It’s very good. Buy it.
I had used it a bit, mostly for chicken thigh recipes because I share Diana Henry’s enthusiasm for them (they get a whole chapter) and the simple suppers, but yesterday I needed something a bit more. It was my birthday and the original plan was to go to mum’s, but she had to cancel last minute. The whole point of ‘From the Oven to the Table’ is that it’s simple dishes that more or less look after themselves - which is really what you want when you’re unexpectedly cooking dinner for everyone on a day you had earmarked for not slaving over a hot stove.
The Weekends, High days and Holidays chapter came through for me with Slow Cooked Leg Of Lamb With Sherry and Autumn Vegetables. It was very little effort and completely delicious. Had I wanted to make a cake there’s a Chocolate and Red Wine Cake recipe that is on my to do list, but the lamb sounded rich enough to make chocolate cake seem too much for this occasion.
All of Diana Henry’s books are good, ‘Salt, Sugar, Smoke’ (the preserving one) is probably my favourite and ‘Roast Figs, Sugar Snow’ is a brilliant wintery themed book from her back list if you’re relatively new to her writing. Her style is big on flavour, low on fuss, and a whole world of different influences - it’s a combination I find irresistible.
What wine to cook with is something I used to get asked about a lot, and there’s one simple rule. Always use something you would be happy to drink. I’ll admit that’s easier said then done with the Amontillado sherry I needed for the lamb. There was nowhere near me that sold a decent selection so I ended up with Sainsbury’s own label. The wine snob in me would have preferred something better to drink*, but it was decent to cook with and that’s what I’ll use the rest for.
If you’re buying wine for something like a beef bourguignon, or any other regional dish, it helps to know the grape associated with the local wine. In this case it would be Pinot Noir, and as even the most basic Red Burgundy costs quite a bit it makes much more sense to go for a decent, but much cheaper Romanian Pinot as an alternative. For that chocolate cake I’ll definitely be using a good value (around the £7-£8 mark) Australian Cabernet.
It’s normally possible to find a really decent Portuguese red for around £6-£7 which makes for great everyday drinking as well as cooking. It also genuinely makes sense to keep a wine rack full of wine (not next to a heater, an oven, on top of a fridge, or in direct sun) with a mix of good, better, and best wines on it. Remember which is which though.
Never, ever, be tempted to cook with corked wine, or something that’s been hanging around and has oxidised beyond good drinking - it will spoil your dinner.
*Sherry is something I love, but because it doesn’t keep well I’m much more interested in quality than quantity and much more fussy about it then wine. There’s nothing wrong with Sainsbury’s own label, it’s just not that exciting.