NOTHING is quite as bracing as a meeting with Clarissa Dickson Wright.

Formerly one half of the Two Fat Ladies, the largerthan- life cook loves hunting, fresh meat from the butcher and chewing the fat.

But it’s a while since you last saw her on television.

She said: “Blair was trying to ban everything I stood for... and Alistair Campbell ran the BBC.”

While she’s meeting to talk about her new one pot cookbook, Potty (Hodder, £20), the cook is equally as excited about becoming flavour of the month again.

Since New Labour’s exit, Dickson Wright says her agent has been inundated with offers and she’s just back from a bout of filming.

She said: “I always said that when there was a change of government I’d be back on television. The old lot hated Clarissa And The Countryman (her second BBC series). I was making television about all the things Blair was trying to ban and get rid of – like farming.”

While the former PM might disagree with her interpretation of history, it’s a fact that Dickson Wright marched with the Countryside Alliance against the last government’s controversial Hunting Act and has always been keen to voice her disapproval over any perceived lack of support for British food and agriculture.

For the last few years, the aristocratic cook and former alcoholic (who managed to drink her way through a £2.8 million fortune) says her professional life has revolved around writing books.

She said: “When Hodder approached me with this idea, I said, ‘Oh God, no’ because, having been a cookery book seller for 20 years, I knew that one pot cookbooks are always rather dreary.”

Still, she likes a challenge and soon began experimenting with the idea.

Dickson Wright said: “There are lots of variants on what constitutes a pot. I remembered the eggs and bacon in a tin mug idea from when I was rector at the University of Aberdeen and was rustling up food for the students.

“One of the recipes in Potty is called primordial soup. I was sitting next to a biologist who worked at the Natural History Museum. We were discussing where life came from and she said she thought it came from primordial soup. I thought it was a great idea for a recipe and created a Japanese-type soup filled with seaweed, so it looked like the beginnings of life.”

She describes her style of cooking as very simple. “It’s all about the quality of ingredients.

While your food will be 10 times better if you’ve got a good fishmonger and a good butcher, if you get the flavours right it will still be good.”

● Clarissa Dickson Wright will be back on TV in January with The Great British Food Revival on BBC2.



1.5kg chicken, with the flesh cut off the bone and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces
2 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper
8 tbsp olive oil
2 preserved lemons, cut into quarters and the pulp removed
700g peas, fresh or frozen
3tbsp butter


Put your chicken pieces in a bowl and add the chopped onions, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Add the olive oil, mix everything well and marinate for at least two hours or overnight.

When you are ready to cook, transfer everything to your tagine or casserole, add just enough water to cover the meat, and simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes. Add the preserved lemon peel, the peas and butter and cook for another 15 minutes.

This dish should be served with couscous, which simply needs to be put in a bowl and covered with boiling water, according to the instructions on the packet.