Digga ding ding ding ding ding...
By davew on Nov 29, 2006
I've been watching Heston Blumenthal's TV series "In search of perfection" (BBC2, Tuesdays, 20:00 or 20:30, it varies), and there's a couple of tricks I think he's actually still missing.
The episode the week before last, on steak and salad, I found particularly excellent - as well as going to considerable lengths to find the perfect cut of beef, Blumenthal's method of cooking it (brown with gas torch and then put in a 50 degree oven to cook for 24 hours) is both simple, and from a Physics perspective, blindingly obvious. Yet, this is not the way beef is typically cooked. I'll probably give it a go :-).
Last week's programme, on perfect fish and chips, was excellent from the perspective of finding the perfect fish (Cornish turbot) and the batter techniques (borrowing from Japanese tempura), however he still peels the potatoes he uses for his chips. I'm surprised he hasn't noticed that the most flavoursome part of a potato is the skin. Fish and chip shop proprietors "in the know" wash their spuds and put them straight in the chipper rather than peeling them.
This week's, on pizza, concentrated (and justly so) on the tomatoes. In my view, it's the tomatoes that really define an excellent pizza. I've eaten in the Neapolitan restaurant he visited, and I must say that I thought it was outclassed by Gino's in Vico Equense, which is on the mountain road between Naples and Sorrento; the pizzas there are rectangular and you buy them by the unit length :-). The bases at Gino's aren't just unusual in their shape, though; the texture is also very different, and is probably best characterised as "Victoria sponge cake but a bit firmer". They are about 4mm thick and actually melt-in-the-mouth, very different to either the typical thin and slightly-crisp traditional Italian base or the more doughy, thicker American base. It would have been cool if Blumenthal had managed to replicate this instead.
His idea of using a well-heated heavy iron pan as the object to cook your pizza on, thus getting your oven hot enough to cook the pizza quickly, is a neat one.