Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are food magicians. Like a fusion of Willy Wonka and Frank Gehry, they design mind blowing food art and architectural masterpieces while exploring how setting, performance and synaesthesia affect flavor. Their new cookbook Feasting With Bompas & Parr takes their provocative perspective on feasting and gives you the know-how to create your own spectacular food experiences at home. Here are two of their visually stunning recipes to take your next culinary presentation to another level.
Braised Beef Shin (pictured above)
4 kg/8 lb 13 oz piece of beef shin, bone in
2 star anise
2 onions, cut in half
1 bay leaf
8 black peppercorns
2 celery sticks
Beef shin is a magnificent cut – it’s got a bone of epic proportions, it’s inexpensive and becomes meltingly tender with ease. Your butcher will be happy to procure a shin bone for you. Ask him to leave the meat on the bone. For this recipe about 4 kg/8 lb 13 oz of meat is ideal. This works out as about half the shin. If you are cooking for more people you can get the entire shin but you’ll need to cook it in the oven – make sure you can fit it in! It’s big and nasty.
Place the shin bone in a casserole or large saucepan, add the aromatics and top up with water. Bring slowly to the boil, skimming off any scum and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. You can either place in a low oven for about 3 hours, or continue to cook on the stove over a very low heat. The meat is ready when the bone is sticking out proud and the meat is on the verge of falling apart.
Carefully remove the meat from the pot. If the meat is very delicate it may be easier to drain the stock off first. Lift the meat, bone aloft onto a serving dish and serve with buttered greens and mashed potatoes.
Grilled Soles with Mâitre d’Hôtel Butter
For the mâitre d’hôtel butter
125 g/4 oz/1 stick/1/2 cup salted butter, cut into cubes
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
For the grilled soles
8 lemon soles
1 x recipe mâitre d’hôtel butter (see above)
50 g/13/4 oz/31/2 tbsp butter, melted
4 tomatoes, to serve (optional)
This is one of those old-fashioned dishes that is so simple it is hardly a recipe, yet it is ideal for an impressive main course. Depending on your budget you can either get lemon soles or larger Dover soles. See what is available when you go shopping. The only tricky bit of this dish is peeling the skin off the fish. You need the dark skin removed, but this is something that your fishmonger will do for you.
Using a food mixer, beat the butter until it is soft, then mix in the lemon juice and parsley. Lay out a sheet of cling film (plastic wrap) and place the butter mixture in the middle. Pat out to create a sausage shape, about 12 cm/5 in long. Roll up in the cling film and twist the ends to create a smooth roll.
Refrigerate until hardened.
At least half an hour before serving, remove the mâitre d’hôtel butter from the refrigerator and slice it into 8 rounds, about 8 mm/3/8 in thick. Pop them on a plate and allow them to soften a little.
Brush a grill pan with some of the melted butter and lay the soles skin-side down on the pan. You will probably need to cook the soles in two batches. Brush some more butter on top and grill for about 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. There is no need to turn them. Keep the soles warm at the bottom of the oven.
Line a large serving dish with a linen napkin. Arrange the soles on top and place a round of the mâitre d’hôtel butter on top of the fish. Arrange parsley sprigs between each fish. For extra fun cut some tomatoes in half using a zigzag series of cuts across the equator. Serve at once.
Recipes taken from Feasting with Bompas & Parr, published by Pavilion.
Recipe photography by Nathan Pask and Beth Evans.