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Roast Chicken And Other Stories Hardcover – September 4, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This idiosyncratic though charming cookbook was first published in the U.K. in 1994 and became a runaway favorite with a second publication in 2006. Hopkinson, a founding chef of London's Bibendum and a newspaper columnist, rejects the notion that a dinner's merit should be judged by its number of ingredients or steps. Instead, his earthy sensibility is guided by French techniques, rich English ingredients and lots and lots of butter. Chapters are organized not by course but by Hopkinson's favorite ingredients, such as eggplant (grilled, creamed, baked and stewed in his cayenne-spiked version of the Turkish classic Imam Bayildi); leeks (in vinaigrette, in a tart crust, vichyssoise, baked with cream and mint); and tripe (Madrid-style, Lyonnaise style, deep-fried). Each chapter begins with a bit of history and often witty personal reminiscence. He'll chart the use of anchovies around the globe, quote fellow food writer Elizabeth David on the beauty of anchoïade and guide readers to the best canned variety in the market. The recipes themselves are designed for the intuitive cook who can gauge a dish's doneness by its color rather than by slavish devotion to a timer. Yet Hopkinson's recipes are true winners, inspiring confidence in the kitchen and pleasure at the table with their simple, satisfying flavors. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In engaging short essays and appealing recipes, celebrated London chef Hopkinson illustrates how far British cuisine has progressed both in restaurants and homes since the dreary postwar days of bangers, mash, and overcooked beef. Proceeding alphabetically from anchovies through veal, Hopkinson offers his trenchant observations on the best uses for each food product. Hopkinson does not hesitate to encourage readers to plunge into uncommon edibles such as brains, grouse, and tripe. He also reveres vegetables, devoting a section to taken-for-granted items such as parsley, which he suggests turning into a bright soup. Among the fish he favors, cod stands out as especially worthy when not suffering abuse at the hands of careless cooks. Some of the foods he cites, including hake, smoked haddock, and fresh kidneys, may not be generally available in U.S. markets, but recipes have been recast to reflect American measurements. Knoblauch, Mark

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Revised ed. edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401308627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401308629
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This award winning book is wonderful. It is full of stories about food, with short fanfares for some of their favorite cookery writers, restauranteurs, and chefs. But best of all are the recipes; every one that I have tried has been scrumptious, and I look forward to trying more.
The book is arranged as chapters with titles such as: 'Anchovies', 'Garlic','Saffron', 'Chicken', 'Scallops','Endive', 'Chocolate', ..... Each chapter starts with a description or story about the subject followed by 3 or 4 recipes.
Simon Hopkinson writes a weekly food column in the UK newspaper, The Independant, and has worked as a chef in both the UK and France. His column is always fun to read, just like this book...... and you get the idea that Simon Hopkinson knows what it is like buying food at the local supermarket with the rest of us mortals! The recipes are accessible and 'doable' and the results are dishes that are classy and very satisfying.
If you like Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Cookery books, or Elizabeth David's Cookery Books, you'll probably like this book too. You may also want to look out for their book called 'The Prawn Cocktail Years', which is also very good.
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Format: Hardcover
"The most useful cookbook of all time." That's what Britain's Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine said in 2005 about "Roast Chicken and Other Stories" after surveying English food writers, restaurateurs and chefs.

Simon Hopkinson's triumph was something of a surprise. His book was thin: just 148 recipes. There wasn't a single photograph of food in the book. And when it was first published in England in 1993, it hadn't been a huge seller.

The award changed all that so dramatically that "Roast Chicken" started outselling "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" on Amazon.com's English site. Now, fourteen years after Brits started cooking from it, "Roast Chicken" has finally been published in the United States. Talk about delayed gratification!

Why is this book so esteemed?

Hopkinson thinks he has a clue: "Without blowing my trumpet, I always knew it was a good book because it had nice things in it which you couldn't help but want to eat. And as long as the recipes work, I knew it would be a useful book to have."

Your detective work need go no further than the clues in his response. "Nice things...you want to eat" --- that means simple, familiar food, food that smells as good as it tastes. And "the recipes work" is a bottom-line explanation that, yes, if you follow directions, you can actually make these dishes more or less as well as Hopkinson.

Still, "useful" needs a bit of explanation --- it means of use to the English. For that reason, there are many, many recipes in these pages that will have doubtful appeal to American cooks and eaters. Five recipes for...brains. Another five for...cod. Grouse. Hake. Kidneys. Rabbit. Haddock. Sweetbreads. Tripe.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I happened to stumble on a description of this book somewhere and read it was recently reprinted and was rated the most popular cook book in England. I can see why it's so popular. A pleasure to read, not just for the recipes, which are a mixture of western European classics, English 'comfort foods' and a few more contemporary recipes from the 70's era. It's the stories in this book that make it so endearing. This book is an obvious labor of love.

I like that the author chose to share his favorite foods with us. In my opinion the best part of this cook book is the stories he tells about each recipe, how he discovered it and his experiences in the pleasures of enjoying a well made meal. This is not a book meant to impress, it's a sharing of the joys of cooking and eating from the author's heart.

A few of his recipes will seem very foreign to the American palate and some of his cooking directions may take a bit of getting used to for the less experienced American cook. In some cases he gives very clear directions and in other cases he assumes you know what you're doing and the directions are more sparse. Still, don't be intimidated by my description here. This is worth having in your kitchen.

All in all, a pure delight.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book largely because of the extensive hype it received in the New York Times. Now it's arrived, I'm disappointed. The book is organized around specific ingredients; once I take out those I can't face the thought of eating (brains, rabbit, liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, tripe) and those I'll never find (squab, smoked haddock, hake, cepes, grouse), there's not much of the book left. There are not very many recipes and quite a few of them cover familiar ground--olive oil mashed potatoes, lemon surprise pudding, roast leg of lamb, etc. I'm sure I'll find a few good ideas in here, but calling this "the most useful cookbook of all time" is a real stretch.
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Format: Hardcover
Simon Hopkinson is a venerable English chef and newspaper columnist who enjoys pushing for simple, home-y food. This cookbook, originally published in London in 1994, is a small but useful collection of Hopkinson's favorite recipes, along with personal stories and asides to accompany each one.

My husband is a retired chef and his most basic meals are my favorites. Not that I don't love the rolled and stuffed game hens or the complex patés, but nothing compares to his beef lentil soup and his roast chicken with garlic buttermilk mashed potatoes.

In Roast Chicken and Other Stories we find a celebration of simple home cooking. There's plenty of butter, cream, and other "no-no's" to be found, but very little processed pre-cooked and microwaved food. This book celebrates fresh food, be it potatoes, chicken, or calves brains. It is simply organized around Hopkinson's favorite ingredients, and while many of them are not appetizing to an American taste (i.e., kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads) there is enough that is universal enough to suit us all.

Hopkinson writes in a very conversational style with many cooking tips in the prose and not in the recipes, so it is important that you read the entire book and then bookmark the recipes you like. For example, he tells us that boiling is better than steaming for vegetables to maintain color and texture (just don't overdo it) and that canned Italian tomatoes will work better in most stews and sauces than fresh Western tomatoes.

My favorite recipes? The Eggs Florentine, the Chocolate Tart, and the ubiquitous Roast Chicken. But again, don't just buy Roast Chicken and Other Stories for the recipes - but for the prose. Witty, warm, and interesting tales will make you feel like you are in the kitchen with a good friend who also happens to be great cook, and who doesn't like that?
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