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Roast Chicken & Other Stories
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Roast Chicken & Other Stories

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  693 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Simon Hopkinson's 40 favourite ingredients include such everyday basics as potatoes, chicken and cod as well as more exotic foods such as asparagus and truffles. The book is arranged alphabetically with a chapter on each food. Unable to hide his great love of food, Hopkinson writes about why he likes each particular ingredient, and gives sesnsible advice on quality, variet ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by Trafalgar Square Publishing (first published May 27th 1994)
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"The most useful cookbook of all time"... perhaps, if you have brains lying around on the shelf, or mutton. I cannot speak for the recipes in the book, since I did not cook any: but then, none looked particularly appealing. It is filled with sporadic, cutting criticisms of select foods, cooking styles, and eating styles, in a faux "matter-of-fact" tone that has become an ample substitute for food acumen. I don't doubt his acumen, really, but I don't care to follow along, either.
Jan 30, 2008 Rae rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love books about food. So I was very excited to read this after a glowing article in the NYT Magazine food column (12/2/07). It had knocked Harry Potter off the top of the UK Amazon bestsellers list and was described by Waitrose, a British food magazine as "the most useful cookbook of all time" Wow!
So...I was a little perplexed when this wonder book turned out to be very slight (lots of white space) and with no illustrations to speak of. Divided into 40 alphabetical chapters, each highlights a
Apr 15, 2008 Tami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found Roast Chicken and Other Stories a little different from the other cookbooks that I've used. The thing I like most about this book is the conversational tone throughout the book. Even while working through the recipes, I felt like I was having a nice conversation with the author. He'd tell me about the places he'd travelled, why he'd added this recipe to the book, or about an interesting experience. I think that perhaps this friendly, down to earth tone made me a little more willing to tr ...more
Hopkinson is a culinary reactionary in a mostly endearingly cranky way. This was the "it book" in the culinary world a few years ago. I looked at it in Politics and Prose but didn't think I needed recipes for brains, liver, kidneys, grouse, cod, smoked haddock, sweetbreads, or tripe. The "most useful cookbook of all time" blurb made me laugh--only in England! But he includes more enticing foods too: the simple pleasures of asparagus, chicken, chocolate, cream, eggs, endive, spinach, potatoes. He ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quaint and informative. I read this over the course of 8 months a while back, when I was dating Marisa. I left it in her apartment and would read a chapter (they're short) here and there before bed. Great book for that sort of set up. The writing is dry, witty and incisive. This man has no shortage of opinions in the kitchen. I disagree with a very few, but on the whole, Hopkinson can do a lot to advance most amateur or intermediate cooks quite a lot by way of his wit, perspective and stories. N ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
I read this with great enjoyment. Here was a chef who was writing the mature and sober version of what Jamie Oliver was doing when he was young and exciting. Hopkinson is a better chef and a more knowledgable foodman than the young Jamie. He's got wide and diverse tastes and some of the recipes are sensational. I cooled a little as he ventured into the Rick Stein - I first came across this recipe in a taverna on the edge of a precipice on the lost island of Atlantis where chef, and bloody good m ...more
Oct 06, 2009 kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Undoubtedly, this book is misnamed. (It is a recipe book, not a story book.) And perhaps it is overly-praised. I imagine every recipe in this book tastes perfect, but only if one's palate has been cultivated in a particular way.

Mr. Hopkinson has no use for the avant-garde, saying that their ideas are very often "misguided." He claims that good cooking is a blend of common sense and good taste, and prefers to please diners rather than impress them.

I *do* very much enjoy reading this book. The p
Jul 25, 2010 Jill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking
I wanted to like this book, but the problems started when I realized I was looking at a book about roast chicken instead of roasted garlic, and it just went downhill from there. The idea is good - a cookbook arranged in alphabetical order by ingredient, with a little something about said ingredient to introduce it. However, this man seems to have a generally limited palate. He seems to like blander items and LOTS of meat. The recipes tend to be very heavy on butter and heavy cream, and I haven't ...more
May 11, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had somehow never heard of this book, even though I've come to understand it's pretty famous. Roast Chicken is a very personal cookbook annotated with both practical cooking advice and great stories, which is my favorite kind of cookbook. Hopkinson has a great love of food. It's obvious when you find yourself reading the kidney section (the book is organized by ingredient) and thinking that they don't sound bad.
The book doesn't have a common thread (other than it's the author's musings on food
Whitney Archibald
May 08, 2009 Whitney Archibald rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Whitney by: Tamsin
Shelves: cooking
This is a hybrid between a food memoir and a cookbook. My best explanation for it is that it was like taking a private cooking class from a famous chef with a great personality -- minus the tasting part, unfortunately. I love how he organized the book. He chooses one main ingredient, writes a brief essay about it, then follows it with delightfully chatty recipes, which include tips and techniques.

My only beef with the book is that he goes on and on about how simplicity, good ingredients, and go
Nov 03, 2008 Karima rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
NOT for the cholesterol conscious!
Heavy on meat, butter, cream. Here is an example of some of the chapters:
Brains. Cépes. Cream. Grouse. Hake. Kidneys. Liver. Rabbit. Squab. Sweetbreads. Tripe. Get the picture?
Each chapter of this book is launched with meditations on whatever food the chapter is highlighting. No photographs but lovely little watercolors, just one per chapter.
The author felt that his book would be a success because, in his words, it is filled with, "Nice w
Aug 11, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The much loved and admired Hopkinson.
A great book.
Ask many chefs in the the world what the best, simplest meal is and they'll probably chose a simple, quality, roast chicken with nothing but a bit of salt and pepper sprinkled on it.
The rest is good too !
May 13, 2014 Philippa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
Endearing and friendly book, lots of interesting ideas. Can't imagine I will cook all that much from it but I liked reading it. Particularly enjoyed the "fanfare" sections where the author pays tribute to a cook or food writer who has inspired him.
Leslie Ann
Feb 16, 2015 Leslie Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-wine
I don't know if this is the "most useful cookbook of all time," but it is a lovely read. Hopkinson's tone is opinionated, but not overbearing. I was a little surprised how many recipes come from published sources, but amused by shout-outs ("fanfare") to fellow chefs.

My favorite quote:
It is interesting to hear what the Larousse Gastronomique (the technical food bible) has to say about sweetbreads: "Chemical analysis of this substance shows that it contains three times more albumen and four to f
Feb 19, 2008 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little book, but I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. The "stories" are more like essays, and at only about a page long, there's not a lot there. The recipes sound good (I didn't try any), but the novel-sized layout of the book makes it impractical for actually reading while cooking.

I love that the book was organized by ingredient, though -- spanning the more traditional asparagus and endive to the more adventurous brains and tripe, with plenty or recipes for each. The short sections
Liz De Coster
Aug 21, 2008 Liz De Coster rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, food
I'd call this book 'adorable,' if it didn't sound so patronizing. I'm not normally a fan of cookbooks in this style - no pictures (I love food pr0n), tiny font on small pages, etc - but the writing and descriptions in this book made me feel ... happier. It's the sort of book I'd like to curl up with in bed, in hopes that it will lead to lovely water-colored dreams.

Unfortunately, many of the ingredients described in the book are outside of the range of what I eat. So, happiness aside, I will pro
Nov 10, 2015 Abi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yuki Shimmyo
May 15, 2008 Yuki Shimmyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies and folks interested in English chefs
I have a new appreciation for Anchovy.. Not quite ready for Brain (but I won't refuse to try it).. The recipe for roast Chicken is spot on - nearly identical to my tried-and-true "Real Simple" magazine recipe and what I've gleaned from James Beard cookbooks. Had opp to try monkfish liver sushi and it IS just like foie gras! Chapters are in alphabetical order, which is a little odd, but highlights interesting foods. I like the watercolor illustrations - don't expect photos of finished dishes.
Oct 28, 2011 Robin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK, there is no way that this is the "most useful cookbook of all time." But it's funny, and personal, with great stories about food, and a strong point of view, and I love it.

I love the recipes for more out-there ingredients, and the unabashed usage of butter and cream in large quantities.

I'll never cook everything in it, but the things I have cooked have been great (with the exception of the roast chicken, actually--fine but unremarkable).
May 21, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent cookbook. Hopkinson's stories about each ingredient read like they're from an old friend, and the book itself could be kept in the kitchen or by your bed to read at night. It's short, but filled with interesting recipes by ingredient (though some, like brains, I'm not wont to try soon) that are a mix of classic, useful, and avant-garde. I would suggest this as a supplement to whatever mainstay cookbooks you already own.
Jan 15, 2008 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
The Times Dining section recommended this book recently. I found it at a used bookstore, where I happened to be WITHOUT A WALLET, but my accommodating spouse bought it for me. (I hope he will benefit down the road.) The review was right. This is a cookbook in disguise: no photos, small size, it feels more like a small, artsy little volume. The writing is enjoyable. I haven't cooked from it yet.
Jul 07, 2010 Gillian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I bought when I was really first learning to cook (not, of course, that you ever stop learning really). Hopkinson takes one classic ingredient per chapter and talks through its virtues and uses before leading the salivating reader through a selection of lovely recipes featuring the highlighted ingredient. Fab, and another book I come back to frequently.
Jan 21, 2008 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-non-fiction
Hoping for a few more stories than recipes, I have to say that I really won't be going back to the book for the in-depth recipes. If you are looking for good British food or if your idea of great food is deep fried anything, anchovies, or eggplant, than this is the book for you. (Not that I dislike any of these items, but just not what I was expecting.)
Feb 15, 2009 Fiona715 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just started reading this book which was named one of the best cookbooks of 2007 by a number of sources. Tonight I made the simple roast chicken and it was fabulous! Seriously, lemon juice, tarragon, thyme, garlic and butter combine for one of the juiciest (and simplest) meals I've had in ages. Can't wait to explore the rest of this book.
Jul 03, 2010 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbooks
I'm conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it's kind of charming and cranky, and his voice is strong and sure. On the other hand, I have no desire to cook anything in it, except maybe one or two things, maybe. I think a cookbook should have you salivating and dashing into the kitchen.
Sep 20, 2009 Sheral rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed how the author got his inspiration for the recipes that he uses or invents.
This would be a nice book to own for anyone looking at cookbooks more than any other book.
Its always nice to hear how a person comes up with their interpretation of a recipe or technique.
Feb 01, 2012 Birgitta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
A good read and good, mainly British and French classical recipes. Just tried 'Slow-braised belly pork with soy, ginger and garlic' and it was lovely, very good flavours but still very simple to make (used pressure cooker so didn't take more than about an hour in total)
Thaddeus Croyle
I wanted to like this book more, but it just wasn't the book I was expecting. I wanted longer essays and fewer recipes. There were recipes in here I'd try, but most were reprinted from other places I'd be more likely to look first; the curse of the slim generalist cookbook.
Nov 11, 2008 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, food
Haven't totally decided whether this is a cookbook or a book of essays. The recipes I've tried have been quite good, though they're very idiosyncratic in their selection (which I guess is the idea). Perhaps less suited overall to the kitchen than the bookshelf.
May 11, 2008 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. I heard about it on NPR as a good book to get as a gift for a chef. I finally ordered it to give to the chef in our family. When it came, it looked interesting, so I picked it up and started reading. Wonderful insights on foods and cooking.
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