Jamie in Yorkshire

Jamie Oliver at Swillington Farm

Yorkshire foodies were all of a Twitter on Tuesday night during Jamie’s Great Britain on C4 when he was trolling around Yorkshire in his funny caravan complete with wood burning oven. The consensus seemed to be that he did  a good job and made us all proud of Yorkshire.

It was refreshing that this wasn’t the usual round of Yorkshire Dales and Wensleydale cheese stories, though there was a Yorkshire Pudding item. He visited the King’s Arms at Heath, near Wakefield feigning surprise that Yorkshire’s were served as a starter to make the meat go further.

I was pleased to see they found some of the less discovered corners of the county, like the Jewish and Chinese communities in Leeds. They filmed a Chinese chef cooking up a  lunch of sea bass at a Chinese community centre and some Jewish women in Oakwood describing their tradition of smoking and pickling.  There was a good sequence with the guys from the Midnight Bell cooking with beer and they found a terrific Turkish restaurant that I’d love to know more about.

They then found Jamie ‘in the middle of nowhere’, nowhere being  Swillington Organic Farm, Leeds who tweeted ‘our chickens are so free range they kept walking into shot’. The final scene was the sort of  heavenly picnic we’re always having in these parts –  tartan rugs spread out in a field: Wensleydale cheese, pork pies, Leeds Best ale and we even forgave him making Eccles cakes.

Jamie’s Lasagne

My mate Annie’s been feeding me for weeks whilst I’ve been filming my BBC programme in Derbyshire; tonight she’s coming over for tea, which gives me the excuse I’ve been looking for to make Jamies Lasagne from his book Jamie’s Dinners. It’s a fresh take on the old chestnut, fiddly but hopefully worthwhile.

I picked up the book in a charity shop for a fiver a couple of months ago and I refer to it much more than I thought I would; never been a massive fan (perfect kids, perfect wife, perfect life aagh) but his recipes are fool proof, and the outcomes are invariably delicious. Plus he doesn’t go in for squidbeakery which is the entire point.

The squash, roasted with coriander seeds and chilli is a genius addition, setting it apart from anything else, plus a sneaky cheat’s white sauce, halving the preparation time. If you can’t be bothered to use both types of meat, just stick to lean minced beef; outcome = same.

How authentic is it? Who cares. It’s scrumptious. End of.

Serves 6


4 rashers pancetta or smoked bacon, finely sliced

a pinch of cinnamon

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, ditto

2 cloves garlic, ditto

2 handfuls herbs (sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme)

Olive oil

400g minced beef

200g minced pork

2 x 400g tins tomatoes

2 glasses red wine and/or water

2 bay leaves

1 butternut squash, halved, de-seeded, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed

1 dried red chilli, crushed

Salt & pepper

400g fresh lasagne sheets

400g mozzarella

For the white sauce

1 x 500ml tub of crème fraiche

3 anchovies, finely chopped

2 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese

A drop of milk.


Fry the pancetta and cinnamon til golden, add the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs and about 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add the meat. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine and/or water and bay leaves. Simmer for about an hour. Put the sliced squash in a baking tray, pour a bit of olive oil on, season with salt, pepper and the bashed up coriander seeds and chilli. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. Mix together the crème fraiche, anchovies and a handful of Parmesan. Season. Add a bit of milk to loosen it.

Turn the oven to 200C/Gas 6. To assemble, rub a big square dish with oil, lay some sheets of pasta over the bottom and drape over the sides. Add a layer of meat, a little white sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Break the squash into pieces and use this as one layer. Repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of pasta covered in white sauce. Tear the mozzarella and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Cook in a pre-heated oven for half an hour.

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