Ever wondered what chefs eat on their night off? | Chefs

I’ve often wondered what chefs eat for dinner on their night off – I’m in need of easy, delicious meal ideas!
Sarah, Leeds

For Phil Wood, head chef at Saltine in north London, cooking at home is “a bit of a busman’s holiday”. That said, good things can be found in an “easy chicken thigh situation”, which you can bung in the oven while you gravitate towards a tracksuit. “Start with a base of celery, onions and carrots, then make a roux and thicken it with tomato paste and stock,” Wood says, plus a splash of Worcestershire sauce for good measure. “Add chicken thighs, brown them, then cover and stick in the oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and cook for another half-hour,” then crack open some wine and eat with hunks of bread.

The appeal of cooking from a single vessel grows immensely during the week, with pasta being a shining light. “One of my go-tos is pasta with lentils,” Mitchell Damota of east London’s Dalla says. The method couldn’t be simpler, either: saute whatever veg you fancy – “usually onion, carrot, celery, a bit of garlic” – and add tomato, brown lentils and water or stock. “If you have rosemary or parsley, add that, too – and, if you’ve got one, a chunk of parmesan rind is an absolute must.” Once the lentils are nice and soft, in goes the pasta – “soup-friendly shapes or simply broken-up spaghetti” – and, “from start to finish, that’s ready in 25 minutes”. Carb comfort can also be found in broccoli pasta: “I chop the broccoli small, so you can then mash it up and it goes creamy, but my partner prefers to keep it in chunks for texture.” Either way, get the broccoli on to boil. Meanwhile, saute garlic in olive oil “until it’s just starting to brown around the edges, then add chilli flakes and a splash of cooking water”. Scoop the boiled broccoli into the garlic pan and leave it cook down while you cook the pasta. Then, just toss the two together.

Shuko Oda, head chef at Koya in London, eats “a lot of noodles at home as well as at work”. While the type may change – udon, soba, ramen, rice – her strategy remains much the same: make a simple sauce that doesn’t require heat, and pour over the top. “Chop chives, ginger and spring onions, then add soy sauce, sugar, a splash of rice vinegar and a bit of honey; my favourite is chilli oil with a drizzle of soy and some spring onions.”

The omelette, meanwhile, is a real crowdpleaser round chef and restaurateur Tom Kerridge’s. They’re quick, sure, but they’re also highly customisable: “Omelettes are a great way to combine all those bits and bobs in the fridge – leftover ham, a bit of grated cheese, some pepper and tomato, or quite simply heavily seasoned eggs cooked just right and finished with hot spicy sauce.” Alternatively, put an egg on nasi lemak (coconut rice), which Abby Lee (chef and founder of Mambow, in Clapton, London) makes by putting Thai long-grain jasmine rice in a rice cooker with “50:50 coconut milk to water, pandan leaves and salt”. She leaves that to cook for 25 minutes while she considers the toppings: fried garlic and/or anchovies, a good sambal, or “peanuts fried with makrut lime leaves and lemongrass”. Crown with a fried egg, because, well, everything’s better with an egg.

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