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A menu with a BAM... chef cooks up storm in new tome

The debut release by Lee Tiernan, of the renowned St JOHN restaurant, is something else. Ella Walker gives her verdict

Tucking in: Lee Tiernan was head chef at the St JOHN restaurant
Tucking in: Lee Tiernan was head chef at the St JOHN restaurant
Black Axe Mangal's deep-fried mince pie

By Ella Walker

Black Axe Mangal is arguably part-restaurant, part-tattooed lifestyle choice - and it's eponymous cookbook might just be the gateway to all your wildest culinary dreams.

Run by Lee Tiernan - former head chef at the prestigious St JOHN restaurant, which is the work of Fergus Henderson (who has written the book's foreword) and Trevor Gulliver - and his wife Kate, BAM, as it's known, combines a certain rowdiness with some quite formidable cooking.

You can now join the bone marrow-eating mob...

The book: Black Axe Mangal by Lee Tiernan

Who will love it?

Anyone who likes food with punch, who isn't afraid of eating the weirder bits of animals (offal, squid ink, blood, etc), who adores big platefuls and raucous flavour combinations, as well as those who frequent the restaurant and rather fancy taking a bit home with them, and those who are unlikely to ever get to the restaurant but could do with a slice of the BAM life anyway.

What is it trying to get us cooking?

Hugely fun dishes to wrap your tongue around. Tiernan's food is audacious, gutsy and pretty meaty.

He's big on throwing stuff into the flames and adding layer upon layer of flavour - the concept of 'that's enough' does not seem to apply.

There are moments of nostalgia (like takes on a Findus crispy pancake and a Big Mac 2.0) and sophistication (beef tartare with prawn toast, pigeon with blackened onions), as well as a serious respect for grilling (there are pages and pages on what to fold into flatbread - from lamb offal to aubergine and ricotta). It's certainly not delicate, but it is wanton in all the best ways - and super sweary.

How easy is it to use?

Admittedly, some of the recipes are very involved and require a hefty list of ingredients. However, the instructions are clear (four pages are dedicated to how you butcher a hare), to the point and tell you what corners you can cut.

There are some suggestions that are barely recipes at all (eg caviar and sour cream and chive crisps - aka caviar from a tin and a tube of Pringles). It's a question of how far you want to push yourself.

The best recipe is...

The oxtail, bone marrow and anchovy - this is an ode to the nose-to-tail ways of St JOHN.

The recipe we're most likely to post pictures of on Instagram is...

Shrimp-encrusted pig's tails with pickled chicory - they're just so curly.

The dish we're least likely to try is...

Gull's egg, caviar and sea urchin because who would have even one of these in their fridge? Or the peanut and foie gras bar - foie gras ice cream just sounds like far too much effort, however decadent the result may be.

Overall rating: 8/10

It's loud, bold, brazen cooking - and the photography is spectacular. Buy, buy, buy and feel like part of the BAM club - it's basically a food cult.

Black Axe Mangal's deep-fried mince pie

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Black Axe Mangal's deep-fried mince pie
 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

375g shop-bought puff pastry

320g mince pie filling

1 egg, beaten

200g plain flour

350ml sparkling water

100ml neutral oil (eg sunflower or vegetable)

10g salt

Sunflower or vegetable oil, for deep frying

To serve:

Icing sugar

Clotted cream or ice cream

Zest of 1 orange

METHOD

1. Roll out the pastry on a chopping board and cut it into eight equal rectangles. Spoon an eighth of the mince pie filling onto half of one of the puff pastry rectangles. Brush the outer edge of the pastry with the beaten egg. Fold over the vacant edge. Press down the two sides and crimp along the edge with a fork. Repeat with the other seven pies. Place the pies on a tray, cover and place in the freezer until completely frozen.

2. Next, make the slurry. Add the flour, sparkling water, oil and salt to a food processor (or the cup of a hand-held blender) and blend everything. Once combined, pour into a bowl.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 110C/225F/gas mark 1/4. Heat the oil in the deep-fat fryer to 160C/325F.

4. Retrieve a pie from the freezer, dunk it in the slurry and gently lay it in the deep-fat fryer. I can get two pies in my fryer at home. Cook for seven to eight minutes, until golden brown and crisp. When cooked, drain on kitchen paper. Transfer the fried pies to a roasting pan fitted with a wire rack and place in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining pies.

5. Dust with icing sugar and serve with clotted cream or ice cream and the zest of an orange.

SERVES 8

Black Axe Mangal by Lee Tiernan is published by Phaidon, £24.95. Photography by Jason Lowe

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