Food: Don’t scoff at scraps, says resourceful Hugh

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall talks about his mission to end food waste, with a new cookbook

This is, after all, a man who was once nicknamed “Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall”, and his latest book, Love Your Leftovers, sets out to get everyone else doing the same.

The 50-year-old celebrity chef, famed for his River Cottage series and books, is horrified at the amount of food and leftovers we chuck in the bin, and sees odds and ends as “a really legitimate source of ingredients”.

“More than half the meals I put together incorporate something from a previous meal, or something that’s knocking around or needs eating up, that’s wagging its finger at me saying, ‘If you don’t eat me soon I’ll be on the compost’.

“This is something that’s very ingrained in me, but talking to others, it’s something people don’t always have a lot of confidence around,” he says, explaining the drive behind the book.

“There’s a lot we can do to get the best out of our ingredients, throw less away, to save money and address what is amounting to a major environmental problem, and we can all do our bit. But it doesn’t have to be done out of a sense of guilty conscience, it can be done with a great sense of joy and excitement, because - here’s the real crux of it - I’ve always found the dishes I spin out of leftovers to be the most satisfying and delicious.”

From salvaged greens and leftover lamb transformed into a Shepherd’s pie, the Old Etonian does also include recipes for crispy fish skeletons (which he admits is going “out on a limb”) and potato peel soup.

“You can actually spin a really original and delicious little snack from a mackerel skeleton and a little bit of spice from the cupboard,” he buzzes, adding: “And potato peel soup is an absolute revelation!”

Apparently it tastes like the liquidised skin of a baked potato, packed with “an earthy, almost mushroomy, umami flavour”.

“Food waste is a solvable problem. We just need to be a bit smart about how we address that, and if we’re going to demand that of the supermarkets - and I think we should - we also have to be ready to do our bit.”

If your fridge is overflowing with odds and ends, before chucking them in the bin, have a go at this recipe from Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new book...