February 18, 2011 by

Heston’s Meat Fruit made easy with Thermomix

Heston Blumenthal Meat Fruit Recipe

Inspiration: UK chef Heston Blumenthal is known around the world for being the whimsical wizard of molecular gastronomy who uses his Michelin-starred award-winning restaurant The Fat Duck as culinary laboratory, playground, and stage. One classic recipe to emerge from his creative kitchen is “Meat Fruit”. Oh yes, Heston Blumenthal is also known for using Thermomix.

The popular Meat Fruit  — which celebrates historic British fare served c.1500, using  meats to replicate the different components of a (faux) fruit bowl. The Meat Fruit bowl was featured on a television series (Heston’s Medieval Feasts), and its Mandarin component (£12.50) now heads the starter menu at London’s newly opened Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

Mandarin Meat Fruit Recipe by Heston Blumenthal made with Thermomix

A recent review of Dinner by Guardian writer Matthew Fort said this about the Mandarin Meat Fruit:

What you’re served looks to all intents and purposes like a glossy tangerine, complete with brilliant green stalk and leaves. You break the skin – actually, mandarin jelly of great refinement – to find perfect chicken liver parfait, subtle, supple, rich in the way that millionaires used to be rich, with elegant and understated good taste.

And in the Guardian’s video review of the restaurant (which also includes a brief explanation of Meat Fruit by Heston), Tony Naler called the Mandarin Meat Fruit “incredibly light, incredibly Moorish at the same time… incredibly intensely flavoured”. “Bizarrely,” he says, “you could eat this all day.”

In a review for The Londonist, Ben Norum says this:

The obligatory Meat Fruit kicked things off with a fanfare and a cheeky wink, with the most unctuously, yet subtly, rich chicken liver parfait we’ve ever tasted donning a thin jelly shell and masquerading as a mandarin. It wasn’t all for show, either. The citrus casing cut through the velvety creaminess in a way that is tempting to liken to a savoury Terry’s Chocolate Orange, though this probably doesn’t do it justice.

Having now made the Mandarin Meat Fruit in my Thermomix kitchen, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a fun, festive, quietly seductive savoury treat. Consider yourselves warned. Mandarin Meat Fruit is quite possibly the “bad boy” of molecular gastronomic fare. Pretty on the outside but hiding a sly secret inside. Impossible to resist. Demands to be devoured and leaves you wanting more.

Heston Blumenthal inspired Meat Fruit MandarinsSo on discovering the mandarin Meat Fruit recipe on the Guardian website recently,  I was surprised and inspired. (The nervousness at taking on such an onerous  recipe came later.) I quickly read through the recipe and determined that, even though we are forewarned about Mandarin Meat Fruit requiring the better part of a week to execute, it would all be straightforward. Hey — Heston uses a Thermomix, and I have a Thermomix — so it must be straightforward, right?

Reality sets in. There can be a great difference between reading a recipe and following it through to a successful serving. Though the Guardian’s recipe seemed straightforward enough,  I was fully up to my waist in ingredients (mostly alcoholic) before I realized the recipe didn’t specify how long to cook the meat, nor at what temperature to set the oven, or how exactly to make the fruit puree. Plus I had chosen to add the challenge of finding common domestic substitutions for Heston’s more professional tools: the sous-vide machine and blow torch. And, I planned to use the Thermomix for a few more applications than specified. Heston uses the Thermomix only once: for blending the liver ingredients. My version uses Thermomix for preparing marinade, pre-cooking the livers, blending the parfait, cooking the mandarin puree, blending the gelatin, preparing the jelly and re-warming the jelly.

For reasons of frugality, I also substituted two of the four bottles of alcohol required. With all due respect to Heston, I am too frugal to buy two kinds of port, and Madeira, plus brandy. Since the purpose of this recipe’s alcohol is solely to create a reduction, I chose to compromise and make do with what was at hand (substitutions are shown below).

Heston Meat Fruit Mandarin Thermomix Recipe

Simply, more fun. Heston’s in-house recipe uses a combination of foie-gras and chicken livers for the parfait filling. On Heston’s recommendation this was reduced to simply chicken livers for preparation by home cooks when published in the Guardian. After successfully completed it once (with modifications and some second guessing)  I found that in terms of time and techniques required it was somewhat prohibitive for the average cook.  So with all due respect to dear Heston I have adjusted his recipe further so that even more Thermomix fans can enjoy making Mandarin Meat Fruit at home. (This recipe is so flavourful and fun, it deserves to be made and enjoyed by many!) From personal experience I believe this final ‘recipe reduction’ upholds the flavours and textures of the dish without compromising its outcome. The creamy, seductive liver parfait interior and outer mandarin jelly skin may not be as exquisitely perfect as when made by Heston’s hand, but close enough. The result was smooth and flavourful enough to make make dinner guests swoon while being whimsical enough to delight all.

Plan ahead. There are three parts to this recipe. The liver parfait interior is prepared first and must be frozen in domed moulds before proceeding. A coating of fruity gelatine is applied to frozen parfait. This requires that you have prepared a mandarin puree in advance. After the mandarin (liver) balls are covered in orange gelatin they will need to thaw before serving. By following Heston’s recipe, the process takes upwards of four days to complete. My version below allows you to set the pace: it can be completed in as little as two days, or you can extend the time between freezing the parfait and coating it, to suit your schedule.

Meat Fruit Recipe Marinade

Meat Fruit Mandarin

Liver Parfait
This recipe makes two terrines (of about 700 ml each) from which you can make about 10 meat mandarins, depending on the size of your moulds. Special equipment needed: dome-shaped molds or small silicone pinch bowls, thermometer for testing inner temperature of the parfait.

100 g shallots, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
15 g sprigs of thyme, tied with string
150g dry Madeira (I used Marsala)
150  g ruby port
75 g white port (I used ruby port)
50 g brandy
1 Tbsp. table salt
400 g chicken livers (trimmed weight)
240 g eggs (I used 5 large eggs)
300g unsalted butter (cut into chunks, and warmed to room temp.)

  • Day 1: turn on Thermomix to speed 6 and drop garlic on running blades, quickly add the shallots and turn off the machine immediately. Add the alcohol and thyme. Set aside to marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.
    Later on Day 1 or early on Day 2: Return the shallot/thyme marinade to the Thermomix bowl and cook  with measuring cap off for 25 minutes/Varoma/REVERSE/soft stir, to reduce until “nearly all the liquid has evaporated”.  Timing may vary slightly depending on the temperature of your marinade at start. (The original recipe is vague about how much liquid should remain after reduction.) Discard thyme. (Remove any thyme stems that may have become disengaged from the bundle. It’s okay to have a few leaves in the mix, but not stems.)
  • Add chicken livers and salt to remaining marinade. Blend for 2 minutes/speed 8. Scrape the contents down sides of bowl with spatula. Add eggs and blend 30 seconds/speed 8. Add butter and process 4 minutes/50°C/gradually increasing to speed 10. (This is a good time to pre-heat the oven and prepare the bain-marie.)
  • Divide the liver purée into 2 terrine dishes, place into a bain-marie (water bath), cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes at 150°C/300°F or until centre reaches 64°C/148°F. Allow to cool. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  • Once thoroughly chilled use a spoon or spatula to fill dome moulds with parfait, ensuring there is enough pressure to create a completely smooth surface. Level off the tops so that they are flat, and cover with clingfilm. Gently press the clingfilm directly onto the surface of the parfait. Place in the freezer until completely frozen.

How to make Meat Fruit with Thermomix
Fruit Purée

500 g. fresh mandarin oranges (skins and seeds removed)
100 g. water or juice (to enhance colour use orange, mango, guava, or a blended juice)

  • (You can make the purée on the first day and refrigerate, or make it on the second day prior to preparing the jelly.) Put mandarin pieces into Thermomix bowl and chop 5 seconds/speed 4.
  • Add water or juice and cook 30 minutes/100°C/slow stir.
  • Purée for 30 seconds/speed 8. Store in fridge or proceed to jelly preparation.

Mandarin Jelly

45 g leaf gelatine (I used regular Dr. Oetkers, nothing fancy, needs 4.5 packages)
500 g mandarin purée
80 g glucose (I substituted corn syrup)
optional for enhancing the purée: 4 drops mandarin oil, 1/4 tsp. paprika, large pinch saffron

  • Place the gelatine in a large bowl of cold water to “bloom” or soften. Separate the leaves gently to ensure thorough blooming. (Learn more about how to use gelatine from this excellent explanation from Madalene at British Pantry)
  • Gently warm mandarin purée in Thermomix bowl for a few minutes at 37°C on slow stir. Add the glucose and keep slow stirring at 37°C  until gelatine is ready. Add gelatine to the purée and blend gently for about 40 seconds/37°C/REVERSE/speed 2-3 to combine. If using optional ingredients add these now and stir for additional few seconds.
  • Pass the mix through a fine sieve and reserve in the fridge until required. (It will solidify in the fridge but don’t worry, it will be melted again later.)

    how to make heston fat duck meat fruit

    click to see brief video demo of this process on YouTube

Assembly of the meat fruits: (special equipment required: skewers)

  • Gently unmould the parfait domes. Here, Heston warms the flat surfaces with a blow torch. If you don’t have a blow torch you can warm the surface by inverting the dome onto a slightly warmed pan or baking sheet. It’s important to do this gently and carefully so as to just barely melt the surface of the parfait. Join two halves together and compress. If warm parfait squeezes out the middle, use a spatula or pastry knife to trim it clean. Wrap well in clingfilm and place back in the freezer.
  • Heat a metal skewer on the stove and gently push into each frozen fruit. As you remove the hot skewer, quickly insert  a wooden cocktail stick or skewer in it’s place and re-wrap and refreeze until all the parfaits are complete. (If you have enough metal skewers, you may not need to use wooden sticks.)
  • Now it’s time to melt the mandarin jelly by warming it to about 37°C. You can do this by heating gently on the stove, or by warming in Thermomix on REVERSE, slow stir for a few minutes till melted. Allow jelly to cool to room temperature. The Guardian says, “Remove the clingfilm and dip each ball of parfait into the jelly and stand the sticks, covered in clingfilm, into a piece of Oasis (the green material you get in florist shops to help the flowers stand up). Place in the fridge for a minute, then repeat the dipping process.” (I did not apply the cling film between layers of jelly and it didn’t seem to make a difference…)
    >> click to see a brief video demonstration of this process
  • Dip three times, and when set, gently remove sticks. Place balls onto a tray covered in clingfilm. Place a lid over the tray and set in the fridge to thaw before serving, approx. 6 hours.
  • Once thawed, gently press on the top of each ball with thumb to create the indented “collar’ shape of a mandarin. Add a stem and leaf to complete the fruit and… voila!

Want more?

See 44 comments from people who cook with Thermomix:

  1. avatar
    Lori 18 February 2011 at 9:04 pm (PERMALINK)

    Helene they look magnificent. Bravo!

    I love watching Heston on television, but had assumed his amazing creations were far beyond what could be achieved in the domestic kitchen. Thank you for sharing your method and inspiring us home cooks to give it a try!

    Author
  2. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 18 February 2011 at 9:30 pm (PERMALINK)

    Oh believe me Lori, it was my pleasure!!! I’m as pleased as you are to learn that such a recipe is doable by home cooks. Thanks to Thermomix for making it possible ;-)

    Author
  3. avatar
    Jo @ Quirky Cooking 19 February 2011 at 1:42 am (PERMALINK)

    This is AMAZING!!! You are just too clever, Helene!!! My 7 yr old girl was looking at the recipe with me and she said, “Yum! I want to eat it!’ I agree!!! (I know, not really food for 7 yr olds, but it looks so good!)

    Author
  4. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 19 February 2011 at 5:32 am (PERMALINK)

    It was fun to do Jo. (Not so clever, just obsessively persistent!) I wish you lived close by… I have several Mandarin Meat Fruit in the fridge here today and would love to put one in the hands of your daughter… (no worries about the alcohol, it’s virtually gone when all is said and done.) Cheers,

    Author
  5. avatar
    Mara 19 February 2011 at 7:54 am (PERMALINK)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much Helene. Just as you’re inspired by Blumenthal, I’m inspired by you. I am going to try these in a much more cheating way: I’m going to fill the mandarins with a frozen orange-chocolate mousse and serve as a dessert. I’ll try to send a picture.
    Again, thanks a bunch. It’s such fun and such a delight to follow this blog. You’d be surprised to know how it boosts my mood when I find there’s a new entry in it!
    PS: lucky for me, I got a torch for Christmas this year

    Author
  6. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 19 February 2011 at 9:22 am (PERMALINK)

    Oh Mara – Thanks for your very kind words. It took weeks to get this recipe tweaked so it could be done more easily with Thermomix, so I’m glad to know someone is reading the blog!

    I like your idea of using this technique with a frozen dessert but it makes me nervous to think of it. Hmmm. The frozen orange chocolate mousse will likely melt, whereas the liver parfait remains solid when thawed. If you return your balls to the freezer after coating in mandarin jelly they will turn white… not so pretty. You need the inner part to be stable when thawed in the fridge. This sounds like a good challenge for you Mara — I’m going to sit back and watch this time ;-)

    Author
  7. avatar
    Tracey 19 February 2011 at 10:03 am (PERMALINK)

    Oh Helene…at first I thought seriously, meat fruit, I’d rather fruit meat…and then I read on. Your statement “There can be a great difference between reading a recipe and following it through to a successful serving” is a profound understatement when it comes to the fine art of cooking and you are indeed an artist! Looking forward to your fine creation tonight.

    Author
  8. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 19 February 2011 at 10:26 am (PERMALINK)

    Hi Tracey — you are one of my favourite cooks and I have full confidence in your discerning palate. You will enjoy Heston’s Meat Fruit for sure!

    Author
  9. avatar
    Gretchen 19 February 2011 at 12:51 pm (PERMALINK)

    OMG what a challenge. You are one crazy gal to do this all TWICE just for fun!!! Iam exhausted just reading the trouble you took to get it right. I am sure you must have tasted all that booze to make sure it was right as well. How are you feeling?

    I have a bottle of Mandarin Napoleon in the bar which I might substitute for the Brandy so why not give it a go.

    This is a special gift from you Helene to all us Thermomix fans and we really appreciate it.

    Guests coming next week so I must get started. I hope I can find some leaf gelatine in this town.

    Author
  10. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 19 February 2011 at 1:14 pm (PERMALINK)

    Hi Gretchen — Well, I was intending to do the recipe just once but soon discovered it could be ‘improved’ to make it easier for Thermomix fans, so one thing led to another and yes, the lovely ruby port did help me along the way. (Just looking at the minced shallots in that deep red port makes me feel warm and fuzzy…) Oh you will have fun making and serving this for guests. I suggest you prepare it to completion before they arrive, so less stress that way. The Mandarin Meat Fruit can easily stay in the fridge for at least a week, after thawing. (I say this because I am still now eating some of my first batch which has been in the fridge for almost too long… I suppose the booze does help preserve it all, despite how reduced it is…)

    As we know you are the queen of Thermomix Liver Paté. In truth, the ‘parfait’ center of the mandarin is not much different from yours, but still, I wanted to use Heston’s technique as much as possible, while keeping it easy. I was lucky to find silicone pinch bowls at the second-hand shop, as this is the most specialized equipment you will need. It’s always fun to try something new with Thermomix and I think you will enjoy playing with this recipe. – H.

    Author
  11. avatar
    Cookie1 20 February 2011 at 12:17 am (PERMALINK)

    Helene I am lost for words. These are utterly amazing. Congratulations. I saw the swhow when Heston B made these and loved it. Sadly I won’t be attempting them as we are not lovers of liver in any shape or form.
    Clever lady.

    Author
  12. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 20 February 2011 at 1:16 am (PERMALINK)

    Thanks for much for commenting Cookie1, even though your family has no enthusiasm for liver… You are not alone in your feelings so (as I find time…) I will experiment with other pate ideas to see what kind of alternative we can come up with. “Where there’s a will and a Thermomix, there’s a way!” Cheers, H.

    Author
  13. avatar
    A Canadian Foodie 20 February 2011 at 1:52 am (PERMALINK)

    Are you out of your mind? YES!!!! ANd I am SOOOO in awe. This is INCREDIBLE – and because of your instructions and tweeking, now I can do it UN-FRIGGIN-BELIEVABLE.
    XO
    Valerie

    Author
  14. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 20 February 2011 at 11:40 am (PERMALINK)

    Glad you enjoyed it Valerie. Since you have a sous-vide machine, you might be best to tackle the original recipe from the Guardian head on. I expect that after doing this recipe just once, you’ll be ready to add it to your schedule of fun and popular cooking classes! WooHOO!

    Author
  15. avatar
    Madame Thermomix 21 February 2011 at 6:38 am (PERMALINK)

    Helene you are as mad as Heston, and we love you for it! I can’t wait to have two full days to make these… better than four days, though, so thanks for doing all the hard work for us. I saw the meat fruit on the original “Heston’s Medieval Feast” and I can’t wait to see your video or slideo of this recipe. Thanks again for your brilliant work!

    Author
  16. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 21 February 2011 at 9:58 am (PERMALINK)

    Oh thank you Madame, I take your comment of being “mad” as a compliment, and I think you would have done the same thing. Imagine finding a potentially do-able Heston recipe and not trying it out — impossible! I am hoping to do a proper slideo but truthfully, not sure when I’ll get around to it as I realize now, after the fact, that I don’t have photos for all the steps. I did however just upload a short YouTube video clip about applying the mandarin “skin” to the frozen liver parfait balls.Cheers!

    Author
  17. avatar
    Mara 21 February 2011 at 10:47 am (PERMALINK)

    Now I’m concerned about the melting issue you mentioned. Still, I’ll give it a try with some further tweaking and report. Thanks for the heads up.

    Author
  18. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 21 February 2011 at 2:03 pm (PERMALINK)

    Good Mara — I hoped not to dissuade you from trying, but to give you a cautionary “heads up.” — Good luck!

    Author
  19. avatar
    Tebasile 22 February 2011 at 2:38 pm (PERMALINK)

    Wow Helene….this is….you are amazing!!!

    Author
  20. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 22 February 2011 at 4:19 pm (PERMALINK)

    Aw thanks Tebasile, but I am not amazing… anyone can do this — really! Would like to figure out a vegetarian version. That’s next!

    Author
  21. avatar
    Tebasile 22 February 2011 at 8:24 pm (PERMALINK)

    Helene, i’m going to try a vegan and vegetarian version :-)

    Author
  22. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 23 February 2011 at 10:08 am (PERMALINK)

    Great Tebasile, I had some ideas about this too. Should be interesting, especially to make the gelatin coating without using gelatin — such fun to play with Thermomix!

    Author
  23. avatar
    Gabe 18 April 2011 at 5:13 pm (PERMALINK)

    Is this what meat does at costume parties?

    Author
  24. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 18 April 2011 at 6:47 pm (PERMALINK)

    Ho Ho Gabe, you made me laugh right out loud. (Thanks, I needed that!) Absolutely, this is how the humble chicken liver does itself up for the masquerade gala ball!

    Author
  25. avatar
    nick 20 April 2011 at 3:17 am (PERMALINK)

    I wouldn’t call the Meatfruit molecular gastronomy as such, just a bit of fun food theatre.

    Author
  26. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 24 April 2011 at 1:29 pm (PERMALINK)

    Hi Nick — you are right. Can we agree that Heston’s Meatfruit is a bit of fun play for those who want to be molecular gastronomes? As such I would suggest it’s a fun introduction to the concept of technically-assisted manipulation of food, and one that might lead to more serious pursuits. Cheers and thanks for taking time to join the conversation here!

    Author
  27. avatar
    Inke Cronjé 5 July 2011 at 5:09 am (PERMALINK)

    wow im sooo tryin tis @ home!!!! ^_^

    Author
  28. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 5 July 2011 at 5:25 pm (PERMALINK)

    Good for you — it’s a VERY rewarding recipe and I’m sure you will have fun. I’m not sure who is most impressed by it though… the one who cooks it, or those who are merely served the Meat Fruit ;-)

    Author
  29. avatar
    Nay-nay 28 November 2011 at 6:27 pm (PERMALINK)

    You are sooo clever!

    Author
  30. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 29 November 2011 at 10:21 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks Nay nay, but I’m only interpreting his recipe.. Now to think up such a thing from scratch… yowzah! ;-)

    Author
  31. avatar
    EMMY 1 August 2012 at 6:53 pm (PERMALINK)

    This is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Could you use any other meat than chicken liver??

    Author
  32. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 2 August 2012 at 8:53 pm (PERMALINK)

    Hmmmm Emmy…. great question! I will have to think about that! Chicken liver really lends itself to this recipe because it is so smooth. I suppose any kind of liver would work but not sure about flavours. Have I mentioned that last time I made this I didn’t use any alcohol at all? I can’t remember exactly but I think I’ve now done it with cheery juice and once with prune juice and perhaps grape juice instead of port. Much cheaper and just as good ;-)

    Author
  33. avatar
    Tim Maitland 15 August 2012 at 4:47 pm (PERMALINK)

    Wow using the thermomix is such a great idea!

    I do a slightly more simplified version of Meat Fruit – almost certainly not quite as good a texture but it only takes 2 days start to finish.. Take a look here:

    http://www.thetastyskicompany.co.uk/blog/food/heston-blumenthals-meat-fruit/

    All the best,

    Tim

    Author
  34. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 15 August 2012 at 8:05 pm (PERMALINK)

    Hi Tim – I enjoyed seeing the great photo instructions on your blog for this. If you read through the text above the recipe here, I think you’ll see it says this recipe can be done in two days. I give folks the option of spreading it out over four days just in case they want/need to fit this recipe into a busy schedule, or festive time when there is so much to do. I usually prefer to make if over two days too because then we can start to serve and enjoy those mandarins all the sooner ;-)

    Author
  35. avatar
    Justine 28 September 2012 at 5:55 am (PERMALINK)

    Wow! Your meat fruit looks unbelievable! Thank you for a fun read and the very clear instructions. This might be a holiday recipe for when I have a spare day or three to make it! ;-)

    Author
  36. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 1 October 2012 at 11:25 pm (PERMALINK)

    What is that saying… something about … “even an elephant can be eaten one bite at a time”…? I have made this recipe several times now and each time it feels less fussy and more fun than the last. Really, it’s all about staying calm, cool, and collected and knowing that even if they don’t look perfect, they’ll taste great and be a hit!

    Author

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