In Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, surrounded by miles of unspoiled and glorious countryside, sits the beautiful country house hotel Northcote.
Its Michelin starred restaurant, headed up by chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen, has long been known for its adventurous menus using seasonal ingredients.
And now, Northcote has launched a new gourmet meal kit, so you can enjoy Lisa’s dishes in the comfort of your own home.
It’s available for nationwide delivery as well as collection from the restaurant.
So what do you get in the box, and how easy is it? We tried one to find out.
The Autumn Gourmet Box, offering four courses and priced at £85, also includes the signature Northcote bread and six irresistible hand-crafted chocolates, designed to serve two.
The menu includes Northcote’s cheese loaf and butter, followed by two appetisers: North Sea cod with curry, pomegranate and almond and a coriander oil. and caramelised celeriac consommé with tiny ravioli, celeriac pearls and tarragon.
For the main course, there’s truffle and brioche stuffed roast chicken, served with leg bolognese, wild mushrooms and Lyonnaise potato, and then pudding: an orchard apple ‘cheesecake’ and salted caramel sauce.
The dishes have been lovingly prepared by Michelin starred chef Lisa and her team, complete with simple instructions for diners to simply finish them off at home.
The ingredients arrive chilled using environmentally-friendly Woolcool products, with all the components for each dish clearly labelled, and it all keeps for up to 48 hours.
We start with the chicken, since that takes the longest to cook – the crown needs cooking for around 1 hour 20 mins at 120, before resting.
Meanwhile, we make a start on the bread, which just needs warming through, and butter, which needs to come to room temperature.
If you’ve ever been to Northcote, you’ll already know how great chef Lisa’s cheese bread is – and the good news is, it’s just as good at home.
The mini loaf is a generous portion, too, enough for three fat slices each.
Onto appetisers, and the fish course is really easy to prepare, but looks and tastes stunning.
You simply need to place the pre-cut cod fillets on the parchment paper provided, drizzle with olive oil, then bake on a tray in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
Then you heat the curry sauce in a pan, divide it between two bowls, scatter the pomegranate and toasted almonds, which come in individual tubs, drizzle it with coriander oil, then place the baked cod on top.
It looks pretty as a picture, dotted with the jewel-like pomegranate seeds and deep emerald green oil.
The fish is beautifully delicate, and the sauce expertly spiced and aromatic. It’s a knockout.
The caramelised celeriac consommé is even easier – just a case of heating up the pouches containing the liquid, ravioli and celeriac pearls all together in a pan and then drizzling with olive oil and a scatter of fresh tarragon.
But again, it really delivers. The consommé is perfectly clear and richly flavoured, in a way you’d never be able to get it if you made it yourself from scratch.
The tiny ravioli and pearls of celeriac add texture and complexity, while the tarragon brings a fragrant touch of anise-like flavour.
Soon it’s time for the chicken, which is the only thing requiring any real cooking. A most welcome side effect is the scent of truffle wafting through the kitchen.
The accompanying leg bolognese just needs heating in a pan, while the Lyonnaise potatoes briefly go in the oven with the chicken.
Then it’s just an assembly job, involving dividing the bolognese between two plates and topping with the potato and the chicken, which needs carving from the crown and seasoning with salt.
It’s a thoroughly grown up dish. The potatoes are gloriously buttery, and the truffle stuffed under the crisp chicken skin adds a touch of luxury, while the bolognese made from the leg meat is outrageously rich and intensely savoury.
There’s a lot of chicken, too. Far too much for two people, really – it could easily serve four.
What it does mean, however, is the most delicious leftovers, as it’s just as good cold the next day.
The pudding is the easiest dish of the lot, but it’s an absolute showstopper, the cheesecake formed like a beautiful apple with a crisp shell and soft creamy middle.
It’s served with salted caramel sauce, which can be at room temperature or gently warmed if you prefer.
And for a proper restaurant touch, bring out the six hand-crafted chocolates with a coffee.
We loved the experience from start to finish. It really is like having the most incredible Michelin starred meal in your own kitchen.
Minimal effort, for maximum reward. This is one of our favourite meal kits yet.
Northcote’s Autumn Gourmet Box is priced at £85 for two. Collection slots are limited to a total of 40 and are available on Fridays. The gourmet boxes are also available for home delivery nationwide. The next release will be noon on Tuesday. You can find out more and order here.