A quiet culinary professional, Philip Howard has been Head Chef (and co-owner with Nigel Platts-Martin) of The Square since it’s opening in December 1991.
Prior to joining The Square, Howard worked with Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s, Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum and with Roux Restaurants Ltd.
Phil’s distinctive modern French food has enjoyed great critical and consumer success. A first Michelinstarwas awarded to The Square in 1994. The second star, awarded in 1998 has now been retained for 14 years. Numerous personal accolades have followed from The Catey Award for Chef of the year, the AA Restaurant Guide Chef’s Chef of the year, The Craft Guild of Chefs Restaurant Chef of the year to most recently Restaurateur of the year at the 2011 Cateys.
He opened his second restaurant, The Ledbury, in July 2005, also with Nigel Platts-Martin and with his former Sous Chef Brett Graham. The Ledbury holds 2 Michelin stars.
His third and fourth restaurants, Kitchen W8 and Sonnys Kitchen opened in 2008 and 2012 respectively, and are both in partnership with Rebecca Mascarenhas. Kitchen W8 holds 1 Michelin star.
“This is an incredibly simple dish where, as one always hopes, the total is more than the sum of the parts. It is clean, full of flavour, quick and easy to execute. To successfully make small quantities of pesto a pestle and mortar is required. Top quality fresh pesto can also be bought.” – Phil Howard
4 Red mullet fillets (or any other Mediterranean fish).
2 Small aubergines.
4 garlic cloves, peeled and three of them finely sliced.
2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped.
1 small red onion, finely chopped.
1 bunch of basil.
100ml Olive oil.
Pinch of sugar
3 dessert spoons of pine nuts, lightly grilled.
3 dessert spoons parmesan, grated.
Salt & pepper.
A squeeze of lemon juice.
To make the aubergine caviar
Pre-heat the oven to 2100C.
Cut the two aubergines in half, lengthways, score the flesh with a knife, about 1cm deep in a criss-cross fashion and sprinkle generously with salt. This process will draw out the excess moisture and bitterness from the aubergine. Set aside for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, sweat the onion with 1 clove of sliced garlic and a good pinch of salt over a medium heat. Once translucent add the tomatoes and cook slowly until a rich tomato compote is achieved. Chop 2 or 3 basil leaves, add to the tomato. Adjust the seasoning – sometimes a pinch of sugar is needed to cut the acidity of the tomato.
Rinse the aubergines well under running water and pat dry. Drizzle the surface of each half with olive oil and stud with a couple of slices of garlic and season with pepper. Sandwich the halves together again and wrap the two re-formed aubergines in tin foil and bake in the oven for half an hour. Remove, allow to cool and scoop out the wet, pulpy flesh. Add it to the pan with the tomatoes and gently cook again over a medium heat until any excess “water” has gone. The resulting “aubergine caviar” should neither ooze liquid nor be too pasty when finished. Check the seasoning and reserve warm.
To make the pesto
In a pestle and mortar grind the garlic clove with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the pine nuts and crush. Add the basil leaves and then the olive oil slowly until and oily paste has formed. Stir in the parmesan and add the lemon juice. Check the seasoning.
Flour the skin side of the red mullet fillets lightly and season the flesh side with salt and pepper. Place a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat and when hot add a splash of olive oil. Place the red mullet fillets, skin side down, in the pan and fry for two minutes. Turn and finish the cooking, off the heat, for a further two minutes.
Remove the fish from the pan and spread a spoonful of pesto over each fillet.
Place a ¼ of the aubergine caviar onto each plate and set atop a fillet of red mullet. “Dot” the pesto with some of the oil from the surface of the pesto.
1 Saddle of lamb, off the bone.
50 ml reduced lamb stock.
For the herb crust:
100g fresh bread crumbs
100g butter, melted
1 small egg
1 tbspn ground parmesan
1 tbspn finely chopped parsley, rosemary and thyme
1 clove of minced garlic
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
12 Small waxy potatoes
20 shallots, thinly sliced.
100 ml double cream
3 cooked artichoke hearts cut into four
12 cloves of garlic in the skin
250g fresh spinach
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
50 ml olive oil
2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled de-seeded and diced
The day before:
Combine the dry ingredients of the herb crust in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Gradually add the melted butter and finally, the egg.
Roll this paste out between two sheets of grease proof paper with a rolling pin until 2mm thick and place in the fridge to chill and set.
Get the butcher to take the saddle of lamb off the bone (reserving the two small fillets) and to remove the outer husk of skin. Lay the whole saddle out on a chopping board in front of you with the two “loins” of meat running parallel away from you. Trim off all the fatty meat either side of the two loins leaving you a rectangular piece about 8” X 6”; insert the two fillets between the two loins. Leave the meat to sit in this form overnight.
On the day:
Pre-heat the oven to 2200 C.
To make the shallot purée, sweat the shallots in 50g of the butter with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Once softened, add the cream, bring to the boil and purée in a blender. Pass through a fine sieve and keep warm. Place the garlic with 25g of butter and the thyme in the oven until soft, about 15-20 mins.
To cook the potatoes, trim the ends off each potato and cut in half. Season and cook slowly in butter until golden each side.
About an hour before you wish to eat season the lamb on both the fat and meat sides and slowly brown the fat sides in a heavy based pan. Baste the meat with the rendered fat and roast in the oven for about 15-20 mins – 15 mins for rare and 20 mins for medium. Remove from the oven and turn on the grill.
Take the herb crust out of the fridge, cut out a rectangle to fit the lamb. Peel off one layer of grease proof and place the crust over the lamb. Peel off the second layer of grease proof and leave to melt into the lamb. Place under the grill and brown.
Leave the lamb to rest for 20 mins. During this time cook the spinach in the remaining butter with pepper and salt and drain well. Sauté the artichokes in half of the olive oil.
Just prior to serving make the sauce. Bring the lamb stock to the boil, add rosemary and the remaining olive oil and the diced tomato
Serve one thick slice of lamb to each guest, garnish each plate with the spinach, roasted garlics, sautéed artichokes and shallot Purée.
Any roasted/sautéed potato would suit this dish.
6 Chicken thighs (free range)
12 peeled Belle de Fontanay potatoes
13 cloves of garlic, skin on and 2 cloves, peeled
14 peeled shallots, 2 of them finely sliced
100ml brown chicken stock
250g unsalted butter
3 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon of chopped parsley
1 tomato, blanched, peeled, de-seeded and diced
200g leaf spinach.
3 tbsps duck fat
Pre-heat the oven to 3750C
Put a heavy based oven proof pan over a high heat until hot, add 1/3 the duck fat and then the potatoes. Sauté until golden, add 50g of butter, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Toss every 5 minutes. Repeat the process with 12 of the shallots.
After 15 minutes the potatoes and shallots should be a lovely rich golden colour. At this point add a peeled clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme to each pan, toss gently and leave to rest in the butter.
Place 50g of butter in another small oven proof pan, melt over a gentle heat, toss the garlic cloves in it and roast in the oven for 15 minutes until soft.
Next, place a heavy based sauté pan over a medium heat, add the remaining duck fat, season the chicken and sauté until golden, skin side down. Turn the drumsticks to attain an even colour. Once golden remove from the pan, add the morels, the remaining clove of garlic, the thyme and 50g of butter to the pan and gently fry the mushrooms. After 2 minutes add the sliced shallots and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the stock and replace the chicken, meat side down and cook in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning of the resulting mushroom sauce and add the tomato and parsley.
During this time cook the spinach gently in the remaining butter and drain. Reserve warm.
Remove the thigh bone from the chicken and cut each thigh in half.
Split the spinach between four large bowl plates. In a circle, on the spinach place 3 pieces of chicken thigh, 3 potatoes, 3 shallots and 3 cloves of garlic. Place the drumstick in the middle and spoon over the mushroom mixture.