After seeing Heston’s Fantastical Food Full English Breakfast we track down his Heston’s Perfect Full English Breakfast recipe.
What do you guys do on the internet? Probably Facebook or something. The less well-adjusted of us spend our online-time tracking down every last one of Heston’s articles. Which is how we found Heston’s Perfect Full English Breakfast Recipe from a series he did for GQ.
Here’s our chance to kill 3 birds with one post. We can pay homage to Heston’s Big Breakfast, the first episode of Heston’s Fantastical Feasts, and also test one of his more obscure recipes at the same time. Thirdly, as seems mandatory for our posts these days, there’s another f*@&ing Waitrose connection: we’re using Heston’s Syrup and Stout Streaky Bacon & Vanilla Back Bacon to review as well.
There’re only a handful of components to Heston’s Perfect Breakfast recipe, with each element cooked fairly simply. Tomatoes go on first, they’re probably the most complicated.
Instructions don’t specify what kind of heat to use, but medium gave us a pleasingly soft texture without burning them onto the bottom of the pan. Remember to fish the garlic out, and don’t go so heavy on the basil like we did. These extra flavours did make it hard to detect the tomatoey boost from adding the stalk.
The rest of the recipe is so simple even a moron, or Nigella, could do it. Thankfully there’s no “pipetting” of beurre noisette like his revised Olympic Breakfast for Little Chef. Grilling half the ingredients is easy enough, though we were surprised there’s no request for thyme to go with the mushrooms. Add a few picked leaves if you have some handy.
We’ve been practitioners of the lid-on fried egg technique for years, and are huge fans. (So is the Guardian’s perfection-hunter Felicity Cloake). This is certainly better than the claggy results of Jamie’s horrendous method; dropping them into a solid centimetre of olive oil.
You might need to lift the lid to check how your eggs are doing (especially if your lid isn’t see-through). This will let out the precious steam that’s cooking the eggs. If this happens just slosh in a spoonful of water from the kettle to replace the lost vapour.
Simple preparation isn’t what you expect from Heston. I’d’ve thought he’d at least want us to blanch and skin the tomatoes. Delicious pizza-y compote aside there’s nothing revolutionary here, and it’s quite a manageable portion size.
If you think a full English breakfast needs to be a bit more gluttonous then we’d suggest adding sausages to an 80°C oven when the tomatoes go on. And grill slices of black pudding alongside the bacon too. Beans too, if that’s your thing.
As for Heston’s breakfast recipe, I’ve seen all of these simple techniques before from other chefs – though that doesn’t make them any less valid. It’s nice not to have to deploy a soda siphon or temperature probe while you’re still in your dressing gown.
And the Bacon?
Quality-wise it’s very good. There’s none of that white smegma after cooking. Nor the shrinkage you get from measly, water-injected supermarket offerings.
The streaky syrup & stout rashers are thick and meaty, lean enough not to make you feel too guilty about eating them. The added flavour gives them a balanced boost of sweetness and savouriness equally.
Vanilla bacon, on the other hand, has a pleasant creaminess that adds a mellow, comforting character. The strong flavour of brown sugar from the cure is equally important.
We didn’t pick up the ketchup infused variety because, well, why would you have bacon without ketchup in the first place?
Fun, but if it’s a luxury bacon buttie you’re after you’d be better off saving a few pence and buying 8 rashers of your supermarket’s poshest brand.
Like Heston’s bangers, these are best as one-time novelties. Neither is worth having more than once.
And the Eggs…
At the start of his GQ article Heston mentions getting eggs from his own chickens. I couldn’t pass up the chance to mention my friend Sophie, who also keeps her own hens – ones she rescues from battery farms.
She’s actually quite a star in the UK hen rehoming scene. To raise money for, and awareness of, the cause she’s just published this pretty fantastic book Tales from the Coop -which you can buy from Amazon. It’s full of fun articles and anecdotes from rehomers who’ve been able to give abused battery hens a better life. Right now you can pick it up for the poultry price of £3.70. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).
Michelin Microwave – A fun yet detailed analysis of the vanilla bacon. This blog is worth bookmarking.