Recently, I have been cooking from Marcus Wareing’s cookbook, Marcus at Home, which was released in the fall of 2016.
Wareing is Marcus‘ 2 Michelin Star chef as well as chef/patron of Tredwell’s and The Gilbert Scott, all located in London. Excelling in classic French haute cuisine, his earlier cookbooks never really appealed to me as a home cook due to the technicality of his dishes. However, I became very intrigued by Marcus at Home when I read interviews coinciding with its release suggesting that a lot had changed over recent years.
Wareing has been focussing more on family life compared to the full career dedication in his 20s and 30s. After having trained under among others Albert Roux and Gordon Ramsay at Aubergine, L’Oranger, and Pétrus, Wareing became head-chef at Pétrus in 1999 and earned two Michelin stars during his 9-year tenure. He took over the lease of Pétrus in 2008 – fuel for a long drawn feud with Ramsay and not being able to carry the Pétrus name – culminating in Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. Nevertheless, he chose to fully refurbish and rebrand this restaurant to Marcus in 2014, aiming to create a more flexible and less stiff restaurant experience that would still serve up top-notch food. It definitely worked as the two Michelin stars have been retained. In the meantime, he had also opened his other restaurants, The Gilbert Scott, a brasserie-like restaurant and bar combining classic British flavors with international influences, and Tredwell’s, a casual dining room. To top it all, Wareing also “moved to the other side” of the pass, leaving the kitchen side of Marcus as well as his other 2 restaurants to be run by long-serving protégés. Thus stepping aside and allowing the talents to grow underneath him. This must have been a massive step for him; apparently, he was cooking at every dinner service if possible, and on any occasions that he could not make it, he insisted that the guests were made aware that their food was not being prepared by him personally.
This more relaxed approach is reflected in Marcus at Home. It is very laid back, no fancy haute cuisine (hotdog and bacon pasta, anyone?!), just dedicated to cooking and dining with family and friends. The book itself is beautiful, and the recipes are amazing: quick and mostly healthy recipes for weekdays, some more elaborate and indulgent ones for the weekend as well as baking and more challenging “entertaining” sections. I have already cooked quite a few very appealing recipes, and they were great, easy to follow, and, most importantly: delicious.
One of the first recipes I tried was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Usually, it is not a very healthy dish, but this thin and crispy coating of spiced flour and porridge oats is excellent and far from greasy. However, I should warn you that in the absence of a thick batter, you cannot compare it to regular southern American buttermilk fried chicken.
The main changes of my version of the recipe below are the use of chicken fillets instead of chicken thighs and upping the lime zest in the marinade and thyme in the crumb mixture. Furthermore, I did forego the last step of crisping them up in the oven for up to 15 minutes at 180℃/355℉. We did follow it the first time, but this step unfortunately dried out our chicken bits a bit too much to our liking and did not have a dramatic effect on the crispiness.
- 4 chicken breasts, boneless
- 1 shallot, sliced
- ½ red chili pepper, sliced
- 400ml / 1½ cup buttermilk
- 400ml / 1½ cup whole milk
- lime zest from 1 lime
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 150g / 1 cup of plain flour
- 75g / ½ cup of porridge oats
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika powder
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp sea salt
- groundnut or sunflower oil, for frying
- spring onions, sliced on the diagonal, to serve
- limes, quartered, to serve
- Cut each of the chicken breasts into four or five evenly sized pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix together the shallots, red chili pepper, milk, buttermilk, lime zest and the chicken pieces (which should be fully covered).
- Cover the bowl with cling film and let marinate anywhere between 8 hours and 2 days in the fridge.
- When starting to prepare the dish, heat about 1½” / 3½ cm of oil in a deep walled pan to approx. 180℃/355℉.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and oats, garlic, onion, and smoked paprika powders, thyme, and salt for the crumb mixture.
- Using tongs, take out the chicken pieces – shaking off any excess marinade – and drag through the crumb mixture until coated evenly.
- Deep fry the chicken pieces in batches until it cooked through, crispy and golden. It took me about 5-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken bits.
- Serve with sliced spring onions and quartered limes