2Profile: Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver knows how to please a crowd. Whether feeding state officials, schoolchildren, or customers at his popular restaurants, he seems unfazed by numbers. So when he’s cooking for, say, two people, his approach is no different: easy peasy. “I think the only time that cooking for two—or cooking for people you want to impress—goes wrong is when you try so hard, you’ve got so many things going on and you’re so stressed that it spoils the atmosphere. The best thing is just to do something simple but do it really, really well.”

Easy for a professional chef to say, but Jamie’s idea of simple cooking does not require prepped plates or getting all “restaurant-y.” Back before he had his own food foundation, before he had four kids (he’s expecting a fifth), and before his TV shows, he and then-girlfriend Jools (now his wife of many years) had opposite work schedules. So Jamie created a quick way to have a nice meal–which works for the cooking and time-challenged.

“I used to do these envelopes in tinfoil and make up little dishes, all sorts of different things,” he explains. “I used to write little notes like, ‘All right, darling. Fancy a bit tonight.’ So you come back at night, bosh it straight in the oven for however many times or what temperatures I said. That’s nice–almost like getting some flowers, basically.”

After all, it’s not what you cook, says Jamie. “People always try and write too much into food and say what food is sexy. I think that’s all shit really. It’s just how you do it. Do you know what I mean? You don’t want to be cheesy sexy. Just kind of intimate.”

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Breast Baked in a Bag

2 7-oz (198g) skinless chicken breasts
1 handful of dried porcini
9 oz (255g) mixed mushrooms, torn up
1 large wineglass of white wine
3 large pats of butter
1 handful of fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

As this is for 2 people, I’m going to make a large envelope/bag to cook everything in. Using wide aluminum foil, make your bag by placing 2 pieces on top of each other (about as big as 2 shoeboxes in length), folding 3 sides in and leaving 1 side open.

Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Mix everything together in a bowl, including the chicken. Place in your bag, with all the wine, making sure you don’t pierce the foil. Close up the final edge, making sure the bag is tightly sealed and secure on all sides, and carefully slide it onto a roasting pan. Place the pan on a high heat for 1 minute to get the heat going, then bake in the middle of your preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven, place the bag on a big plate, take it to the table and break open the foil. Feel free to vary the recipe–things like grated parsnip, smoked bacon and red wine also work well.

Reprinted with permission. From Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver.

Originally published on

Image(s): Chris Terry

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