New Year’s Eve feels electric, buzzy, exciting – a new year, a new slate, a new dish. My own tradition is not surprising given my love of all things decadent and food-related. I simply must eat a delicious meal on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The last day of the year and the first day of the new must be met with a tasty bite. Going out to dinner is usually preferred; less hassle, no mess to clean up but this year I threw out the idea of overpriced prie-fixed menus and opted to create my own Michelin Star worthy dish.
The purpose of the cooking project I’ve embarked on was two-fold. I wanted to get back into purposeful blogging and I wanted to become a better cook along the way. If you’ve been following along you know I started out easy. I began with the basics, with some of what I knew and some of what I knew I could do. The road hasn’t been easy and I’ve still a ways to go but I feel I have become better and it excites me to know how far I’ve come four months into this. It was appropriate then to finally attempt one of Eric Ripert’s dishes from his self-titled cookbook. The recipe I decided on called for Halibut – after much searching (and frankly, I decided too last minute to try and order anything fresh) I knew I would have to mix things up so I went with Argentinian Shrimp – a delicious Trader Joe’s find.
As “simple” as this dish is, it was quite a feat to put together. Each element is easy and straightforward enough; making poaching liquid, cooking the tomatoes in the oven, even the potato puree was something I had done before – but with dishes like this, timing is everything and timing is what made this dish so complex. Prep time is 1 hour while cook time is 10 minutes. What is so helpful is Chef Ripert lays out each step with photos so I felt I was in the kitchen with him – that would be a dream.
The Potato-Fennel Puree comes first
1 pound (455 g) Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 tbsp milk
8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 bulb fennel, juiced and strained
Fine Sea Salt
Bring the potatoes to a boil and reduce to a simmer until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan; remove from heat and cover and set aside. Peel the potatoes and pass them through a food mill or a chinois if you have that over a pan set over low heat. Stir the butter until the mixture is creamy then whisk in the warmed milk and fennel juice and season with salt and pepper and set aside. Easy enough?
For the cherry tomato confit, preheat your over to 250 F (120 C) and blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 5 seconds then immediately shock them in ice water. Be happy you aren’t a tomato. You’ll be able to peel them easily (surprisingly, kinda fun) and then place them into a small saucepan. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil, rosemary and shallot. I placed mine in aluminum foil and cooked for 40 minutes. When time is up, remove the rosemary and shallot and set the tomatoes aside. Warning: These will smell divine, try not to eat them all at once.
The Red Miso Citrus Emulsion is slightly scary. I got through it so you can as well. If you can’t you can find miso and doctor it up if you wish to save time. In a small saucepan add the orange juice, ginger, shallot and red miso. Whisk ingredients together and cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the yuzu, lemon and lime juice. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and finish with Espellete Pepper – I did not procure this so I used white pepper.
If you have Halibut or another white fish, by all means – if not, use Shrimp (the larger the better) and season with salt and pepper. Place gently into the hot poaching liquid (the red miso) Let cook until a metal skewer or fork is met with medium resistance. Remove from the liquid and season again if needed. Whatever you use, should be defrosted ahead of time as the poaching does not take long.
Assembly! This is where I cursed a bit under my breath, the kitchen looked like a hot mess. I am sadly not one of those bloggers who graces and glides through the kitchen with ease leaving no mess in her wake. I decided to pause and tidy up a bit, keeping each separate element warm – this is probably why I was so panicked. The tomatoes were cooling, the shrimp was on its way there and the puree while warm, I didn’t want to need to reheat. As I raced around and looked at the four components and the time – 7:00 – I wanted to do this dish justice. I took the two white plates and got focused. First, the potato puree, then the miso broth, followed by the tomatoes and finally the shrimp. It was beautiful and smelled amazingly good. Three cheers for Chef Ripert and his masterful flavor profiles without which, I would never had attempted this one-of-a-kind dish.
Looking back, this recipe is what I’m striving for. To be able to make dishes like this without having mini-meltdowns, to not need to look at a cookbook to execute flavors like this. I’m incredibly proud of my accomplishment and if you attempt something like this – I’d be glad to help assist and answer any questions you have. I always tell my friends, I love cooking and I love good food because it’s amazing to see what ingredients are capable of. Like a person becoming an all-star athlete, pushing their body to the max and going further than they ever thought possible – I want to push great ingredients and create dishes that I never knew I was capable of doing. And it all starts with an attempt. So get out there and create something, baby!
Cheers to you, 2018.