Another two Heston from Waitrose summer barbecue recipes to help sell Waitrose products. This time it’s Heston’s Grilled Steak with Parsley Sauce and Warm Potato Salad recipes. Using Heston from Waitrose Finishing Jus for Beef and Caramelised Onion Bacon and Mustard Gravy.
Late this summer Waitrose published 11 shiny new Heston Blumenthal summer barbecue recipes. We had great fun testing out Heston’s Ultimate Cheeseburger recipe, Heston’s Grilled Pineapple Sundae recipe and Heston’s Barbecue Chicken Wings recipe.
A cynical person might notice that all 11 of these Heston recipes specified the use of one or more the Heston from Waitrose products. You can’t blame them, although it does mean the overall list reads like “Ideas With Chicken Stock and Popcorn Ice Cream”.
Further down the list we saw two Heston from Waitrose recipes that would make a great outdoor Sunday lunch: Heston’s Grilled Steak with Parsley Sauce recipe, combined with Heston’s Warm Potato Salad recipe.
Both these recipes use Heston from Waitrose sauces: the Finishing Jus for Beef and the Caramelised Onion, Bacon & Mustard Gravy. Their slightly prohibitive price (£2.39 each) means we hadn’t gotten round to trying either of these yet.
These recipes and a Sunday lunch barbecue seemed the perfect excuse to review them. Sadly, it was raining that day: SPARTANS! Tonight we dine indoors…
Price: £2.39 each
Availability: Very good
Special Equipment: Barbecue or griddle pan
Special Ingredients: Heston from Waitrose Finishing Jus for Beef, Heston from Waitrose Caramelised, Onion, Bacon and Mustard Gravy
Time: 1 -1½ hours
Cost: £20 approx
Since these are two separate recipes (four if you include “pimping” –eugh- the sauces) we’ll tell you about each in turn.
We weren’t confident we could do the whole potato salad in the mere 5 minutes resting time that’s specified for the steak, so that went on first.
Heston’s Warm Potato Salad recipe
Step 1: Boil the Potatoes
Almost exactly like the old Heston’s Crushed New Potatoes recipe, halved spuds (we’re using Anyas) are boiled for about 10 – 20 minutes with garlic and rosemary. Cider vinegar is added too, which will become an alarming theme as this meal progresses.
Step 2: Sear the Potatoes
This is the one and only bit of the recipe that you’re meant to use a barbecue for. A kinda superfluous step, this adds a charred edge to your spuds.
Cooking indoors we used our griddle plan to try and replicate the bars of a barbecue. It’s not a big pan so we had to do this in 2 batches.
Step 3: Heat Sauce
The quality of Heston’s Caramelised Onion, Bacon & Mustard Gravy is evident the minute you squeeze it out of the packet. It has a rich, delicious smell and is more solid than liquid due to the high gelatine content.
Step 4: Fry Bacon
Like all sensible humans we love bacon, but adding so much seemed like an admission that the sauce isn’t up to standard.
After all, if Heston and Waitrose had really made the best sauce they possibly could then you wouldn’t need to add any more ingredients, would you?
Step 5: Finish Sauce and Dress Potatoes
The same goes for the finishing herbs. If the sauce was really that good you wouldn’t need extra herbs either.
Of course anyone who’s used dried herbs knows that fresh herbs are in a whole different league. Adding fresh chives and tarragon gives the sauce a real lift. Bung in a chopped shallot (or quarter of a small onion, since we still can’t find a supermarket that will sell individual shallots) and you’re ready.
Just before you serve check that the sauce is heated through, and then pour it onto the potatoes. It’s best to do this last-minute so the spuds don’t go soggy.
Heston’s Steak with Parsley Sauce recipe
Step 1: Heat Sauce and Reduce
Another example of flaws with Heston’s Waitrose sauce product? Heston’s Steak with Parsley Sauce recipe instructs you to reduce the packet of thick, jellied sauce by a half. Why? Is the sauce on the supermarket shelf too thin or weak or watered-down?
Be sure to do this on a low to medium heat. A rolling boil will be faster, but it’ll create lots of bitter flavour compounds that ruin the sauce.
Step 2: Add Mustard, Vinegar & Herbs
This was worrying. The 200g packet of sauce is reduced by half, leaving you with approximately 100g. To this you’re told to add 20g of Dijon mustard and 25g of cider vinegar.
25g!!!! That’s a quarter the weight of the actual sauce! We presumed the reducing means there’d be a lot of richness that needs to be cut through etc. etc. But, still…
As with the potato salad we were happier with fresh herbs. The recipe is called parsley sauce, but there’s just as much chive and tarragon in the mix. These really elevate the flavour.
Step 3: Fry the Steak
As with the potato salad there’s only one bit of the recipe that actually requires a barbecue and this is it.
Hawksmoor’s Richard Turner would advise a barbecue as the best way to cook a steak, but Heston’s steak recipe differs by suggesting you flip the meat every 15 – 20 seconds.
We’ve tried both methods and, to be honest, we’d side with the Hawksmoor guys. A first solid minute on each side is essential to build up a bit of a crust, and after that we flip every 30 seconds.
Step 4: Dress and Serve
The steak gets 5 minutes of resting. There weren’t many resting juices, but we poured what little there was back into the sauce.
Those 5 minutes are a good opportunity to check all your sauces are warm and assemble your dinner.
This was a really good dinner. Pricey, as a steak-based meal always is – but absolutely packed full of rich, indulgent flavour.
We’d worried that the finished steak sauce would barely yield more than 30ml each, a couple of tablespoons, if spread between 4 people. But then as Northerners we often serve our Sunday lunch swimming in a puddle of gravy. Heston’s Steak with Parsley Sauce recipe is meant to give more of a civilised stain on the plate – providing a punch of concentrated flavour and a bit of extra lubrication. Like the dishes they serve at Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental.
Drawbacks? Well, I can’t believe I’m saying this but there was perhaps too much bacon in the potato salad. And perhaps some Germanic chopped gherkins might be welcome to help Cut Through the… well, you know.
The real disaster was the steak sauce. The 25g of cider vinegar literally overpowers all the other flavours. It’s such a shame that so much care and attention and these great ingredients are spoiled by the use of so much vinegar. If you do make this sauce then we’d suggest lowering that to just 5g. Better yet, add a tiny splash and adjust to your taste.
As for the sauces themselves? Well, please remember that we pay for all these sauces out of our own pockets. (In fact Waitrose’s PR people have been quite dismissive whenever we’ve asked for review samples). Despite that we think the sauces are utterly fantastic.
All of the sauces in the Heston from Waitrose range require complicated, multi-stage cooking techniques to replicate at home. Anyone who’s read Heston at Home will know the beef and chicken stock recipes take several hours and require over a kilo of ingredients each. Add even more time and foodstuffs if you then reduce and adapt those stocks into a sauce.
We’re not sure if the Waitrose stocks and sauces use quite the same methods as those from Heston’s recipe books (veal and kombu aren’t listed in the recipe books). They might be pricey, and definitely best saved for a special occasion, but absolutely of the highest quality.
Oh, and if you did like the sauce – in spite of the high vinegar content- feel free to mop up the rest from the plate in the traditional Lancashire way:
Although we think steak is best enjoyed on its own, without the addition of your Hollandaise or your Béarnaise, we’d definitely consider making this again.
We’d add half as much bacon to the potatoes, and use the merest dash of vinegar in the beef jus. Also, you really don’t need to reduce that sauce by half, it’s plenty thick as it is.
This is also probably best cooked indoors. It’s a 4 to 5 pan endeavour. Having to keep popping outside to a barbecue would only complicate things.
Do you think the Waitrose sauces and stocks are worth the money, or would you prefer to make your own from scratch? Have you tried making either of these recipes, and how much vinegar would you add to a recipe before you thought it was ruined? Let us know in the comments section.