Donal Skehan on disliking liquorice, toasting marshmallows and his mother's spaghetti bolognese

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Donal Skehan On Disliking Liquorice, Toasting Marshmallows And His Mother's Spaghetti Bolognese Donal Skehan On Disliking Liquorice, Toasting Marshmallows And His Mother's Spaghetti Bolognese
Skehan has recently returned to Dublin after a stint in LA. Photo: PA Images
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Ella Walker, PA

Food writer and TV presenter Donal Skehan’s latest cookbook, Everyday Cook, captures the meals he whips up for his family on a weekly basis, but what’s in his store cupboard? How does he cure a hangover? And what can he absolutely not stand eating?

Your death row meal would be… “I have always been in love with Asian flavours and particularly Vietnamese flavours. There was this one dish we had on a roadside beside the lake in Hanoi – it was like a spiced beef jerky salad, and it was phenomenal. It was just served on a little plastic plate, we were sitting on a stool, so if I could go back to that little moment, that would be the thing I would eat.”

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You still can’t cook… “There’s a lot of the faffy chef things I don’t have patience for. I like things to move quickly. Things like trussing turkeys I don’t have time for – I’m really good at tying porchetta, but when it comes to a turkey, I feel like I’m in a wrestling match.”

Your store cupboard essentials are… “Really good dried pasta and tins of the very best tomatoes – my go-to at the moment is little tins of cherry tomatoes, which I’m very excited about – and probably chilli flakes.”

Late at night, your snack of choice is always… “Since I was 12 years of age, every time I see a packet of marshmallows in the house, [I put them on] on a fork, toast it over the gas burner, and then you slowly char up the outside. You can remove the outer skin of the marshmallow, and you squish it up, eat that bit, stick it [the middle] back on. And probably a good cheese toastie, if I have some good cheese in the fridge and some nice sourdough bread – can’t go too far wrong.”

Your signature dish is… “Really good hearty comfort foods. I have a really great chicken cobbler dish, a really good shepherd’s pie, lasagne. I’d love to say I have a signature fancy dish, but they tend to be the classic comfort food dishes.”

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You like your eggs… “Poached.”

The defining dinner of your childhood has to be… “Spaghetti bolognese. We slag [off] my mum about it, and now I feel so bad, because I know these pressures. The idea of cooking spaghetti was such a novelty thing in the Eighties, but it was such a standard thing by the Nineties, that it was part of our everyday weeknight meals. So, the big joke in our family was to never tell my mum that we really liked a dish, because we’d get it three times throughout the week.”

What did you have for dinner last night? “Sushi!”

Your takeout of choice is… “We had an amazing Sichuan restaurant that was close to our house in LA, and it was phenomenal. It was so fiery and numbing, it’s such a different experience. I miss Sichuan food the most.”

Your cocktail of choice at the moment is… “I have a tradition of a new cocktail every year – I love my cocktails, and the year before last it was a pisco sour. This year, it’s been the year of negroni.”

Your hangover cure is… “I don’t go for the big fatty carbs out of guilt, I probably go more towards a green juice or a smoothie, or something that makes me feel a bit virtuous the next day. If I’m really hanging, it’s probably a really good bacon sandwich on white bread.”

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And you dislike eating… “Liquorice. My wife is Swedish, and they have not only liquorice, but salted liquorice, which is vile. They put them in pick-and-mix bags in Sweden.”

(Donal Skehan/PA)

Everyday Cook by Donal Skehan, published by Hodder & Stoughton. Available now.

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