As we say goodbye to winter and turn our faces up to the springtime sunshine, it’s likely that the contents of our shopping baskets are taking a seasonal turn. Classic summery recipes tend to be of a cooling and refreshing bent, the assumption being that we’ll be broiling in heat from now till October. Of course, it’s likely that won’t happen and anyway, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t fancy something comforting and homely, even during the warmer months. While a steaming and sticky stew escorted by buttery mash might not quite fit the bill, there are plenty of comfort-food dishes to savour, whatever the weather might be up to outside.
Boned Chicken Thighs: soaked overnight in buttermilk then coated in breadcrumbs and shallow fried have deep-South indulgence written all over them. The super-soft meat makes a satisfying contrast with crispy Romaine lettuce leaves drizzled with ranch dressing.
Pork Shoulder: Slow cooking needn’t be the preserve of winter, as is proven by the summery success of pulled pork. Braising a pork shoulder overnight in cider and spices results in falling-apart tenderness. Stuffed into fluffy white rolls, this hits the comfort-food spot. Just add apple sauce.
Diced Stewing Beef Steak: It may seem contradictory, but eating spicy foods in warm weather has a cooling effect. A hot, hot, hot beef rendang curry combines a big hit of heat tempered by the sweetness of coconut. Serve it with fluffy basmati rice and fresh chutneys to transport yourself to Indonesia in an instant.
Streaky Bacon: Wintertime comfort food makes the most of carbs that make you feel full up and well insulated. In the summer, delegate carb duty to a hearty potato salad tossed with a fragrant vinaigrette dressing and sprinkled with crumbs of well-crisped streaky bacon.
Pork Rib Eye Steak: Make the most of abundant seasonal veg by stirring up a full-flavoured ratatouille bursting with fresh tomatoes and herbs and serving it alongside quickly grilled pork rib-eye steak.
Duck: Classic honey-roast Peking duck is oh-so moreish and super-simple to make. You can make it lighter but nonetheless tummy-warming by ditching the flour pancakes and wrapping the shredded meat (with spring onions and hoisin sauce, of course) in leaves of iceberg lettuce instead. Sounds daft, actually genius.
Bacon Lardons: Whip up a pancake batter and add fresh sweetcorn kernels, some sizzled-up bacon lardons and chopped chives to make crisp-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside fritters. A side of zingy salsa popping with chilli will remind you it’s summer. Grab a big handful each of fresh parsley and coriander, along with a few sprigs of oregano, a couple of cloves of garlic and a small shallot. Blitz them all together in a blender (or chop finely by hand) before adding the zest of half a lemon, a good squeeze of lemon juice, a generous glug of olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of cider vinegar. Season to taste with red chilli flakes, salt and pepper.