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Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals: Is it really possible?

Fat Mum Slim /

With my personal-chef away from the kitchen on other duties {read: work} I’ve had to do dinners for the past few months. Not only dinners, but meal planning, shopping and my most dreaded task… bringing the shopping in from the car with a toddler in tow {hello online shopping!}. Whine over.

The truth is, I love to cook. I prefer to bake, but I do like to cook… and I have a vast collection of cookbooks to show for it. Jamie Oliver is one of my favourites. I like him, because I respect him. I like what he’s doing. He could bask in his millions and forget about the rest of the world, but instead he risks annoying his wife by working on making the world a healthier place.

There’s been quite a handful of complaints that Jamie’s newest set of recipes, Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals, take up to 1.5 hours to make. I thought I’d put it to the test and see if I could make a meal in just 30 minutes from his book.

I picked the super-fast beef hash with three sides, including jacket potatoes, goddess salad and lovely butter beans & bacon. Thankfully Hubby was home for the weekend, so I set off for a facial whilst he hit the shops with a list of ingredients. Joy.

All afternoon he kept saying to me, you better get started on that dinner… it’s going to take a while. My response was a constant, “It’s thirty minutes babe. It’s all sorted.”

So just before our tummies started to grumble, I set the timer {an old-fashioned one and my trusty, accurate iPhone stopwatch} and got ready to roll.

Before I hit start, I turned on the grill, and two hotplates, put the ingredients on the bench, as well as the serving dishes.


And I got started. The potatoes went into the microwave for 16 minutes. The beef mince hit the pan with some thyme, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil.

Carrots, celery, onion and garlic got chopped in the blitzer. They were meant to be sliced in a food processor, but mine doesn’t have the feature… so chopping it was. They were added to the browned mince along with some Worcestershire sauce {6 tablespoons to be exact}.

Bacon was sliced {then sauteed}, tomato was diced and then along with butter beans they all hit the pan to reduce*. Parsley was then added. By this time I was in a fluster with just ten minutes to go, so I chopped that parsley very badly. Note the stalk in the pan. Remove that later.

Potatoes were removed from the microwave, a cross put in all of them, and then place under the grill to brown. I made up a quick salad of lettuce, watercress and avocado, topped with green goddess dressing {avocado, sour cream, lemon, olive oil and seasoning all blitzed in a food processor}.

And with 1 minute and 24 seconds to spare… we hit the table. I made it!

It was delicious. I couldn’t eat it all. The beans were my favourite. I’ll be making them again. Actually I’d make the whole dish again.

We were so hot after the manic dinner making session that we hit the beach afterwards for a dip and some late afternoon air.

Cookbook review: ♥♥♥♥♥ {4 out of 5}: It’s a cookbook that will definitely get dirty over the years from overuse. The only downfall is that it’s not so clear to read if you want to make just one element of the dishes and not the whole meal.

I’ll test out some other 30 minute meals over the coming weeks and hopefully continue to beat the clock.

Who is your favourite celebrity chef? Which recipes do you like best?

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* Jamie says to throw the whole tin of butter beans in, including the juice. We thought that was icky, so I drained them and added some chicken stock instead.

  • Cat

    We LOVE Jamie at ours and have every cookbook of his. The only one I don't like is the Ministry of Food which to me, is dumbed down a little too much though is one I'd buy for a nephew moving out of home on his own. I've had great success with the 30 minute meals from the new book. I wholly recommend the jerk chicken too. We also love Nigella 'round these parts and Donna Hay is an almost never fail. In fact, we have a huge cookbook selection and use most of them.

  • Deb

    how many points?

    :))

    I need some inspiration in the kitchen. maybe i'll get this book.

  • We've been avidly watching the 30 minute cooking shows and have been inspired by so many (am about to attempt my second recipe from the show this week). I took the plunge and made the pumpkin (squash) and cauliflower curry, with naan, side dishes – the lot. Achieved it all in 28 minutes… I think these are superb and honestly for the ones I've seen, if you're taking 1.5 hours to complete, you're not really following what he says. Jamie is fantastic, I love his down-to-earth approach and the fact he “cheats” and uses store-bought produce – just like real people. I'm loving this show (and soon to be purchased book).

  • Anonymous

    I have made many of these – fabulous. OK, so on the first attempt they may take a little longer (say 5-10 minutes) but second time around when you know what you're doing I'd say 30 minutes is pretty accurate. And how good is that? Recently made the jerk chicken for a 4friends we were away with – the next day both couples went and bought the book!

  • The Dragon

    Okay I just tried this – admittedly I did not have all the ingredients ready but they were all close and not difficult to find. The potatoes overcooked in the microwave – even tho they were only in for 10 mins, so they were chucked. Decided not to do the salad, steaming some veges instead. Also did not have any beans so used lentils instead – and so far its been 55 mins, and the beans/tomatos are still reducing. Next time I will try it with everything prepped – but the cooking times seem a bit out of synch to me

    • Oh that’s a shame. I think mine didn’t reduce down to a thick sauce, but I used the chicken stock. I hope you enjoyed the flavours.

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