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Deconstructed Oyster Stew

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Ingredients

Flourless Oyster Tonarelli

150 grams oyster juice

5 grams oysters

3 grams kosher salt

2 grams garlic

3 grams agar agar

1 gram lota Carrageenan

150 grams heavy cream

Molten Polenta Fritter

185 grams cooked polenta (previously cooked in water and salt)

125 grams cold milk

1 gram lota Carrageenan

25 grams room temperature butter

1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 eggs, whisked with water for egg wash

1 cup ground polenta

Crystallized Onion and Leek Rings

5 red pearl onions, sliced in thin rings

1 small leek, sliced in thin rings

200 grams water

100 grams sugar

Leek Purée

500 grams leeks, whites and greens, sliced lengthwise

30 grams parsley leaves

1.5 gallons water

1 tablespoon kosher salt, as needed

5 grams baking soda

210 grams cream

45 grams butter

7 grams kosher salt

10 grams hot sauce

Benton's Bacon Froth

275 grams Benton’s bacon, diced small

200 grams smoked Vidalia onion, diced small

4 grams garlic, minced

200 grams chicken stock

3 grams black peppercorns

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 fresh bay leaf

1 star anise

Tempura Batter

100 grams rice flour, plus extra for dredging

125 grams vodka, ice cold

1 pinch Old Bay Seasoning

Half cluster of trimmed Mepkin Abby Oyster Mushrooms, in small pieces

Virgin olive oil, for frying

Sea salt

Froth Assembly

150 grams skim milk

150 grams bacon stock

2 grams sucro

Lemon oil, reserved for plating

Directions

Flourless Oyster Ronarelli

  1. Lightly spray a half sheet pan with vegetable oil, then line the pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.
  2. Puree the first four ingredients in blender. Gradually add the agar-agar and iota carrageenan.
  3. Continue to puree until emulsified. Strain the puree through a chinois or cheesecloth.
  4. In a saucepot combine the heavy cream and oyster puree. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking occasionally for two minutes.
  5. Pour the cooked purée onto the lined sheet tray spreading as evenly as possible. Cool to room temperature and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  6. With a sharp knife, slice the oyster into long Tonarelli “pasta.” Reserve cold.

Molten Polenta Fritter

  1. In a small pot, add the iota carrageenan to the cold milk and whisk it together. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes at a high simmer.
  2. Add the butter and whisk into the milk. Gradually whisk in the cooked polenta and heat through. Season to taste with salt and hot sauce.
  3. Spoon the hot polenta into molds and let it chill completely, about 2 hours.
  4. Carefully bread each fritter with flour, egg wash, and ground polenta, then repeat with egg wash and polenta. Reserve cold until ready to fry.

Crystalized Onion and Leek Rings

  1. Wash onion and leek rings. Soak in ice water for thirty minutes. Drain.
  2. Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the rings and return to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the rings to steep for one minute. Drain and pat dry.
  3. Carefully arrange the rings on baking sheet. Dehydrate rings in a 140-degree oven for three hours until crystallized. Store rings in an airtight container.

Leek Puree

  1. Fill a large pot with 1.5 gallons of water and bring to a boil. Add kosher salt and baking soda. Blanch the leeks by cooking for two minutes and shocking in an ice bath. Drain and set aside. Repeat blanching with parsley for 10 seconds.
  2. In a small pot, heat the cream and butter until they are hot to the touch. Using a blender, purée the leeks, parsley, butter, and cream until smooth. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve and season with 7g salt and 10g hot sauce.

Tempura Batter

  1. In a bowl whisk first three ingredients together and set in refrigerator until ready to fry.
  2. Lightly dredge mushrooms in rice flour.
  3. Fill a small pot halfway with virgin olive oil. Carefully heat the oil between 325 degrees and 335 degrees.
  4. Remove the batter from the refrigerator. If it has settled into a paste, whisk it again to smooth it out. Working in batches, dip a few mushrooms in the batter and carefully place them in the hot oil. Fry until light brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels. Season with fine sea salt to taste.

Benton’s Bacon Froth

  1. In a medium saucepot, render bacon over medium heat but do not color. Add in the onions and garlic and sweat gently without coloring.
  2. Once onions are tender, add the stock and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer stock for 10 minutes. Cover stock and remove from heat. Let the stock steep for at least an hour before straining. Reserve liquid.

Froth Assembly

  1.  Scald skim milk in a small pot. Then add hot bacon stock to the skim milk. Add sucro to mixture while whisking rapidly to avoid clumps. Keep warm for final plating.

To Assemble the Final Dish

  1. Gently heat the bacon froth and leek puree and reserve.
  2. Quickly deep fry the oyster mushrooms in the virgin olive oil and reserve warm.
  3. In the same virgin olive oil, quickly fry the molten polenta fritter until it is golden brown. Drain fritter on paper towels and carefully wrap the oyster Tonarelli around the fritter. Drizzle with lemon oil and place in a 325-degree oven for one to two minutes to finish warming the Tonarelli.
  4. Spread the leek puree on a warm plate and place the Tonarelli-wrapped fritter on top. Garnish with the crystallized onion rings, cracked black pepper, and the tempura-fried oyster mushrooms.
  5. Using a hand-held frother, emulsify the bacon froth and spoon onto the dish. Serve immediately.

*Chef’s note: In my cooking, I use grams, because weight is always a more precise and consistent measurement than volume. I highly recommend using a home scale. It’s worth the investment.

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