Why should you keep a good bottle of vinegar in your cupboard? And what’s top chef Tom Kerridge’s number one condiment? Here he shares his top must-have ingredients for your store cupboard.
We all keep certain products in constant supply – those must-have seasonings, favourite sauces and core spices. But what do the professionals keep in their cupboards? Tom Kerridge shares the eight ingredients you'll always find in his kitchen.
Tom Kerridge’s top eight ingredients for your larder
Why? Well it’s just lovely! Butter is great spread on bread, toast or crumpets, but also for cooking with. It’s flavoursome, adds colour and it’s multifunctional. People have fears that chefs cook things in loads of butter and it’s really unhealthy, but in actual fact they baste things in butter for flavour, but then take it out before serving. It’s the same as cooking something in olive oil – the dish isn’t swimming in olive oil, it’s just there for flavour.
2. Flaky sea salt
I like to season things quite highly, so salt is very important to me. Really good flaky sea salt is good for texture - it has that really great crunch. I don’t use it at the beginning of cooking, but I finish with it. We make our own salt using sea water at the Hand and Flowers [Tom's pub] and I also use a lot of cheap powdered salt for cooking.
I absolutely love cracked black pepper, but I don’t actually season with it – I use it as a spice, so it’s adding something to the dish rather than just enhancing it.
4. Cayenne pepper
As this is powdered, I put it through things like sauce and stock so it’s all about the flavour, rather than something that gives texture.
5. Good vinegar
Vinegar in cooking is very important, so a really good wine vinegar is worth investing in. When they age vinegars take on a different flavour, but cheap red and white wine varieties just taste like acid and not very nice at all – you want a good vinegar that adds acidity in the right way.
Again, I always stock lemons as their acidity works well in cooking. The outside of citrus has lots of oils, so fine grating some zest over a meal at the end really adds something as the oils absorb into the dish. This works especially with many meat dishes – a lot of people just use lemons for fish.
7. Powdered stock cubes
I don’t ever use them for making stock, but I use them as a seasoning as they add a really lovely meaty saltiness to food. At home especially, if you crumble a stock cube into rice or the base of a risotto, at the beginning of the cooking of any casserole, or things like Bolognese sauce, it works really nicely as a savoury seasoning. Homemade stock is always better as it has body and texture, while cubes have none of that, just flavour, so it’s not a proper substitute.
8. English mustard
Anything that can make grown men cry if they eat too much is pretty cool. It tastes fantastic, and to me it really is the taste of Great Britain. Irrespective of whether you’re having a rare roast beef cooked by a Michelin star chef or a ropey old Sunday lunch in a £4.99 carvery, the minute you put English mustard on it, you know you’re eating a Great British classic.
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Do you agree with Tom’s shortlist? What kitchen essentials can you not be without?