Some Like it Hot – the Heinz Chilli Challenge
“Heinz meanz beanz!” was the familiar tagline that followed on from “57 varieties!” and the understanding that Heinz is associated with baked beans and soup is very strong, aided considerably by those clever but simple marketing terms.
Heinz like most other successful world brands doesn’t stand still though, and have very recently launched a range of chilli sauces to complement their fine lineup. The ever changing face of British food has benefited enormously from the influx of many cuisine styles from all over the globe. Hot sauces have become much more commonplace and many a household will have at least a single bottle of something with a bit of kick to it.
Heinz have created five different sauces, Peri Peri, Fiery Sriracha, Hot Pepper, Jerk BBQ and Sweet Chilli. Myself and a group of others were challenged to create a plate of food using on or another of the sauces, and then cook them for judging, mini-masterchef style for Lisa Faulkner, a genuine Celebrity Masterchef winner! No pressure then!
I decided to go with a crab recipe, as it struck me that many of the cuisines represented by the hot sauce range often used crab as an ingredient, and my partner Sarah also loves it! I decide on crab cakes with a salad accompaniment, but two ways using the Jerk and Sriracha sauces covering both the West Indies and Thailand in a single meal!
I found myself a few days later outside L’Atelier des Chefs in Wigmore street, nervously wondering where I’d left my recipe sheet! It was of course at home, but I remembered pretty much what Ineeded to do. I suspect that unlike Lisa I’d be out of masterchef quite quickly with that kind of approach! However, time to knuckle down and cook!
After saying our hellos and having a glass of prosecco to calm our nerves we all made out way to our allotted workstations. Most of our pre-ordered ingredients were ready and waiting and the common ones nearby. L’Atelier des Chefs is a combined shop and cookery school, so the facilities were excellent. A good adaption of a professional kitchen with a bit more space… and not so hot! Lisa gave us a quick pep talk and then we were off, with 45 mins to cook in! I will include my recipe below, so won’t give a blow by blow account here, but my recipe demanded a short cooking time, so most of my time was spent in preparation and making the side salad.
I had tasted the five sauces raw prior to deciding upon a recipe, a bit like a coffee tasting. Just your palate and the sauces with nothing to change the taste. I have to say I was very impressed! They were authentic, but very balanced. Personally my partner Sarah and I prefer quite a lot of heat in our spicy food, and we often find two things occurring. Either we overdo the heat in our food and see our friends begin to sweat! Or, we eat supposedly hot food and find it lacking whilst our friends are exclaiming how nice and spicy it is! It’s not easy to pitch a heat level, with excellent taste that will suit the majority. However, I think Heinz has done a great job in this respect, and no doubt that’s a result of a lot of testing!
After a short pep talk from Lisa, it was on with the cooking. The well equipped kitchen was great to work with, although I have to say one thing that bothered me slightly was the lack of clearing up and washing up that needed to be done… or not done! I’m quite used to clearing and cleaning as I go, and just handing the waste and washing to a school staff member was odd! I could get used to it though! Lisa came around to us all individually and went through our recipes with us. Gradually people moved from chopping to cooking, and the hobs and burners became more crowded. My Crab cakes were eventually ready, and my plate of side salad ready for them, so I moved on to cooking them on the hob. I gave in to the desire to start basting the tops of them with the frothing butter just like you see the professionals doing……I don’t think anyone was fooled however!
Lisa started judging as plates became ready, and eventually it was my turn. Crab cakes are always really nice as long as you use decent ingredients, and Lisa seemed to like them quite a lot! The trouble was…… there were a lot of good plates of food, all having made good use of the Heinz sauces! Once judged we moved on to a large table and shared our dishes around. All of the dishes were excellent though and Lisa I’m sure had a hard job deciding! Eventually she decided upon the Crab dish made by May, who thoroughly deserved it having dressed three whole crabs and made a large sharing platter of Asian style spicy crab Curry. It looked fantastic! It was a lot of work to do in 45 minutes, but she managed it and thoroughly deserved her win!
The recipe, Crab Cakes two ways, Thai’d and Jerk’d
Crab cakes two ways, Thai’d and Jerked.
2 Dressed Crabs (ideally, or 2 whole cooked crabs if dressed not available)
300g Dried Breadcrumbs (ideally Panko)
120g double cream
Heinz Fiery Sriracha sauce
Heinz Jerk BBQ sauce
Flat leafed Parsley
Bunch of spring Onions
Knob of Ginger
For the salad:
Combine the Crab meat, breadcrumbs, two whole eggs and one yolk(beaten), the double cream, a tablespoon of Worcester sauce, a dessertspoon of grated red onion, and a small handful of chopped Parsley in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. It should be a sticky consistency that you can just about shape with a spoon.
Divide into two parts and in one, add a handful of finely chopped spring onions and ginger. Add one dessertspoonful of Heinz Sriracha sauce. In the other add one dessertspoonful of Heinz Jerk sauce. Mix again.
Prepare the salad by washing the lettuce and rocket, slice radishes, chop cucumber and avocado and arrange on a plate, drizzle with Balsamic vinegar.
When that’s ready, heat enough butter to cover the pan to foaming point, and then carefully spoon in the crab cake mixture into appropriate patty sizes. Shape them into rounds if needed with a spoon. Use a good non-stick frying pan, and use a thin spatula to carefully lift the crab cakes and check the cooking. When one side is nicely browned, carefully lift and turn the patty. They will be loose and sloppy when first in the pan and become more handleable as they cook. When they are nicely browned on both sides, carefully lift them out and place on kitchen towel to remove any excess oil. Then place on the plate with the salad and add some of the respective sauces for dipping. Then just enjoy!