It’s Hestontastic!

Strangely, I don’t think my good lady actually thought I’d attempt to make any of the actual recipes when she bought me a copy of Heston Blumenthal‘s “Further Adventures in Search of Perfection” for Christmas last year. Sometimes I worry about how little she appears to know me. A chili con carne recipe which takes three days to prepare is exactly the sort of challenge I’m practically incapable of resisting. A black forest gateau that requires the use of a hoover? I say “bring it on!”

I do intend to have a crack at those ones, but I thought I’d ease my way in with the Bolognese recipe from “In Search of Perfection,” which takes a mere ten hours to prepare and requires no special tools.

We invited round two friends whom we have cause to thank and don’t see nearly enough of, and I gave it my best shot. Here’s the maestro himself, explaining how it’s done:

In the interests of honesty, here are the things I did differently:

  • My good lady is allergic to celery, so I took it out;
  • Every butcher I tried practically laughed in my face when I asked for minced ox tail, so I used good steak mince;
  • I don’t hold with serving a meat sauce with spaghetti, so I used pappardelle (thick ribbons);
  • I also served it with some particularly good garlic bread of my own devising.

I should also point that the video is missing a couple of minor steps. If you want to actually make it, I recommend buying the book. If you have no desire to make it whatsoever, I recommend buying the book. Both books. They are fascinating reads. If you can’t read, I recommend buying the book. It also has good pictures. I’m a little confused if that’s the case, though.

At this point you’re probably wondering if the sauce is good enough to warrant the expenditure of an entire day to make it? In short: yes. Abso-fucking-lutely. It was amazing. Will I make it again? Probably, though certainly not often. I might make it sometime when my good lady isn’t in town and I can include the celery without the risk of her death (the sauce is not quite that good). Perhaps I’ll even try begging and pleading with one of the local butchers to get some minced ox tail or a better substitute.

What I will definitely do is use some of the individual techniques. The tomato base may well become a sauce for meatballs, and the caramelized onions will almost certainly get used in a gravy or two.

Across the entire of both books are sixteen recipes. One down.


5 thoughts on “It’s Hestontastic!

  1. Heroic action sir! Dunno where you could find a butcher that actually, uh, butches and would be able to supply strange bits of meat. Can they supply ox tail at all (eg, for soup) that you could mince/finely chop yourself?

  2. Oxtail itself is reasonably common in butchers. Presumably as HN says, it’s the getting oot of the bone that is the issue. Someone (?Hugh F-W) reckons getting your own mincer isn’t unreasonable (clearly he as more storage space than me) so I guess that’d be the way to do it. Butcher and mince yersel. Add another two hours to the project, no probs :o)

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