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The 10 toughest dishes in the world

By Rebecca Davies
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Some recipes are just impossible to master, so we've decided to kindly share our cheat's versions of some of the most difficult dishes in the world. Okay, so they're not strictly the same, but they're delicious nonetheless.

1. Consommé
Devilish dish: A clear soup made from meat, tomato, egg whites and stock, slowly simmered to bring impurities to the surface for skimming.

Techn-eeek: Even some of the most experienced chefs cannot master the complex clarification process required to make consommé.

Neat cheat: Simmer beef stock with celery, carrot and onion, strain and pour over seared sirloin steak, carrot ribbons and sliced shallots.

2. Turducken
Devilish dish: A whole turkey stuffed with duck, stuffed with chicken, hence the name tur(key)duck(chick)en.

Techn-eeek: Preparation is key, as smaller bones have to be removed without damaging the appearance of the birds. You also have to ensure the chicken is cooked but the turkey is not dry.

Neat cheat: Stuff a chicken with a mixture of turkey mince, sausage meat, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs, rub the skin with a little bit of duck fat and roast as normal.

3. Bearnaise sauce
Devilish dish: A tarragon-flavoured French sauce made from clarified butter, vinegar, shallots, egg yolks and herbs, often served with steak.

Techn-eeek: This sauce is made in a bain-marie (a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water), but if it gets too hot, the eggs will scramble and there is no turning back.

Neat cheat: Soften chopped shallots and garlic in butter, add peppercorns, fresh tarragon and a dash of white wine vinegar. Take off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche.

4. Baked alaska
Devilish dish: Ice-cream coated with sponge, topped with delicate meringue and baked.

Techn-eeek: The trick of this dish is placing it in a very hot oven for long enough to ensure that the meringue is firm but the ice cream inside is not melted.

Neat cheat: Make your own sponge cake, take out of the oven and top with vanilla ice-cream and crushed meringue pieces.

5. Croissants
Devilish dish: Pastries made from dough layered with butter and seen on every breakfast table across France.

Techn-eeek: To make perfect croissants, you have to work the dough slowly and patiently let it rest more than once to achieve the light, flaky pastry.

Neat cheat: Thaw frozen puff pastry, brush with melted butter and bake until golden, adding either grated chocolate or cheese and ham halfway through.

6. Soufflé
Devilish dish: A fluffy, baked egg dish that looks as beautiful and light as it tastes, deriving from the French "to puff up" (exactly what it should do in the oven).

Techn-eeek: The most difficult thing about making a soufflé is whisking enough air into the egg whites, to ensure that it rises in the oven and doesn't collapse afterwards.

Neat cheat: Whisk eggs until fluffy and foamy, add various grated cheeses and pour into greased muffin tins. Bake until risen and cooked in the middle.

7. Macarons
Devilish dish: Not to be confused with macaroon biscuits, these are meringue-based, fragile confectioneries.

Techn-eeek: To make these delicate desserts, you have to separate the egg whites and yolks and then carry out a long baking process that could see them raw inside or burnt on the outside.

Neat cheat: Beat 120g softened butter with 4 tablespoons of honey and 4 tablespoons of icing sugar. Add a drop of red food colouring and spread between two ready-made mini meringues.

8. Beef wellington
Devilish dish: Fillet steak coated with pate, mushrooms, a pancake and puff pastry.

Techn-eeek: It is fiddly to wrap this dish and also difficult to cook it and ensure that the beef is rare in the middle but the pastry is golden brown.

Neat cheat: Chop and dust steak with flour, fry in oil until browned. Slow-cook in red wine with garlic, mushroom and onion, then top with puff pastry and bake until golden.

9. Chile en nogada
Devilish dish: Poblano chillies stuffed with spiced, minced meat and then topped with a walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.

Techn-eeek: Chile en nogada is a slow process. Traditionally, Mexican cooks started roasting peppers, washing nuts and infusing meat days in advance.

Neat cheat: Fry pork mince with onion, garlic, chilli and cinnamon. Spoon into halved red capsicums, top with raisins and almonds and bake slowly.

10. Galantine
Devilish dish: De-boned meat that's stuffed, poached, coated with savoury jelly and served cold.

Techn-eeek: It is very time-consuming and actually got its name from the French word galant, which means "sophisticated in a lavish way".

Neat cheat: Mix chopped bacon, shallots, pistachios and dried apricots with a few drops of sherry and a dash of cream. Roll in flattened chicken breast, secure with stick and bake until cooked through.

Have you tried one of these dishes? What are your tips for a successful dish? What is the hardest dish you've ever made?

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