Heston Blumenthal’s shows you the right way to cook a steak (and the wrong way to serve it) in his first proper recipe for Waitrose’s advertising campaign.
There was a great deal of fanfare, and a little bit of confusion, when Waitrose announced their new celebrity chef promotion, partnering Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal. One says you can make a Shepherds pie using discs of frozen mash. The other would have you using a temperature probe to keep the water at a constant 70 ˚C just for the spuds. They couldn’t be more opposite.
Whatever your choice of supermarket one thing we could all look forward to was Waitrose’s promise of a weekly, seasonal recipe from two top food personalities. Aside from a garlicky dip Blumenthal has made us wait SIX full weeks for his first proper recipe. But, with some of my favourite ingredients like good steak, parmesan and rocket leaves, Heston’s Tagliata recipe promised to be worth the wait.
This actually seems unnervingly simple for a Heston Blumenthal recipe. One thing you’ll notice about all of his Waitrose dishes is that they each encourage us to try out a particular technique.
For this we’re getting the pan excruciatingly hot and flipping our steak every 15 seconds. Heston likes you to leave your pan on the hob for a full 10 minutes before you let your steaks anywhere near it -this isn’t a recipe for people watching their energy bills and carbon footprint! (But then if you really cared about your carbon footprint you wouldn’t be eating red meat in the first place).
The other suggestion is the 15 second flipping, originally from Alan McGee’s book, On Food & Cooking. The idea behind this is that the meat cooks evenly on both sides. Otherwise if you cooked 3 minutes one side, then flipped over, it’d be overcooked on one side, underdone on the second side.
This mega-hot pan may be perfect for your steak, but it’s a nightmare for the air in your kitchen. Maybe I need to look at cooking oil smoke-points again, but the super-hot pan filled the kitchen (then the entire house) with thick smoke in mere seconds. John Torode says this is normal. Open lots of windows and put any guests in the garden.
The constant flipping means your steaks cook a little bit, then cool down as they’re flipped, so it’ll take a bit longer than your usual method. You’ll feel like a robot as you stand staring at he clock, turning your steaks at the appointed second. Not fun if any of you spend all day working a factory production line.
While the steaks are resting it’s on to the next step, effectively a warm salad dressing. It uses a lot of olive oil.
Rolling the lemon peel sounds like it shouldn’t work but does; you’ll literally smell the oils as they start to release. The scent of fresh lemon even helps improve the smoke-filled air a bit.
Waiting until the pan is on a low heat prevents the herbs, garlic and lemon from burning. The smell is fantastic. Time to throw in the resting juices. At least it should make the sauce a lot more meaty and potent.
Half the customer responses on Waitrose’s website say the same thing, the plate is literally swimming in oil. Much as I love Heston I’m forced to agree with the comments-page critics -the amount of dressing ruined the dish. Without a substantial carb to soak it up (think dry-ish mash or a bowlful of pasta) the sheer quantity overwhelms everything else on the plate.
Maybe with a bit of restraint and just *drizzling* that dressing over it’d be different. This recipe is for 4 people, you get at least two tablespoons of oil in each serving. A full 30ml for each person! Plus steak grease. The dressing is a balancing act too, use too much lemon and the flavour overpowers everything else.
The steak is nicely done though, so you’ll either be shedding tears after ruining a lovely piece of meat with this recipe or crying from the thick smoke still filling the air. Either way this is an eye-watering tragedy.
Did you try it, or were you one of the people reviewing it on the Waitrose message board? Please put your comments on this recipe below.
UPDATE: This recipe was also released as part of 2012 Channel 4 series “How to Cook Like Heston”