Look at the title of this post… I couldn’t bring myself to put all three of those words into one sentence. Actually, thinking about it now conjures up some Soylent Green images… pretty disturbing, even for me.
You know what Wylie Dufresne says about vegetarians? “Everyone’s allowed to make really bad mistakes now and then…”
I have to admit… I made that mistake. Sadly, for about two years during my highschool hard core straight edge phase I was not only vegetarian… but VEGAN. I’m glad that I’ve since come to my senses.
All that said, every now and then veggies make sense. I’m even starting to agree with Jose Andres who says veggies are often more exciting than proteins. So I had this idea strike me this week… Hollow out a potato, cook it sous vide, and fill the center with something that resembles marrow. The finished dish became vegetarian bone marrow (filled with red lentil puree), sundried tomato-guajillo chile-coffee-pecan pesto, and braised red kale with caramelized onions. Sound good? It was… Here’s the recipe.
1st thing: Get your Immersion circulator up and running set to 85 Celsius. Then start the pesto.
For the Pesto:
~10 Sundried tomatoes (dry not packed in oil).
1 guajillo chili, stemmed and torn.
1 handful pecans.
2 cloves of garlic.
1 cup fresh hot coffee … see bonus coffee recipe!
3 tblspn olive oil.
Salt to taste.
Start by hydrating the chili and tomatoes with the hot coffee. I used a vacuum chamber to speed the process up but in hindsight this is kind of un-necessary. Make sure your coffee covers the dried goods.
While we’re on the topic of coffee… it’s a LOVE of mine! I use an aero press at work, but at home I’ve got a bit more time… I use a vacuum pot. It’s the BEST way to make coffee… it’s perfect every time, with every bean. My coffee to water ratio is 53 grams of whole beans to 8 cups/1050 grams of BOTTLED water.
The beauty of the vacuum pot is that when the water is hot enough, it goes into the top chamber, when extraction is perfect, it flows back down through the filter into the bottom. As soon as most of the water is in the top section (it bubbles rapidly) remove from heat and allow the coffee to drain back down.
Finished coffee and remaining grounds. Oh, by the way- you should always grind beans RIGHT BEFORE you intend to use them in a Burr Grinder… use that old bladed grinder for spices.
So the only way that you can jack up this coffee method is to use crappy beans or crappy water. Bottled water is easy enough, as for beans… if you’re SERIOUS about coffee you can roast your own. I don’t trust myself that much, so I stock up on Stumptown Coffee everytime I’m in Portland… New Yorkers, there’s one in the city too!
Coffee: Done… hydrate the chilis. While you wait, you can grind up some pecans in your mortar and pestal.
Set those nuts aside, grind the garlic and salt into a smooth paste. then add the chilis and grind to a slightly chunky texture…
Lazy? pulse it in the food processer until it all resembles a pesto. If needed, thin the mix out a bit with some of the coffee used to re-hydrate the tomatoes and chili.
While the chilis were rehydrating, I got the potatoes started.
For the Potato:
1 peeled Potato.
Start by cutting the potato into about 1 1/2″ slices.
Use a pairing knife to square off the outer edge of the rounds… you’re looking to remove as much of the taper as possible… this is simply to more closely mimic the look of a marrow bone.
Next, use a pairing knife to CAREFULLY cut out the centers of the potato… you could use a ring mold to cut the centers out but I like the slightly uneven look.
Season the rings (inside and out) and place the cores back into the holes.
Vacuum pack and circulate for 40 minutes at 85 degrees celsius. Try to make sure each round is seperate while sealing, cooking will be more even and quicker this way.
After 40 minutes, remove the potatoes from the water bath and vacuum bag. Use a torch to brulee the sides and top of the potato rounds BEFORE removing the cores… Wanna know what to do with the cores? TASTE THEM! See if the potato needs any seasoning… BTW- this is my first time cooking potatoes Sous Vide… they were incredible! the most potato-ey tasting potatoes ever. I think 85C will be a new favorite setting of mine!
While the potatoes are cooking (after you’ve made the pesto) — welcome to the world of multi-tasking– Start the kale. You should start this around 15 minutes before your potatoes are done.
For the Kale.
1 medium onion, sliced.
1 head of red kale, trimmed of stems.
2 cloves of garlic.
1 tblspn olive oil.
2 dried jap chilis.
1 Cup Vegetable stock.
salt/pepper to taste.
Brown the onions and chilis. Medium heat, cold pan, salt and pepper.
While those are sweating/browning, trim the kale… look how BEAUTIFUL it is! I’ve been seeing this in the grocery store for a few weeks now and have been looking for an excuse to buy and cook it!
Add the kale and garlic to the sauteed onions, stir to combine, and add the veg stock. reduce heat to med-low and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Now, on to the lentils. Why wait until now to start the lentils? Don’t they take at least half an hour to cook? Yes… but we’re going to pressure cook that shit. Here goes:
For the Lentils:
scraps from potatoes ~1/2 potato.
1 1/2 cup red lentils.
2 garlic cloves.
enough vegetable broth to cover by 3/4″
1 bay leaf.
2 cardomom pods.
1 tblspn butter. (Use Olive oil if you’re cooking for a stupid Vegan)
Salt/pepper to taste.**
**I used a two finger pinch of salt and about 5 grinds of black pepper.
Everyone in the pot, 6 minutes high pressure. Go!
When the 6 minutes is up, release the pressure and hit it with your stick blender.
So for this recipe, I thought I’d share my plating proceedure. Start with an oval shaped bed of the tomato pesto on the far right of a long rectangular plate.
The charred potato “marrow bones” go on top of the pesto.
Lentil puree into a ziplock… piped into the hollow centers of the potatoes. You could also fill the potatoes on your cutting board (with a spoon instead of a makeshift piping bag). If you choose to assemble the marrow bones on your board then just use an offest spatula to place them on the pesto bed.
Fill the potato holes, smooth over the tops with a small offset spatula, and hit the tops with the torch.
Next, the only plating tool my mother EVER used… chopsticks!
Make a row of the kale and fillout the rest of the plate.
A few grains of salt on top of the “marrow bones” and you’re done!
Boom. Done. Don’t expect too many more vegetarian recipes from me!