The six keys to making a perfect gazpacho, according to the head chef of the Horcher restaurant

The six keys to making a perfect gazpacho, according to the head chef of the Horcher restaurant

The thermometer begins to show itself with power at the end of May and the beginning of June. The early summer makes our cuisine becomes fresher and lighterleaving behind the powerful spoon stews but without giving it up.

So, soups and cold creams sneak into our recipe book with all its freshness. Soups such as salmorejo, ajoblanco, mazamorra, porra antequerana, vichysoisse and, of course, gazpacho, king of cold soups and a staple in our fridges when the heat is on.

As simple as it is rich, its ingredients could not be more humble and the result more spectacular: tomato, pepper, oil, vinegar, salt and, depending on the houses, garlic, cucumber or cumin.

Today we sneak into the kitchens of the Horcher restaurant in Madrid, a family classic of the highest restoration with more than 80 years behind it. An icon where good work in the dining room and in the kitchen has become the quality guarantee of one of those restaurants that are classified as tables of power.

Horcher’s main hall © Horcher Restaurant

Reference to great poultry and magnificent game such as truffled grain chicken Bonne Femme or the loin of venison roasted naturally, including other icons such as the steak tartare or the Hungarian goulashimmovable icons of its menu along with desserts such as baumkuchen or tree cake, a sweet treat that is now also on your menu delivery under the name Horcher at home.

However, in his dining room gazpacho is also strained in season, taking advantage of the best tomatoes. He reveals his tricks to us and how we can take our gazpacho one point above Miguel Hermann, the restaurant’s head chef.

1. The moment of the vegetable

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“We use a seasonal vine tomato, which is very red and very aromatic“, explains Miguel. This is the reason why the dish is only on the menu when this tomato is available. “The rest of the year it does not have that flavor or smell, but in summer it is in perfect condition,” he says, debunking the myth of needing tomatoes of a special quality for a gazpacho.

“The key is that are ripe, not very meaty and not kept in the fridge“, he reasons. Along with the tomato, a few other ingredients from the garden and in small quantities. “We only add a couple of green peppers and 3/4 of a red pepper. Neither garlic, nor cucumber, “she specifies.” Before, we did add garlic, but it was so little that it was not even noticeable when removing it. What we have never added is cucumber, onion or cumin because they add too much flavor,” she adds.

Also, the tomato we crush it with skin but remove the root and cut it into three or four pieces“, he clarifies. “In the end, we grind the mixture in an industrial blender for almost an hour, so you won’t notice whether they have skin or not,” he tells us.

The result is a gazpacho that more than a cold soup is a creamwith intense orange touches more than red and which owes a lot to olive oil.

2. A good oil and a good vinegar

Oil

For a salad, it is usually said that a good dressing should be one that is generous with the oil, stingy with the vinegar and fair with the salt. For gazpacho, more or less the same thing happens and in Horcher the oil becomes the fundamental protagonist.

For each batch of gazpacho they need about 5 kilos of tomato and about 750ml of olive oil. “It is necessary to use a good olive oil because it will be very important in the dish and in the preparation. Actually what we do is emulsify the oil with the tomato because we grind the mixture for a long time“, he argues.

“Besides, with the heat that reaches the industrial blender [en casa podemos usar la Thermomix u otro robot de cocina] the oil and the crushed tomato emulsify better, giving that creamy consistency,” he explains. If we bet on the domestic version, 10 or 12 minutes of Thermomix at maximum speed will be enough.

Horcher

Miguel Hermann, head chef at Horcher.

“We get about 10 liters of gazpacho for every 5 kilos of tomato, so at home it could be replaced by a kilo and a half of tomatoes and proportionally reduce the amounts of oil, peppers and vinegar,” he clarifies.

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As a climax, remember that you should also use a good vinegar. “We do it with sherry vinegar, that is aromatic but has the power to counteract the natural sweetness of the ripe tomato“, account, but always being cautious with this measure.

3. The bread trick

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Horcher’s gazpacho successfully fluctuates between a cream, a salmorejo and a gazpacho, having parts of all of them and making it a top seller of your letter. “In season, more than 50% of diners order gazpacho as a starter,” he says. It is served in two options: the Horcher gazpacho, with lobster and salmon roe, and the gazpacho with vegetables. Two identical paths that only differ in the final addition.

“There are many people who do not use bread in gazpacho but we do it because that way we thicken it a little more“, he comments. “We shouldn’t overdo it because we could weigh it down too much, but we do add several pieces of bread that we work with in the restaurant,” he confirms.

“It’s a bread with a fluffy, dense crumb, and we also use the crust. We hydrate everything for about 10 or 12 minutes, drain it slightly and add it to the mixture“, he remarks. With this, more texture and unctuousness are obtained, which will give more body to this tomato cream that maintains a liquid point thanks to the next step.

4. Thorough filtering

Strainer

We could say that in the school of gazpacho, beyond the ingredients, there are two well-differentiated currents: those who bet on the tropezones and those who bet on a gazpacho without them.

In the case of Horcher, the bump does not exist in this tomato cream. “We grind the mixture for a long time and then we pass it through a very fine chinoisleaving the few remains of skins that remain in the strainer”, adds Miguel Hermann. A symbol of identity in a house characterized by the clarity of its sauces and broths, such as its famous clarified consommé.

“It’s a simple dish but the pots are cooked over a very low heat for more than two days with a very gentle boil and we clarify it with the meat and with the egg white,” he reasons. Apparently simple dishes but also with a lot of work behind.

5. Garnish time

vegetables

The fact that cucumber or onion are not used in the base of the gazpacho does not mean that they are not part of the end. “We serve two options: the Horcher, which is the one we accompany with salmon and lobster roe, and the vegetable one, with various vegetable accompaniments“.

“The one that is most successful is the Horcher, because the point of the cooked blue lobsterwhich is tender, and the salmon roe add a touch of salinity and flavor that goes very well with the gazpacho”, he adds. “On the other hand, there is the vegetable one, presenting several vegetables and ingredients that can be added in raw to gazpacho”.

“There is onion, there is cucumber, there is green pepper, there is tomato and there is also a hard-boiled egg,” he lists. “All this is minced separately into a very fine brunoise and is available to the customer. Of course, always pampering each product to the maximum; the onion is washed and drained with cold water to reduce its strength, the cucumber is skinless and seedless and the tomato is a tomato concasséseeded and peeled,” he adds.

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6. The importance of temperature

Horcher

Refreshing dish where there are, gazpacho happens like good wine and it is that we should not go too cold to enjoy it. “It should be a dish that is eaten fresh but should not be frozen. We serve it at about 6º because that way you can appreciate the flavor but also that freshness,” he recommends.

In the same way that it is important that the tomato was not in the fridge or that the oil is not cold, the same thing happens to the final result. “That’s why, if we have it in the fridge at home, it is better to temper it a few minutes before serving it and not put it on the table directly from the refrigerator,” he points out.

This is a new version of an article originally published on May 28, 2020.

Images | iStock/JumpStory/Horcher Restaurant/Pixabay
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