Jill Duplex's Aldi Challenge - Part 1

Wednesday 3/11/2004

Back to noshblog site (click here)

Diary and Notes

Some time ago, I read an article in The Times which I think was written by Jill Duplex where she describes sitting around with her Notting Hill friends, drinking wine and talking about how ghastly those Aldi supermarkets are and that no matter how good a cook you were, it would be impossible to make anything presentable with ingredients bought solely from there. Now to her credit, she never went so far as to comment on the foul stench of unemployment, or the feeling of Soviet bread line desperation that hung, like mustard gas, stifling the brain and burning the eyes - but that was definitely the sub-text. Outwardly the article seemed to be introducing shopping at Aldi as a challenge which Jill was going to rise to - demonstrating not only her greatness as a chef, but also her willinginess to break through the class barrier and just for a moment live like the common man. It was not to be. Jill was unable to rise to the challenge and cooked something with crabs or oysters or bed-bugs instead.

I however, although a complete food snob in many respects, have often shopped at Aldi. I am no more than a link in the chain of the great unwashed and even though I am no longer a statistic on a government unemployment list, I claim that some of Aldi's products are not only cheaper, but better than those at the more 'normal' supermarkets. Their beer is superb, you can get excellent pasta, they do a good range in real parmesan cheese, they have a selection of fine german hams, the meat is reasonably priced and no different to any other supermarket and if you are having a party and need a load of cheap spirits to whack out a punch, there's nowehere better (except possibly Lidl). Now they don't sell Bombay Sapphire gin and Stolichnya vodka, but we all know that people only ever buy one bottle and then top it up with Sainsbury's own label anyway, so what's the problem? Anyway, today I took on the challenge. Everything I cooked today, (except for the black pepper) I bought at Aldi. Not only that, but to make things even fairer, I only bought things I knew I could also buy at Aldi in Britain (so the canned chanterelle mushrooms were not allowed). I didn't spend a great deal of cash and also bought two bottles of wine, the most expensive (which was the most expensive bottle they had) was 3 Euros. An Italian Pinot Grigio which went down a treat with my very tasty chicken and pasta dinner.

I should point out that this was a great dinner and I'd happily serve it to Jill if she came over for a beer one evening.


  • Chicken breast in schinken ham,
  • Spaghetti with bacon, capers and olives.

  • Pinot Grigio.


  • Chicken: Chicken breast, thinly sliced German schinken ham, olive oil, black pepper, butter, dash of white wine.
  • Spaghetti: Spaghetti, olive oil, onions, bacon, capers, olives, garlic, black pepper, mixed herbs, white wine, parmesan cheese.


  • Chicken: Lay a few slices of Aldi schinken on a board and roll the Aldi chicken tightly in the schinken. Heat some Aldi olive oil in a pan and sear the chicken all over, then turn down the heat, add a dash of Aldi wine and put the lid on and leave to cook for a quater of an hour. When cooked, take the chicken out, add a dash more wine and some butter and black pepper, mix and pour the sauce over the chicken. Easy and delicious.
  • Spaghetti: Make sure when you cook the spaghetti the water is boiling before you put in the pasta. Keep the water bubbling hard and don't overcook. For the sauce, gently fry the finely choppen onion, bacon and garlic in olive oil. Add some chopped Aldi capers, a few sliced Aldi olives, some Aldi mixed herbs, pepper and a dash of wine. Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce and serve covered in freshly grated Aldi parmesan.

    Thanks Jill.