Forget microwave meals and takeaways. In his new book, "Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals" celebrity chef Jamie Oliver tells us how to cook a proper meal from scratch in record time.
Metro: You keep reducing the time of your recipe books. Why?
JO: "People are so time poor. But I promise I won’t be doing time again."
But why 15 minutes? Why not 10?
JO: "If you want a proper meal- fast– 15 minutes is the minimum you can do. It’s the hardest book I’ve ever written because I wanted it to be an everyday cookbook that was healthy, nutritious and fast."
Some of the recipes are a bit fancy. I can’t picture students cooking griddled tuna. Who’s the book aimed at?
JO: "Everyone. From a culinary point of view, the world is a much smaller place. People are much more traveled and more read than they were 15 years ago and the stuff available in supermarkets is more robust. And they still want it fast."
Microwave meals are a pretty quick solution too…
JO: "Microwave food has became synonymous with shit food. But there’s also a lot of high quality stuff. It’s just never going to be amazing."
You’re really adamant about not doing time again. Why is that?
JO: "Time is a small element of many different emotions to cooking. You can do five minutes work and something can cook for four hours. You haven’t done four hours and five minutes work- you’ve done five minutes work then disappeared and gotten on with other things."
Q: So what now?
JO: "100 percent vegetarian- making massive heroes out of the things that we don’t eat enough of. The craft of making vegetables utterly delicious is one that’s just not known about enough. At least 65% of my recipes are meat-free, the index is covered in V’s, but the feedback I get from vegetarians is, "yeah, cool- but we’d like our own book please." I’ve ignored it for years but the amount of meat we consume in a week is just too much."
I tried one of your recipes the other night. The ricotta fritters. I’m a disaster in the kitchen. It ended up looking like a cheese omelet. But it tasted good.
JO: "You ended up with an omelet when you were supposed to do fritters. What the hell did you do?"
I tried to flip them over…and made a mess.
JO: "The fritters take about one minute to make and six minutes to cook. I don’t know what went wrong…do what the recipes says and it will work. 15 MM is so highly strung. If it says put the kettle on- put it on. I wish I could have seen it.I put money on the fact you used the wrong sized pan and put them too close together."
What are the biggest mistakes people make in the kitchen?
JO: "You don’t need 100 knives, just three of the right ones- a chopper, paring and a bread knife. The book isn’t trying to be your best friend. It’s like- ‘You want tasty fast food? Here’s the fucking rules. Do what you’re told."
After a long and exhausting day at work- do you sometimes think, ‘f**k this- I’m going to McDonalds?'
JO: "I don’t normally get caught out. Although I’m famous for hating junk food, I’m not anti any kind of food. I’ve got nothing against a hot dog, a burger or a pizza. It’s more about real food. I do the most amazing free-range pig hot dogs with kick-ass slaw, home made ketchup and buns that’s bloody delicious. But if ever you’re in London and want a kebab, there’s a place called "Kebab Kid" on New Kings Road that’s delicious."
Would you ever eat at McDonalds?
JO: "I haven’t eaten a McDonalds in 10 years."
What did you eat?
JO: "A Big Mac."
If I offered you a Big Mac right now- would you eat it?
JO: "I would. McDonald's are probably the best big fast food operator in Britain. They’ve done a lot of good work on their beef, their 100% organic milk and free-range eggs. You can’t just beat people up all the time and not pat them on the back for the good stuff they’ve done."
You have one minute to make a meal- what do you do?
JO: "Grab a bit of bread and some lovely ham or cheese."
JO: "Some fettuccine. Use boiling water and it cooks in three minutes. Then add a few simple ingredients to that."
HEY JAMIE- WHAT’S COOKING?
We ask the chef about his favorite meals:
Jamie’s food heaven vs. food hell
Heaven: "A lovely home cooked family roast dinner with all the trimmings made by my mum."
Hell: "A precocious, pretentious Michelin star meal with stuff balanced everywhere, hanging everywhere, drizzled everywhere and that doesn’t taste very good. Just the fact that someone has had to touch your food to get it in that position is just… I’m much more about lovely rustic food that looks like its fallen into place by luck."
A typical day on Jamie’s plate:
Breakfast: "Fruit, muesli type things, porridge. On the weekends- a bacon sandwich."
Lunch: "Salad and a pasta. Maybe some grilled fish."
Dinner: "Anything. Literally."
Jamie’s top 6 ingredients to have in your kitchen:
Old classics: Olive oil, Lemon, Chili
New ingredients: Rose petal harissa (delicious in dressings, marinades and rubs), Za’atar (a mixture of incredible Persian spices), Preserved lemons (they completely transform stews, couscous and rice dishes)