Mucking about with a Raymond Blanc recipe…I know, the arrogance of it. Generally I would follow Monsieur Blanc’s instructions to the letter, but I had no Angostura Bitters and was not prepared to buy a bottle just for required 2-3 dashes, and I suspected my local CostCutter was unlikely to stock either banana shallots or fresh garlic flowers. The original recipe can be found here, but I suspect this one is likely to be more realistic for the average punter.
So what are you going to do with your tomato essence?
Make Raymond Blanc’s ‘Tomato Risotto’ – recipe to follow.
Preparation time: 15 minutes + 6 hours chilling + overnight hanging
Cooking time: none
Skill level: easy
Makes: 600 – 800ml
- cherry tomatoes – 2kg
- ½ a smallish fennel – sliced
- ½ a celery stick – chopped
- 1 garlic clove – finely sliced
- ½ an onion – finely sliced
- 4 chicory leaves – sliced
- 1 sprig fresh basil
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Tabasco sauce – 4-6 drops
- Worcestershire sauce – 1 tbsp (leave out for a vegetarian version)
Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together.
Put the mixture into a food processor (you’ll have to do this in batches) and pulse five times for 1-2 seconds each time until crushed, but not puréed.
Transfer the tomato melange into a large bowl and repeat until all of the vegetables have been crushed.
Put this mixture into a bowl, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for six hours.
Line a clean bowl with a large piece of muslin and spoon in the tomato mixture. Draw the corners of the muslin cloth together and tie up tightly. String the muslin ‘bag’ up above the bowl to catch the strained juices.
Leave to strain overnight. (Do not be tempted to squeeze the muslin.*)
Once strained, pour into a suitable container, cover and refrigerate until needed.
I’m not sure what Monsieur Blanc did with his tomato pulp, but we thought it was far to good to throw away and so used it as the base for a very tasty tomato (and honey) soup.
* As an experiment the next morning we squeezed the drained bag of tomato mixture and compared this resulting juice with the tomato essence we had collected overnight. It was cloudy and although tasty, nowhere near as intense as the essence. So heed Raymond’s advice and don’t squeeze.
Verdict: (Literally) The very essence of tomato.
Drink: This indeed could be drunk on it’s own as a cold soup – such as.
Entertainment: A weekend preparing the house for a new arrival.