There’s still no picture of shepherd’s pie (see yesterday’s post) because it wasn’t fit to photograph by the time I’d finished. It tasted fine, it even looked good in an anaemic sort of way,but it needed a little extra finish, and that was where the trouble started. I could have put it under the grill, but I had another idea.
I have often looked at cook’s blow torches in the cash and carry, and always decided I can’t justify the expense, as I’m not sufficiently adventurous to get a lot of use out of it. However, I’ve often felt an urge to try one on the topping of a shepherd’s pie.
So this evening, after putting the pie together I withdrew to the garden shed and pulled out my faithful old flame wand, which is normally used for weed control. After all, it produces flame from gas, so why couldn’t it produce an artfully browned top on my potato topping? The only difference I could see was that you had to stand further away with the flame wand, as it’s designed to reach the ground while you stand.
The theory still seems sound.
When I use the grill, after using the fork to make a pattern on top, I tend to wish it would work more quickly, though it does eventually produce a nicely browned effect that looks quite appetising. Brown is a good colour for food.
Now, moving to the blow torch. That doesn’t seem to produce such an appetising effect. Instead of brown it tends more towards the black end of the cookery spectrum. The pattern was far starker – charred on the edges of the fork marks but with white channels in between. It’s difficult to explain, but it wasn’t pretty.
It may be that in years to come my shepherd’s pie with industrial blow torching may be seen as a pioneering dish of post-apocalyptic culinary style. Tonight, however, whilst the flavour was fine, the quality of the finish was remarked on, and suggestions were made that the term “garden tool” should be taken as a sign that it shouldn’t be used in cookery.
I bet Heston Blumenthal never has to put up with comments like that.