In Search of Perfection - Reinventing Kitchen Classics

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 April, 2011, 12:00am


In Search of Perfection - Reinventing Kitchen Classics
By Heston Blumenthal

Heston Blumenthal is not a chef who likes to keep things simple. The brains behind The Fat Duck, an innovative restaurant in Britain, he's known for reinterpreting basics such as bread and butter and bacon and eggs - which he makes into ice creams.

In this book, Blumenthal tries to make the ultimate roast chicken and potatoes, pizza, bangers and mash, spaghetti bolognaise, fish and chips, black forest gateau, treacle tart and ice cream. But, first, he needs to figure out what the 'ultimate' is. His roast chicken must be glisteningly juicy and golden brown, and the potatoes have a fluffy centre and a crust with a delicate crunch. He tries all sorts of British chickens 'because it's important to seek out and support local producers', but also goes to France to try the legendary poulet de Bresse, which are reared under strict appellation d'origine contr?l?e guidelines. He goes to just as much trouble to find the right potato.

His dishes can be extremely difficult to make - spaghetti bolognaise must have boned and minced oxtail, pork shoulder in 1cm cubes and tomato compote that includes star anise, cloves, Thai fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce. A friend who made this said it was, indeed, the ultimate bolognaise, but that its preparation was arduous. (He said a recipe by Italian Marcella Hazan was also very good - and a lot easier.)

We can, though, incorporate some of Blumenthal's cooking tips into our cooking. When I make Hazan's bolognaise sauce, I now add a small glug of Thai fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce. They add a rich umami flavour.