Need some fresh catering ideas to match the sharp change of season? The chef behind Temper Soho and Temper City is going all in on flavour for the long, dark nights ahead
When we brainstormed which chef we wanted to cook us up a banquet-worthy winter spread, low-and-slow meat maestro Neil Rankin was the first name shouted out, and no one could beat him. So, on a suitably drizzly morning, I headed to his newest restaurant to see him prep his chosen dishes, from canapé through to feasting platter. Over a couple of cans of Irn-Bru (we’re both Scottish), I settled at the kitchen counter and watched the team work over smoky fire pits before digging into Neil’s warming, spice-laden offerings. It doesn’t get much cosier than that. Here, he talks us through his winter dishes.
Crab + tomato curry, fresh crab meat, puff pastry, yoghurt + tamarind chutney
‘This crab dish is a big flavour bomb that will kick-start your guests’ palates. For me, winter cooking means that you turn the comfort volume up a little. Everyone’s wearing more layers, so you can get away with a little bit more cream and butter in everything, plus a kiss of strong liquor to warm everyone up. Give me a really good bourbon or mescal and I’m happy.’
Squid + samphire pakora
Squid, samphire, garam masala, tamarind sauce + prawn mayo
‘This one’s a crowd-pleaser. At first, I stuck to the usual suspects like potato, chilli, onion and cauliflower, but that’s not really me. I wanted to do something a bit more exciting. My presentation is very much “serve it as it is” – allow the dish to speak for itself. Though I do like to add garnishes that bring texture and flavour to the plate.’
Cod, fish-head stock, ginger, garlic, chilli + lemongrass
‘Curries work pretty much all year round, but they really come into their own in the winter. This fish curry is the ultimate in warm spicing, with a bold stock made from cooking whole cods’ heads. It’s sharp and sweet, with a subtle chilli kick. Personally, I believe that everything goes well with a gin and tonic. Everything! Curry and gin is a less well-known but perfect pairing.’
Whole smoked goat’s leg
Smoked kid goat’s leg, coconut, almond, chilli + cucumber pickles
‘Sharing dishes are the heart of winter cooking. Every day should be like Christmas Day, which is all about the family meal and strengthening your social bonds through food. This goat’s leg is the ultimate roast for me: smoked lightly for three hours, then carved at the table. The flavour of goat is unbeatable, and it’s perhaps the only meat that can take lots of spicing and still come through tasting strong.’
Neil Rankin is chef and co-owner of Temper Soho (020 3879 3834) and Temper City (020 3004 6984).
Photos Max Miechowski
Looking ahead to the spring season? See what Duck & Waffle chef director Dan Doherty thinks you should serve