Fergus Henderson’s ‘whole animal’ recipes inspired chefs on both sides of the Atlantic | Food

It is November 2009 and I’m in a brand new restaurant on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles known as Animal. I’ve been in the metropolis for 3 weeks, serving as a choose on a TV meals contest, all British piss and vinegar to the acquainted American gush, and I’m lacking my household terribly. Irrespective of, for right here on the menu is roast bone marrow with parsley salad, the dish made well-known by the chef Fergus Henderson at his Clerkenwell restaurant St John. His guideline: “Should you’re going to bang an animal on the head it’s solely well mannered to eat all of it.”

I scoop the scorching, wobbly jewels of marrow from the bones, pile them on to the toast and add a bit of salt. All of a sudden, I’m not homesick. A couple of days later I fly to Chicago and go to one other new restaurant. It’s known as Publican. There it’s once more: roast bone marrow with parsley salad. “We fully acknowledge that we stole it from Fergus,” a chef says to me. “We’ve, like, three copies of Nostril to Tail Consuming in the kitchen.”


The books featured on this sequence to this point have had a critical impression on legions of house cooks. Nostril to Tail Consuming: A Variety of British Cooking by Fergus Henderson is totally different. “It was largely purchased by individuals working in restaurant kitchens,” says Georgina Morley, the editor who acquired it for Macmillan, publishers of the authentic 1999 version. “The final punter simply wasn’t notably .” It gained a prestigious André Simon award, and obtained nice evaluations, nevertheless it didn’t actually promote.

Macmillan ultimately handed again the rights and in 2004 Bloomsbury revealed a brand new version, with an adoring introduction by the late Anthony Bourdain, who had change into an enormous fan of St John and tight pals with Henderson. In 2007 there was a second quantity, Past Nostril to Tail, adopted in 2012 by The Full Nostril to Tail, which introduced the two books collectively (the version I’ve).

‘Rugged’: roasted red onion, Jerusalem artichoke and olive salad.
‘Rugged’: roasted purple onion, Jerusalem artichoke and olive salad. {Photograph}: Jay Rayner

Henderson educated as an architect and there has at all times been one thing of the artwork college pupil about his strategy. St John, housed in a former smokehouse, is a sharp-edged white house. To these used to the velvet plush of bold eating places, its canteen vibe can appear austere. Then there are specific dishes: not simply the caveman heft of the bone marrow (which Henderson freely says he picked up from the movie La Grande Bouffe), however the supply of crispy pig tails to be gnawed upon, or a plate of eggs and carrots.

Likewise, the ebook does have encouraging meals photographs: a glistening boiled ham, a bread pudding swamped in butterscotch sauce. However elsewhere there’s a shot of a uncooked pig’s head being shaved with a Bic razor, or one other of a cook dinner cradling a lamb carcass as if it had been a child. The prose can even learn as a provocation. The deep-fried rabbit recipe insists that youthful animals are finest. “So if in case you have a pal with a gun, ask them to purpose for the smaller bunnies.”

The directions for the pot roast pig’s head recommend utilizing solely half, “as it’s a excellent romantic supper for 2. Think about gazing into the eyes of the one you love over a golden pig’s cheek, ear and snout.” Sure. Simply think about. What actually issues, nevertheless, are the recipes for dishes anybody with an urge for food will need to eat: for a soupy stew of white beans and smoked bacon or a pig’s head and potato pie, for a salad of shredded white cabbage and brown shrimps or a steamed lemon and vanilla syrup sponge.

‘Like alligators in a swamp’: duck legs.
‘Like alligators in a swamp’: duck legs. {Photograph}: Jay Rayner

Henderson denies trying to impress. “It’s simply me being me,” he tells me, by way of electronic mail. The ebook, he says, is “a pleasant guide to make use of at house, to cook dinner for family and friends. It displays how I’ve at all times cooked and thought of meals.” He advises us to not be afraid of components “in any other case they may misbehave”. That wilful anthropomorphising is a component of the pleasure. The celery salt recipe insists the components sit in the fridge for 2 days “permitting time for the celeriac and salt to get to know one another”. Parsley have to be flippantly chopped “simply sufficient to self-discipline it”. At the similar time, it’s mild on element. Duck fats have to be administered in “dollops”. Herbs are available in handfuls. Exterior of the baking part, there are not any temperatures. Ovens are merely scorching or medium. Was Henderson presuming a sure confidence in his readers? “Sure and no,” he says. “It’s there to assist and information and never be a hindrance.”

Paul Kahan, now government chef of The Publican in Chicago, has acquired to know and cook dinner with Henderson over the years. He readily admits he opened that restaurant as a result of of the ebook. “It’s vastly influential on me,” he says. “It was an eye-opener for a younger American cook dinner.” Rory Welch, head chef of Träkol in Gateshead, which serves its personal take on the St John pig’s head, agrees. “It was one of the first cookbooks I purchased. I attempt to maintain it pristine. There’s no fuss. It’s simply sturdy components correctly cooked.” Lee Tiernan of Black Axe Mangal, who was as soon as head chef of St John Bread and Wine, acquired his copy proper at the begin of his profession. “It’s full of pleasure and chance and surprise,” he says, merely. Henderson acknowledges the affect on restaurant cooks. “I bear in mind travelling to Australia and chefs saying they had been about to surrender cooking, however then they learn Nostril to Tail and so they had been fortunately again in the kitchen.”

‘Golden, still warm’: madeleines.
‘Golden, nonetheless heat’: madeleines. {Photograph}: Jay Rayner

It’s time for me to cook dinner. From the entrance part I make a rugged salad of roasted purple onions, chargrilled Jerusalem artichokes, olives and peppery leaves dressed with a pokey French dressing (proof, I believe, that this “form of” British cooking, requires a data of French fundamentals). I fry fat-clad duck legs till browned, nestle them in a mattress of carrots, onions and garlic and pour over the finest rooster inventory till the legs appear like “alligators in a swamp”. Two hours in the oven delivers crisp-skinned duck and one of these broths whose depths you may stare into for hours on finish.

Lastly, I have a good time a dessert I used to be served at St John which I regard as one of the finest: a plate of golden, still-warm madeleines. “The recipe was simply there and fortunately labored and so they simply saved coming,” Henderson tells me. I conclude I ought to at all times have a jug of this batter in the fridge for madeleine emergencies. That’s the factor about Nostril to Tail Consuming; it’s a ebook inside which you’ll at all times discover one thing profoundly comforting.

Nostril to Tail Consuming: A sort of British Cooking by Fergus Henderson (Bloomsbury, £20) is on the market for £18.20 at


Information bites

With the British seafood business struggling enormously at the arms of a Brexit deal which didn’t think about the ramifications for the export of their catch, fishermen may do with assist. One route by which to try this is to attempt the at-home providing from the Harbour Café on Scotland’s East Neuk of Fife. They provide a spread of decisions from a field of langoustine for £25, by way of a fruits de mer for £70 to the Harbour Café feasting field for 4 at £100. Alongside the seafood itself, bins could embody numerous salads, their very own sourdough, pickles and in the case of the feasting field, uncommon roast beef with horseradish and caper dressing. Obtainable throughout most of the UK mainland, go to

Nice British Menu presenter and Kitchen Cupboard panellist Andi Oliver has additionally made her Wadadli Kitchen home-feasting bins out there nationwide. The menus, which draw on Oliver’s Antiguan heritage, are available in both non-meat and meat variations for 2 individuals at £58 and for 4 at £98. The latter consists of spiced orange and ginger rooster wings, golden tamarind rooster thighs, her famed curry goat, inexperienced slaw, pickles and candy potato rotis, go to

And yet one more: the Good Egg, with a pair of places in London, is now delivering its basic Jewish brunch choices throughout the mainland UK. There are bins with their Montreal-inspired bagels with salt beef and home pickles, or their pastrami trout, in addition to the flaky joys of babka and brownies. At

Electronic mail Jay at [email protected] or observe him on Twitter @jayrayner1

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