Right at the start I am going to declare that I like Ainsley, I know many people think he is a ridiculous fool and shouldn’t be given the time of day but I aint one of them. Once upon a time I went on Ready Steady Cook and he was lovely, friendly, welcoming and warm, no ego and nothing to prove.
Wikipedia reliably informs me that he has recently conquered America, appeared in the Rocky Horror Show, and in the mid 90s he even released a hit record. Thankfully it also mentions that he has spent some time working as a chef as well as presenting food tv programmes so the fact he has a food range isn’t that odd.
What is odd however is his cous cous, or at least the roasted vegetable cous cous that I tried. The packet makes many claims, it is less than 2% fat, it is vegetarian, it has no artificial colours or preservatives. This last claim is the one I find most peculiar, never before have I bought a product that contains “no artificial colours or preservatives” yet tastes so fake and manufactured that it is like the cous cous equivalent of a pot noodle.
It is however very easy to make it absorbs boiling water for 5 minutes then gets fluffed with a fork. You can also “fork through a knob of butter or drizzle over a little olive oil” I tried forking through a knob of butter but the cous cous wasn’t hot enough after spending 5 minutes absorbing so it congealed a bit and I had to mash the butter in which was a bit grim. When all that was done it looked OK – very much like cous cous in a bowl in fact.
Apparently the cous cous is perfect with chicken, noting this I ate it with lamb as I had some left over from a New Years Eve roast and that combo worked out fine for me. The cous cous tasted very sweet from the tomato and red pepper and according to the ingredients there was also some vegetable powder, dried onion, dried green pepper and garlic powder in there and all I can deduce from that lot is that rehydrated vegetables taste of plastic. This was weird stuff, I certainly would not buy it again but to be fair cous cous is a base for a dish it is not meant to be the main event and when eaten with the meat it became palatable so I won’t write it off altogether and Ainsley is a nice man after all.
Ainsley Harriott Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous 90p for 100g (serves 2)