He may have French blood in his veins, but Michel Roux Jr. is championing good old British bangers
Michel Roux Jr. loves sausages. He really, really loves sausages (“It’s as simple as that!”), so it makes sense that he’s signed up to be the face of this year’s British Sausage Week (November 2-8).
“Even though I have got French heritage, I was born in England and brought up on the great British banger,” explains the chef, who heads up his family’s two-starred Michelin restaurant, Le Gavroche, in London.
His current go-to sausage recipe is definitely on the gourmet end of the banger spectrum though: a take on beef bourguignon, it’s pork sausages grilled and cooked like a stew in red wine sauce, and served with mashed potato.
So no, you won’t often spot him tucking into a ketchup-dripping sausage butty down his local caff...
“I do occasionally - very occasionally - go to a greasy spoon. I’m more of a sausage at home man,” he says with a rueful laugh. “For me, they’re a comfort food.”
In between cooking up a storm on the sausage front and leaving MasterChef: The Professionals in 2014, the 55-year-old has been braving budding cooks, ranging in age from nine to 12 years, in First Class Chefs on the Disney Channel UK.
“It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” he says enthusiastically. “Having never worked with children on camera before, it was quite an experience, very heart-warming. And it was great to see them so passionate about food.”
Were there any dramas?
“Loads and loads! They were working as teams, so sometimes they were best friends and, because they didn’t always agree on how to cook a recipe, things could get very, very fraught - but they all made up in the end.”
He’s hopeful there will be a second season, but even if there isn’t, his diary is already bulging over the next few months.
There’s a Channel 4 series he’s just finished filming called The Diner, big plans for another cook book, and then there’s the success of his daughter and their joint projects to focus on too.
Emily Roux has recently been hired as a consultant by the prestigious hospitality company, Restaurant Associates.
While Roux-the-elder is suitably proud, it doesn’t stop the pair clashing in the kitchen. “’Course we do!” he shouts. “We’re Rouxs! We’ve got certain ideas about how food should be cooked and presented, and we’re not afraid to voice our opinions.
“But it is very good,” he adds sweetly, “it makes us stronger.”
From how he appears on TV, it’s difficult to imagine Roux Jr. ever really losing his temper, whether at his daughter or his roster of top chefs.
When he does, “it’s normally very short lived and I always make sure that afterwards I explain why I lost my rag”, he says.
“I tend not to lose my temper because if you do, you actually lose control, and I’m a control freak, so very rarely will I blow my top. But if I do, it’s not nice!”
A keen marathon runner (20 and counting), he has been out of action for a few months due to a problem with his calf muscles, but promises: “Next year I’ll come back with a vengeance.”
Aside from the obvious health benefits, he explains that mentally, running is “a great escape, and to be on my own, that’s really nice. And then, because you burn off a lot of calories, you can eat whatever you want. Haha!”
Just before Roux Jr. returns to his sausages (he’ll be taste-testing many of the 500 that will be on offer during British Sausage Week), since we’re talking bangers, the question has to be asked... “My first ever car was a Peugeot 104. It was certainly rough around the edges. It was old and was even rougher round the edges when I sold it on to the next person - an even bigger banger!”
Planning your own sausage feast? Try this twist on a classic meal:
PORK AND LEEK SAUSAGE BOURGUIGNON
8 pork and leek sausages
12 button onions, peeled
12 button mushrooms
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
500ml strong red wine
500ml beef stock
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
Boil the wine with the thyme, bay leaf and sugar until reduced by half, pass through a sieve and set aside.
Cook the onions in a saucepan until golden using all the butter, then add the flour and garlic and mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and stock, bring to the boil, add the mushrooms and carrots.
Lightly grill the sausages until coloured but not cooked through. Add these to the red wine sauce and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
Check the seasoning, sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and serve with either a creamy mashed potato or buttered new potatoes.