side dish, or four as a main course.

1.2 kg desiree potatoes
130ml double cream
100g unsalted butter, 30g melted, for brushing
2 tbsp olive oil
300g button mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves, crushed
10g dried porcini, soaked in 300ml boiling water for 30 minutes
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
120g mature cheddar, coarsely grated

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the potatoes on a baking tray and roast for an hour or so, until cooked through. Leave to cool a little, then cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon (you’ll get about 650g). Put the flesh in a bowl with the cream, 70g butter and a teaspoon of salt, mash and set aside.

Turn down the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Heat the oil in a large saute pan on a high flame, then fry the mushrooms, thyme and garlic for 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until browned. Strain the porcini through a J-cloth directly into the pan, to remove any grit, then stir in rehydrated mushrooms and a third of a teaspoon of salt, and cook for three to four minutes more, until only about 60ml of liquid is left in the pan. Spoon the mix into a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste.

Stir the egg yolks into the potato mix until combined. In a separate large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then gently fold into the potato.

Brush the insides of eight ramekins (9-10cm wide x 5cm deep) with half the melted butter. Divide half the mashed potato between the ramekins, pressing it down slightly, then top with all the mushroom paste. Spoon the remaining mash on top, so it covers the mushrooms, and flatten a little. Brush with the remaining melted butter, sprinkle with the cheddar and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the potato has risen slightly and is golden brown on top. Rest for a minute or two, then serve.

Burnt brussels sprouts with cream cheese and ginger dressing

Sprouts, like all cabbages, take very well to a little charring. Serves four to six.

50g fresh ginger
280g cream cheese
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Finely grated zest of 1 lime, plus 2 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
2½ tbsp groundnut oil
Salt and black pepper
750g brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthways
½ tsp pink peppercorns, crushed with your fingers
½ tsp toasted sesame seeds

Start with the dressing. Peel and grate the ginger on a coarse grater, then push it through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl – you should end up with tablespoon and a half of ginger juice. Add the cream cheese, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, two tablespoons of groundnut oil, three tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt, then whisk until thick.

Put a large nonstick frying pan for which you have a lid on a high heat. Once it’s very hot, add the sprouts cut side down: you don’t want them to overlap, so you may need to cook them in batches. Cover and cook for four minutes, until blackened, then tip into a bowl.

Once all the sprouts are charred, mix them with the remaining half-tablespoon of oil, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Spread some of the dressing on a platter and arrange the sprouts burnt side up on top. Dot the rest of the dressing over the sprouts, sprinkle with lime zest, pink peppercorns and sesame seeds, and serve.

Sticky roast guinea fowl with kabocha squash

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for comfort eating over Christmas (1)

Kabocha squash has a creamy, nutty texture that pairs perfectly with the sweet, sticky roasting juices here, but butternut will also work well. And you could use a chicken instead of guinea fowl, if need be: just adjust the cooking times to reflect the larger bird. Check if it’s cooked by piercing the thickest part of the leg with a skewer: if the juices run clear, you’re good to go. The longer you marinate the guinea fowl, the better: 24 hours, if you can, though overnight will do. Serves four.

5 sprigs fresh thyme
10 sage leaves, roughly shredded
Finely shaved skin of 1 orange
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the flat of a knife
2 tsp chilli flakes
12 soft ready-to-eat prunes
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
90ml pomegranate molasses
50ml dark soy sauce
150ml olive oil
1 guinea fowl (about 950g), quartered
½ kabocha squash (about 700g), unpeeled and cut into 2cm-thick wedges

Put the first 10 ingredients in a large bowl with six tablespoons of olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt. Add the guinea fowl, toss to coat (as ever, your hands are the best tool for this), then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweet treats for the Christmas table – recipesRead more

To cook, heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Add the squash to the guinea fowl bowl with the rest of the oil and half a teaspoon of salt. Toss to combine, then tip into a large (roughly 28cm x 34cm) high-sided roasting tray, making sure the bird is skin side up. Cover tightly with foil, roast for 10 minutes, then remove the foil, increase the temperature to 220C/425F/gas mark 7 and cook for 25-30 minutes more, basting a couple of times: you want everything covered in the sticky glaze. If the fowl is done before the squash is ready, lift it out and keep it warm while you give the squash a few minutes more. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for comfort eating over Christmas (2024)


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