The Mind of a Chef (2012) s02e13 Episode Script

British Classics

In this episode of The Mind of a Chef, April Bloomfield revisits the classic dishes of her homeland, Great Britain.
Cooks fish and chips I think when anybody thinks of England, they think of fish and chips.
Banoffee pie This is the best thing I think you'll ever eat.
And a childhood favorite, faggots.
I mean, how much fun is this, you know? Like I'm going to get to use my hands.
It smells really good.
Harold McGee breaks down frying, and April discusses the nuances of high tea.
Do you drink your tea like this? No, I certainly don't.
Enter the mind of a chef.
Sometimes it's the simple stuff that really kind of blows your mind.
This is the best thing I think you'll ever eat.
It's hard to just do one description of English food, because there's little pockets and little regions of where you can find stuff in one place and not another.
And we're influenced from so many other places.
If you walked here and you saw maybe a Brit eating, it could be a curry.
Fish and chips.
Potted shrimp? It's more of a southern thing.
Tea, bangers and mash, they're all kind of this big universe of collective kind of food that's under one banner of great British food.
So this is my friend Pete Begg.
Every time I stay in London, he takes me to a chippy.
And it's the best chippy in the whole widey world.
Well, it's my favorite, that's for sure.
I know.
And they just do their fish so perfectly and they fry it to order.
It's always fresh, they fry to order when I ask them to, and it's just excellent.
I love it.
It's not cheap to go eat fish and chips.
So it's not something you do every day.
You have to find the best fish and chip shop in your area.
You can eat them at home, you can go pick them up, bring them back, but I love just being out to walk to the chip shop.
It's like the perfect food to go.
Wrapped up in the paper, salt and vinegar, very quintessentially British.
Hey, Beggs, I can't remember which is which, but We'll just open one, and we'll soon find out.
Yeah, this is the haddock.
Do you always order haddock? Yeah, I've tried everything in there.
And, you know, it's all good, because it's always fresh.
But I always come back to haddock, because it's just my favorite.
I ordered some plaice.
It's pretty good.
Yeah, plaice is lovely.
Yeah, it's nice and moist.
Look at that, look at that.
Oh, my God.
Pretty sexy.
Mmm It's just great.
I like these little crispy bits of like chips and stuff too.
There's a lot of different textures in fish and chips, isn't there? Yeah, mm-hmm.
When it's that rich, creamy fish.
It's the batter that's got a crunch to it, but then it's got sort of a stickiness and almost a chewiness sometimes.
And the chips can be fat and soggy, or they can be crisp, or they can be really thin.
You know.
It's a really simple dish but there's actually quite a lot going on in here.
And then when you start putting vinegar on it and putting salt on it, you know, if you put mushy peas on it, that's great.
And up north once, I had curry sauce on fish and chips.
Oh, I love curry sauce.
And that sounds just horrendous, but it's so good.
Food's much more fun when you can use your hands.
You know, whether you, like, touch it and smell it and eat it, you know.
It's the kind of thing dive into, isn't it? And then in the end you can always lick all the salt and vinegar off your fingers, which is great.
It's delicious.
Hey, wait wait a minute.
Oh no.
Aw, not that, come on.
Fish and chips.
My favorite.
I think when anybody thinks of England, they think of fish and chips.
And pies.
So I'm going to make my version.
So we just got some Russet potatoes, and we're just going to make the chips first.
Because this is three times cooked, thrice-cooked chips.
Sometimes, you know, when you've cooked them three times, they break a little bit, so you don't want to go too dainty.
And I don't peel them, you know, it's kind of nice to have those skins, very rustic, delicious.
I was going to say healthy, but they're not that healthy because they're fried.
Anyway, so that's good.
Wash off all the starch.
And we're just going to throw these in boiling water until they get a little bit powdery on the outside.
And cook them with the lid on too.
Okay, so the batter, I'm going to add a couple of egg yolks.
And this'll help with the color and make it nice and golden brown.
And I'm going to add some dry active yeast, so we're going to let this proof for probably like half an hour until it gets all lively and fermented.
It's always good to taste.
Going to show you a little trick.
Just damp cloth, just flip it like this, put it under your bowl, give it a little nestle, and then hopefully, the bowl won't move, and then you can use both hands.
So I'm just going to use this, the Anchor Steam, and I'm just going to slowly whisk it in.
You know, it's super fast, really easy to make a batter.
Battering fish is just it's just a way of protecting the fish, really.
When it goes in the hot oil.
So what makes a good fish and chips is fresh fish, definitely.
Great potatoes, frying to order, super, super duper important.
So I drained my chips.
See how they go fluffy like this? That's good, because that's what's going to make the chip crispy.
I have another process to do.
I'm going to drop them in the oil.
And it's about 320.
And I'm just going to cook those until they just absorb some of the fat and cook a little bit more and go a little bit creamy.
While they're ticking over, I'm going to portion my fish.
This is a petrale sole, from California.
It's a good thickness for frying.
You know, it's going to fry nice and evenly.
Let's have a little mooch.
They've started to absorb some of the fat.
So I'm going to let these drain.
I'm going to turn my fryer up to 350, going to dip it in the flour, just give it a knock off.
You don't want too much flour left on.
It's just to help the batter stick.
Drop it in.
You can see how it's a really thin batter on the outside.
And we're just going to just knock it, like this.
And we're just going to shake it like this.
And it'll just help the fish not stick to the bottom.
And just give it one shake like this, and then this is where I want to get some crispy stuff on the fish.
Like this.
You can see how they started to get these like little fluffy bits.
So that's kind of my take, a little tempura style, you know, just kind of like add those little crispy bits.
Sometimes when we were a kid we would go and ask for these bits, that would float to the surface.
We were like, "Can we have the crispy bits?" And we used to get them for free.
There was a point I think you had to pay for them, so I think we stopped eating them.
It was probably a good thing.
So this is ready.
It's really nice and crispy.
Golden brown, a little bit of salt.
Now with my chips.
I wonder who was the first person to ever fry a potato.
They're like the most delicious things.
I could eat potatoes all day, every day.
Just they're so versatile, you know? But if you can figure out how to do the three times cooked, the thrice-cooked chips, they're the best to do.
I think you're going to like these.
These are happy potatoes.
Look at this one here.
Super crispy.
Oh, these are ready.
Oh, my God.
Oh, my goodness me.
There's a you know there's I can't get my words out, I'm so excited.
They have absorbed fat, which is great.
They're clean, crispy, potato-y.
They're going to complement the fish really well.
This fish and chips right here should be on the flag of England.
So what's happening when we're frying a piece of food? Why do we bother with all the trouble of frying? And the answer essentially comes down to drying out, desiccation, making crunchy.
That's the whole point of frying, is to cook a piece of food through, but end up with a wonderfully crunchy crust that contrasts with the texture of the inside.
And the reason that oil is such a good medium in which to do this is that we can heat oil to temperatures way above the boiling point of water.
To 400 degrees and more.
So, imagine that you're frying a piece of meat.
You drop it into the oil.
The water in the surface of that food very quickly gets heated up to the boiling point, and then it turns into water vapor.
It begins to come out of the food.
Little bubbles begin to form off the sides and disperse into the oil, and then as the food gets hotter and hotter, more and more bubbles come out.
The fact that the food is bubbling actively means that it's got lots of moisture left, we need to keep cooking it, and then by the time you're finished, there should be little or no bubbling left.
That means that the crust has been dried out completely, it's nice and crunchy, and there's no more cooking left to do.
I'm going to make some faggots.
These are a classic British dish, from the midlands, where I was born and raised.
Faggot means "bundle of sticks" in Latin, so this is going to be a bundle of meat.
Basically, it's pork liver and pork belly, and I've just lightly frozen it, just to keep it kind of crispy, so the fat doesn't smear.
So you can see the liver coming through, and the fat.
You know the fat's still nice and cold.
So this looks good.
So I'm going to do some sage.
You know, I grew up eating these, but it's nice to be able to make my own.
You know, know what goes in them, know where things come from.
I'm just going to do some thyme.
Not too much thyme, because too much thyme can be a bit dirty.
Can be a bit too dull, too flat.
So just a little bit.
And then some oats.
A little bit of mace, and a little bit of nutmeg.
You know, you don't want to overspice them.
We're not trying to hide anything.
We're trying to emphasize.
So I've sweated some onions and some carrots, and I've really cooked them down until they're quite soft.
You can see how soft they are.
These will kind of just melt into the faggots.
I mean, how much fun is this, you know? Like I'm going to get to use my hands now.
It smells really good.
And at the end, they're going to taste really good.
Hopefully, anyway.
So we're just going to kind of massage this in.
Make sure your ingredients are blended through nicely.
So we're going to weigh these well, I'm going to guesstimate, actually but we normally do anywhere in a range from four and a half ounces to five.
I think the essence of British cooking is like the layering of flavors.
I think, you know, the slow cooking, the sweating, the roasting, the braising, and then adding something a little bit more bright to it.
The next step is to roll these in a little cabbage.
These are blanched, just until they're like a little bit soft.
And I'm just going to cut some of the stalk out right there.
Make sure they're not too wet.
You kind of want to make it just a little bit tight, you know.
You don't want any loosey goosey bits.
They are so cute.
I love them.
It's just very satisfying cooking, you know? Especially when you can do it in the way you want to, and get everything the way you like it, and the produce that you like.
It's very satisfying.
Ta-dah! These babies are ready like this.
Little bundles of joy.
And then this is caul fat.
Basically the lining of the stomach.
This is going to render away.
It just helps keep those little packages together, but this is going to add a really nice slight funkiness to it.
I'm just going to wrap these.
Once or twice is good.
You don't want to do too much or then it won't render.
Make sure all the edges are covered.
I might go one more.
Not much more than that, and then just cut it.
Pull it tight a little bit, you know.
Push it underneath.
And then just give it a nice little tuck.
So I'm going to just pop them in here, like this.
See, this is where my lines between English and Italian kind of, you know.
I kind of mix them up a little bit.
I'm going to add some marsala, which is a fortified wine from Italy.
This is going to add a really nice, slight acidity, and kind of an age to it.
That's going to add a nice sweet and sour.
Couple each, maybe.
Or one, depending on how many you like to nibble on.
And then some chicken stock.
This is going to braise in the oven for about 40 minutes.
And you're just going to keep basting.
You don't want to add too much stock, because you don't want it to bob around, you know? And then they're just, you know, boiling.
You want them to kind of caramelize and get nice and brown.
And concentrated.
In the oven they go.
They smell so good.
You can see they've shrunk a little bit and they've got a nice caramelization.
Mustard, is going to go really well with the pork.
Prune on top.
Some sage.
A little touch of olive oil.
You know, when we first put these on the menu at the Spotted Pig, nobody would say the word "faggot.
" So they pronounced it "fageaux.
" It was quite amusing, because the waiters would come down and giggle in the kitchen.
But I don't see the problem.
It is the West Village, after all.
Welcome to the Brown's Tea Lounge.
My name is William and I'll be here to serve your tea for you today.
Your tea stand.
Wow, that looks absolutely beautiful.
We have on the bottoms here, your finger sandwiches.
These are free-range egg with mayonnaise, ham with a mustard crème fraiche, smoked salmon, cheese with tomato, green tomato chutney and cucumber, and you can have as many of these as you wish.
So please, enjoy.
Cucumber sandwiches.
So we've got And egg sandwiches are very classic tea.
It's not your traditional afternoon tea unless you've got egg, mayonnaise, salmon, and cucumber, all with crusts off.
Yes, that's a big must.
You don't want to eat a crust.
So here we have your Assam tea for two.
Thank you very much, William.
You're welcome.
Please enjoy.
Do you have any tea etiquette? Do you, like, use your pinky like this? Do you drink your tea like this? I'm just kidding.
Should one drink with your perhaps we should ask William.
Yes, William.
Madam, regarding all matters of comportment, in afternoon tea, it's quite subjective since it's entirely up to the person enjoying the tea themselves.
I imagine for certain classes, it would be appropriate for the drinker to hold out their little finger when drinking tea, but we would certainly not impose upon our guests the requirement to do so, should they not wish to.
But please, do feel free if you wish.
Now how do you feel about people drinking tea out of mugs? I fully support it, madam.
You do? Good.
Especially in the morning.
I'm going to make the best dessert ever.
It's a banoffee pie.
It's basically toffee and banana.
It's said to have originated in The Hungry Monk in East Sussex, in about 1972.
This is basically just a sweet crust dough.
And what I do is I grate it, so I don't have to overwork the pastry.
And it's kind of nice, because it's kind of housewifey.
And I kind of like that.
So you can see I'm just kind of pushing it against the sides.
I always start with the sides and then I do the base.
If you're in London, actually any part of England, you'll probably find this at every pub.
It's like one of those gastropub classics.
So, I'm going to chill that down.
Because you don't want it to shrink.
This one looks a little tidier than my last one.
Okay, so it's chilled.
I'm going to put it in the oven.
And I'll just cook it until it goes nice and golden brown.
Probably take like 15 minutes.
My oven is at like 350.
So, this is the best thing I think you'll ever eat.
And it's like the most simple thing.
Condensed milk sweetened.
You cook it in boiling water for about five hours.
And you just keep topping up the water, because you don't really want to let it boil dry.
And after about five hours, you let it cool.
And you end up with this thick dulce de leche, which is like a thick toffee.
It's super sexy.
We're going to use it for this tart.
And I think this complements the banana and the cream and the chocolate really well.
So this is nice.
You know, we've got some good color right here, and I'm going to let it chill.
This is a cold dessert.
And the colder, the better.
So I'm going to just pop it in the fridge and just make sure it's all super delicious.
When I first started cooking, I didn't want to go anywhere near pastry just because all the girls ended up being kind of put on pastry.
And so I was like that was like evil to me.
And then I ended up getting a job in a little local restaurant in Hammersmith.
You know, I was like, "I'm just going to give it a go.
" And I really, really enjoyed it.
You don't have to be too, you know, too precise about the bananas.
So this is the fun bit for me, because you get to slather all this all over these bananas.
I mean just look at that.
Look, look.
Look at those little so beautiful.
I don't know whoever thought of boiling condensed milk to come up with something like this.
I mean, it's genius.
Maybe they just dropped, like, you know, a tin of this in some boiling soup one day, and was like, "Forgot it was there," or something.
Okay, so I'm going to start my cream.
And then we're going to do a little bit of vanilla.
So look how nice and sticky these are, you know? They're all nice and moist.
So we're just going to scrape that out.
It should be nice and thick, not too runny.
And I just like to kind of spread it here and there.
You know? So you can see everything.
So we're going to chill this for about, I don't know, you could do it overnight, but the longer the better.
Minimum probably like an hour.
So I've got some milk chocolate, dark chocolate, whatever your preference is, you know.
And I'm just going to kind of grate that on.
So I'm going to chill this baby.
Patience, you know? Hour later.
This looks great.
I'm going to give it a little slice.
You know, cooking's all about senses, you know? It's the smells, the sounds, you know.
The tastes.
Oh, look at that! So exciting! It's perfect! You know, I quite like cooking British classics.
If I'm kind of stereotyped, I don't mind that.
I think I'd rather it be that way, and for people to realize that British food is actually quite delicious, instead of having a bad rap, you know, because British food's not bad.
It's all about teaching and stepping forward through the years to refine British food.