Jamie Oliver, and his "Roasted" Vegetable Vindaloo- is he having a laugh??
November 18, 2012 5:26 PM   Subscribe

What went wrong with my roasted vegetable vindaloo or is Jamie Oliver just having a laugh?

I made this tonight and it turned out sludgy and flavorless. I'm apparently not the only person who had this problem. I'm actually pissed because usually when following recipes I get really good results- mainly from Fine Cooking magazine where everything turns out perfectly. I am triply annoyed because I also bought all the ingredients for the Empire Roasted Chicken which I don't want to bother doing if it's going to turn out equally disappointing. Is this a thing with Jamie Oliver recipes? I feel like 'roasting' vegetables in a paste and water mix is more like stewing vegetables and the resulting appearances seem to agree (not Jamie's food stylist's version though, that's for sure). Has anyone tried this or the Empire Chicken before? Was there an error on my part of does the recipe he gives not seem to match the results he gets? (Don't bother answering with recipes are just the starting point- if the recipe gives steps, and I follow them to a T then I expect to get the pictured results. And this has generally been my experience up until this Jamie Oliver fiasco.)

(It really looks like he did something totally different- roasted all the veg (until very dark) separately, THEN combined with the liquids to get the colors he got. GRR!)
posted by bquarters to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If I were making that recipe, I would modify and do the following: set oven higher, like 450 or more. Toast spices before blending (less necessary, though always a good idea for making Indian). Not add the water, definitely not before roasting (because that's the really bizarre part; seems like a typo). Use only enough of the paste to cover the vegetables thinly, draining off the rest. Add the rest of the paste only after the vegetables get some decent color (probably on returning it to the stove). Probably not add the water at all-- if it needs liquid, add veg or chicken broth.

The Empire Chicken looks fine as-is, though. The overnight in the fridge (uncovered!) is probably key-- you want as little moisture on the outside of the chicken as possible.
posted by supercres at 5:39 PM on November 18, 2012

Thank you- I agree! Pouring the water in I was like '?!?'. Good to know re Empire Chicken though, that it sounds fine as is. I will still try it and if it doesn't work...I will throw my JO book out the window!! Thanks again.
posted by bquarters at 5:49 PM on November 18, 2012

I've made the Empire Chicken and the potatoes and it was lovely. I used a rack over my roasting pan though, not the oven rack itself. Too much cleanup.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:51 PM on November 18, 2012

I can't really speak to the sludeyness, but looking at your recipe the spice and particularly the salt level seem low, in particular the salt a single teaspoon for all of that seems way low. Tumeric is mostly for color and doesn't really provide a lot of flavor. (Note the vastly boosted levels of salt and spice in the second link)

Any recipe that calls for Garam Masala is a bit difficult. Garam Masala spice blends vary greatly and also should really be fresh ground.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:08 PM on November 18, 2012

You say the problem is that it was flavorless?

How fresh are your spices, and are you sure you used them in the right amounts? I notice that some of the spices call for tablespoons, and some for teaspoons. Switching a tablespoon of garam masala for a teaspoon of same might really affect the flavor of your recipe. If you adjusted the proportions of the recipe at all, are you sure you got your spices right?

For vindaloo, I'm surprised that this recipe only calls for two dried chilies. That seems not very spicy at all, and if your dried chilies were old, it might end up really flavorless.

As bitdamaged implies, I'm wondering if there isn't a typo in those teaspoons/tablespoons. Did they maybe intend a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon?

I never rely on photos of recipes to inform what the finished dish is going to look like. Food stylists have all kinds of magic ways of making food look pretty, and curry is something that needs a lot of finesse to look pretty.
posted by Sara C. at 6:32 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've learned the hard way that you should only really trust the first cookbook from a celebrity chef. The first book is always their tried and true recipes. After that they are inventing new recipes specifically for books they want to sell.
posted by srboisvert at 6:37 PM on November 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

A lot of recipes from celebrity chefs - I would even go so far as to say "most" - are actually ghostwritten. Someone is hired to invent, test, write up, and submit the recipes.

In theory, these recipes then go through a technical edit. One which includes both preparing the recipe and double-checking that all the amounts are sane, the ingredients are non-toxic, that sort of thing.

In practice, the world is a messy place. Recipes slip through the cracks unedited, or are misassigned, or misnamed, or misattributed. Murphy's Law applies.

Whenever making a recipe by a name-brand author, always go with what the comments say. Be suspicious of everything. Mistakes are more common than most people think.

It's hard to figure out what happened in this case. But I am pretty sure that if you could phone up Jamie Oliver and ask him, he would tell you that he would never bake vegetables in a sauce like that, and if he did, he wouldn't call them "roasted."

Maybe the amounts are way off, and you're only supposed to add a splash of water - half a cup instead of a pint, say. Maybe you're supposed to roast the vegetables on their own and only add the sauce for the last five minutes of cooking. Maybe this recipe was completely mangled at the printers, or written by an idiot and never proofed.

Long story short, I am 100% sure that the problem does not lie with you. Find a better recipe and try again.
posted by ErikaB at 7:27 PM on November 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

That first recipe is too slapdash to even consider. The truth is, there are usually a few more steps to comparable Indian (or, if you're talking Chicken skewers: Indonesian, for example) recipes, and perhaps a few more ingredients to consider (that can be bought and keep well, so no worries), but a) the work can be overcome and the techniques aren't too complicated, and b) the results are predictably better than anything like this. And yes, the water comes in too early (if it's needed at all).
Those chicken skewers too... The advocated technique of high-heat-searing chicken fillet until done would only sort-of work, and that only in the fewest of skillets that you likely possess. Most of the time you'll end up with an utterly scorched outside (I mean, they've been marinating in that paste! Which will get black like hell turned real) and undercooked insides.
Do skewers under the electric grill of your oven, with a dish underneath to catch the drip, or on a charcoal grill on medium heat until just done. Sigh.

The empire (whatever, really) roasted chicken, on the other hand, may work more or less. Not much to get wrong there. Most similar recipes I've seen, however, are made either by roasting a whole tamarind-and-salt-rubbed chicken first and combining it with a yummy sauce at a later stage, or by stewing sauce and chicken parts together in a large wok until the sauce has reduced far enough and the chicken is tender.
posted by Namlit at 2:15 AM on November 19, 2012

Yeah, that recipe looks very very suspect. Barely any chilli for something claiming to a vindaloo... Another thing to consider is that a UK recipe-book tablespoon is so much larger than any spoon you might actually use at a table. A heaped spoonful is twice the volume of a level spoonful (by convention) meaning that the recipe calls for over 35ml of garam masala, a lot more than a spoonful with a spoon you might eat with.

However, I really suspect the bulk of the issue lies on the recipe's side, not yours. Yet another reason not to trust the Daily Mail!
posted by Dysk at 4:38 AM on November 19, 2012

barely any chilli for something claiming to a vindaloo
Yeah, that too...
posted by Namlit at 5:01 AM on November 19, 2012

You should always season to taste. The spices listed don't look bad, but they absolutely need salt to bring out the flavor and I agree that 1 tsp for 4 breasts sounds woefully inadequate unless the breasts were heavily salted beforehand. 1 tsp per breast sounds more reasonable.
posted by rq at 1:12 PM on November 19, 2012

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