Posted 23 February 2013 - 08:38 PM
I have cooked, or used as inspiration, many of the recipes from Blumenthal's books. For some reason, the way he does things really clicks with my taste buds. I think his "In Search of Perfection" books work better in tandem with watching his shows where I think he does a better job of explaining the whys behind the elaborate techniques.
A few days ago, I had an extra boar belly. I decided to give long cook sous vide one more chance. For some reason, it has not appealed to me. It's a texture issue or something. I did lots of research, and found that Heston's recipe for pork belly called for a lower temp (140F) and less time (18 hours) than most. MCAH, for example, calls for 149F for 36 hours as the preferred time. I tried Heston's. Success! I loved it! It was tender, juicy, flavorful, and had just the right chew. The only seasoning came from a 10 hour brine followed by a 1 hour soaking with the water changed every 15 minutes. I think I now see a way forward with long time SV in a way that will appeal to me.
I also made tandoor chicken using his chicken tikka masala recipe. I didn't make the masala sauce, and just grilled the chicken. It still took 2 days. Awesome-est chicken ever! Intense garlic, ginger, and masala. Juicy and fall apart tender.
Being raised in Texas, I make a lot of chili and am super proud of it (never say a bad word about a Texan's chili). What could a Brit teach me? I followed quite a few of the ideas from his "Perfection" book and show. It took a couple of days to make, whereas I usually only need 8 hours or so. My wife has eaten my chili for 20 years. I put the Heston-inspired chili in front of her. "I'm sorry. You put a lot of time into this, and it's a lot of work. But THIS is REALLY good chili, and I hope you do it again."
He even changed my daily pasta. I used to buy the ubiquitous Barilla brand , but his description of what he likes in pasta made me change. Now there is only one store I know of in my immediate area that carries brass-extruded, slow dried pasta. The cheapest is the Fresh Market brand, which they claim is made for them in Umbria.