Mary Berry’s comfort food secrets

As the long summer evenings make way for cosy nights in, we’re changing what we eat – and Mary Berry has some great ideas to make the transition easy and delicious.

We’re dusting off the roasting tins and casserole pots to hunker down with warming dishes full of root veg and succulent meats, and Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts.

We spoke to Mary about the series and what she loves about comfort food.

Why comfort food?

“It’s great food to come home to, lovely and warming”, says Mary, when asked what comfort food means to her. We’re chatting on the day Storm Francis has arrived and, with wind swirling outside, it very much feels like casserole weather. Something Mary agrees with: “We’ve had some wonderful sunny weather all through and now it’s beginning to get chilly and it’s pouring with rain outside. It’s time for soup and warming foods. I think it becomes natural to think about comfort food as soon as the weather chills and the nights become darker.”

Mary Berry’s favourite comfort food

“I love a good slow roast of maybe pork or lamb and all the trimmings, I think that certainly makes you feel glowing.” So what do the trimmings entail? “We used to always have roast potatoes, but now we have other roast veg, like beetroot and sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes and we’re always adding things. You know, 60 years ago, when I was setting out, you didn’t have things like butternut squash or kale – though I’m not very keen on kale – but there are many more vegetables and they are all very plentiful. I think of root vegetables in the autumn, which are perfect for comfort food.”

Many people’s favourite comfort food is based on what they ate as a child. The same applies to Mary’s beloved roasts. “We used to have a roast on Sunday and then the meat was used in different ways throughout the week. But now when we have a roast, it’s usually smaller and we have it all on Sunday, and I don’t do something with it on Monday.”

Just as roast trimmings have moved on over time, so has the roast itself. “A slow roast has changed our lives in as much as, if family come half an hour or an hour late, it’s perfectly all right because it’s beautifully tender and keeps very well.”

What Mary cooks on the show

Mary spent a lot of time thinking about what she wanted to serve up on Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts, and how some recipes might be updated – as our eating and cooking habits having changed. “So if I make a casserole,  adding a bit less meat and more vegetables and doing things that were a bit quicker. And nearly all of the dishes I wanted to be able to be prepared ahead, because that’s how life is.

“When people come home from work, they want something quick but don’t necessarily want to do a stir-fry. They want to come in and have something they started off the day before, or perhaps something you can pop in the freezer and have half tonight and freeze the other half.

“I’ve got lots of favourites. I’ve done a lot of all-in-one dishes that you put in a roasting tin and it saves on the washing up!”