The Chop House dates back to the sixteenth century.
It was a place where businessmen ate and conducted their affairs over platters of meat and ale.
Mentioned in Dickens,this culinary institution has resurfaced today as Mark Hix’s Chop and Oyster house near London’s Smithfield Market.
Specialising in choice cuts of meat on the bone and oysters, once an everyday street food in the area, the restaurant emulates both simple and fine foods at their best.
All too often restaurant cookbooks are published with intricate dishes that defy reproduction at home. Not so here. The sound ethos behind the cooking is to source the best ingredients and do as little to them as possible.
The moment you open the book, food jumps out at you from the stunning photos and begs to be prepared, no matter what your level of cooking expertise may be.
The book is divided into chapters broadly reflecting a menu allowing for a logical classification of what you may want to cook. Even bar snacks, which can so easily be put together as part of a casual dining experience at home make an enticing entrée all on their own. No fancy kit required – a cooker, a few basic pieces of equipment and you’re away – not forgetting that ever important catalyst – the best ingredients you can lay your hands on.
Oysters and meat are given special attention (not unsurprisingly) with pictorial guides as to how they should look – size, colour and marbling all figure in this section. If you were unsure as to how a wing rib or Barnsley chop looks, there is something here to guide you, other than a glib supermarket label stamped with bland information and a sell by date.
The recipe collection reflects a strong British bias, with aged Caerphilly, Manx queenies, Tewksbury mustard, pease pudding and scrumpy all making an appearance within the book’s pages.
There are also plenty of ideas for using the more unusual cuts of meat, such as cross cut rib of beef, sweetbreads, and mutton, which is becoming ever more popular with the more adventurous eater.
On a personal note, the seafood and meat combos such as beef and oyster pie and the spectacularly photographed chicken and lobster pie would be my first recipes of choice. I will however take the sage advice and seek out the best I can find before I attempt them.
Start with the best and the results will not disappoint. Well done Mr Hix.
Hix Oyster & Chop House