AIL Meets culinary king, Nathan Outlaw

We catch up with the Michelin-starred chef behind Outlaw's at The Capital

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Outlaw's at the Capital
22-24 Basil Street SW3 1AT
Nathan Outlaw is the Michelin-starred chef behind Outlaw's at The Capital. His speciality is fish, so he and head chef Tom Brown put time and effort into getting to know the best suppliers in Cornwall, making sure only the freshest, most sustainable produce is served at the tables of the luxurious Knightsbridge eatery.

This month they've teamed up with chef Will Torrent to host a special afternoon tea commemorating the Queen's 90th birthday. We caught up with them to chat about all things fish, plus they shared the recipe for Earl Grey biccies shaped like the Queen's crowns for you to replicate at home.

What is the most popular dish at Outlaw's?
Tom Brown: Our menus change every day as our produce comes up from Cornwall daily, however a popular dish on our a la carte menu at the moment is Hake with Mussels, Spring Cabbage, Cider & Clotted Cream Sauce.

How important is where the fish comes from to the final flavour?
Nathan Outlaw: Menus at Outlaw’s are deliberately short, featuring fish that is in season and at its best. We've worked hard to nurture great relationships with our suppliers, and as a result we can really show off the best of British fish. For me the fish is always the star of the show. I never overpower it with heavy sauces.

What made you specialise in fish?
NO: British seafood is my passion and I love everything about it. Fish and the sea fascinate me. Cooking with fish is never boring because it's so versatile.

What are the best and worst things about being a Michelin-starred chef?
NO: Lack of sleep is probably the worst! But I get to do what I love every day and spending time cooking in any of my restaurant kitchens is where I am happiest. I am really excited about my new restaurant opening in September in Dubai because I can take my love of fish and style of cooking overseas. Also I'm looking forward to discovering new species and products there.

Do you ever have time to eat out? And where do you go?
TB: Not as much as I would like! My favourite restaurant in London is Pitt Cue Co, their meat is amazing. I also really like Hedone - their approach to ingredients is so unique.
NO: Lyle’s, James Lowe’s restaurant in Shoreditch, Pitt Cue Co - Tom Adams is the best meat cook in London, he verges on genius. Barrafina, I always go because it’s so much fun, true Spanish tapas at their best and always buzzing. Bar Boulud, I go a lot because it’s just around the corner from the Capital. A great place to pop in for a drink after a busy service!

You run a training academy for chefs too, what made you start this?
NO: I am really passionate about nurturing and supporting young talent in the industry. It’s so important and exciting to be able to develop new industry talent and work with young chefs through practical education.

What's the most important piece of advice you give to aspiring chefs?
NO: It’s hard work and long hours but the most rewarding industry. Cook with love always, listen, watch, and ask questions!
TB: The kitchen should be fun, and cooking is something to be enjoyed. Work hard and cook with love, and remember how important it is to work as a team.

Recipe for Earl Grey Crowns

(makes 24)
4 teaspoons of loose Earl Grey tea leaves
200g of butter, softened
175g of golden caster/raw cane sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
A few drops of food-grade bergamot oil (optional)
425g of plain/all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
A pinch of salt
Icing confectioner’s sugar, for rolling out
400g of coloured sugar paste icing/frosting
Lustre dust, to decorate (optional)

Kitchen tools
A crown-shaped cookie cutter
2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment
A textured silicon rolling mat (optional)

Tip the Earl Grey tea leaves into a mortar and gently grind with the pestle; they should retain a little texture. If the leaves are too finely ground they will make the shortbreads a grey colour.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and light. Add the tea leaves and lemon zest and mix again. Gradually add the egg in two or three additions and mix until thoroughly combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and continue mixing until thoroughly combined. Bring the dough together into a ball using your hands, flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm or plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until firm.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of around 3 mm. Use the crown-shaped cookie cutter to stamp out shapes from the dough and arrange on the lined baking sheets. Gather the dough off-cuts and re-roll to make more shapes and chill the biscuits for a further 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F) Gas 3. Bake the biscuits on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool on the sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until cold.

Lightly dust the work surface with icing or confectioners’ sugar and roll out the sugarpaste in the colour of your choice to a thickness of about 2 mm. Lay the textured mat if using on top, and give another couple of turns of the rolling pin to press the indents into the icing. Using the cookie cutter, stamp out a shape from the icing/frosting, lightly brush one biscuit with water and lay the icing/ frosting shape neatly on top. Gently press the two together and repeat until all of the biscuits are covered. Using a clean paint brush, decorate each biscuits with lustre if you wish. Leave to dry out before serving.

Recipe from Will Torrent’s book, Afternoon Tea at Home, published by Ryland, Peters & Small Ltd, 2016
Added on June 14, 2016
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