Basque Stage Candidate Post: Scallop and Pork Belly Bocadillo w/ Popcorn Revuelto

So this dish I decided to do was conceived last minute as I was actually planning on doing a completely different dish for the past week or so for my Basque Stage Candidate Post. It wasn’t unti Tuesday morning that l I picked up my copy of the latest Lucky Peach, David Chang’s, the face behind Momofuku, quarterly journal of food writing. He had this little section where there was a recipe for a little concoction called “popcorn grits”. This had caught my attention and just had my mind racing instantly. For some reason, one of the first thoughts that came into my mind was revuelto. Revuelto is a probably one of my favorite preparation of eggs that I had discovered at The Harvest Vine (expect an All About Eggs! post about revuelto in the near future!). Revuelto is essentially softly scrambled eggs. I thought that popcorn grits would make for a perfect combination to the rich and creamy eggs, texturally and flavor wise. Then it dawned on me that I softly scrambled eggs weren’t going to be enough. I needed something more. Did it need a seafood? Or a meat? Or maybe both!? Then I thought about a special dish that my chef does every once in a while for special guests. He does a little play off of ‘bocadillos’ (Spanish for sandwiches) where he sandwiches a seared piece of seared foie gras between a sliced seared scallop. I thought that the scallop would go perfect with my popcorn revuelto but the foie gras to be a little over the top… Enter the pork belly…. the pork belly would give the dish the meatiness that it needs so I decided to replace it instead of the foie (I know, crazy right?). And just for fun, I thought I’d reincorporate popcorn as a crunch garnish, so I flavored it with Spanish smoked paprika and Piment d’ espelette. Piment d’ espelette is probably once of my favorite spices as it adds a real nice kick to anything you add it too. So to get back on track, here is my Basque Stage Candidate Post!

Scallop and Pork Belly Bocadillo w/ Popcorn Revuelto

Ingredient

  • Olive Oil
  • Popcorn Kernals
  • Heavy Cream
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Scallops
  • Braised Pork Belly

             Garnish

  • Reserved Popped Popcorn
  • Piment  d’ espelette
  • Pimenton Dulce

Procedure

Combine the oil and popcorn kernals in a large pot and set over high heat. Once the oil starts sizzling, cover the pot and lower the heat to medium.

Once the kernals start popping, make sure to shake the pot vigorously to make sure none of the popcorn burns. Once the popping starts to slow down drastically, take off heat and leave cover on until the pops stop.

Reserve atleast a cup of popcorn for the garnish. For the Garnish, toss together melted butter, popcorn, Piment d’ espelette, and Pimenton Dulce until covered evenly.

Heat up the milk, cream, and butter in a pan over medium heat. Once the mixture comes up to a simmer, add 1/3 of the popcorn and cook for about a minute. strain the liquid through a medium-meshed strainer (it’s important not to use a fine mesh strainer because you want to be able to push through the popcorn)

Once the liquid is strained, scrap the popcorn against the strainer, pushing through a popcorn-like puree (the popcorn ‘grits’). Scrap off all popcorn from the bottom of the strainer and set it aside. Repeat these steps with the remaining 2/3 of  popcorn. After the last batch, save the popcorn-infused cream.

In a saute pan, reduce the popcorn-infused cream until the consistency is really tight and not to runny. Timing for this dish is crucial as you don’t want to under-reduce or over-reduce your cream because it is the biggest factor for keeping your eggs the right consistency. Add the egg and then remove the pan from the heat. The residual heat from the cream should be hot enough to cook the egg all the way through. With a spatula, mix the eggs and the cream until the eggs start to set. Mid-way, add your popcorn ‘grits’ and salt then continue to stir. The eggs will be done when they there is no longer any uncooked eggwhite and have gained some body to them. They should be creamy and hold some form, but you will definitely know if they are overcooked if any chunks of egg have formed.

In a separate pan, heat up oil on high until barely smoking. Add scallops and let sear until golden brown. Feel free to check the caramelization and move it to a hotter part of the pan if it needs more caramelizing. Right before you flip the scallops, add the sliced pork belly. Flip the scallop and then turn off the heat. Flip the pork belly and then finish with chopped parsley.

Place the popcorn revuelto on the plate. Slice scallops in half and place a slice of pork belly between each side of the scallop making a sandwhich. Place on top of popcorn revuelto and then garnish with the Espelette and Pimenton popcorn. Make pretty with parsley oil and some micro-greens then enjoy!

I am really happy with how this dish turned out. The flavor combinations all worked really work together and there were so many different textures that made this dish really fun to eat! Thanks for reading and hopefully you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed making it!

-Justin

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8 Legged Friend: The Octopus

One of the questions we that guests ask us at the most at the Harvest Vine is, “When are you guys going to get Galician Octopus back?” There was a time when my chef would bring in octopus in that were imported from the waters of Galicia. I have never had anything as exquisite as Galician Octopus in my life. I still remember the first time I experienced eating this delicate, most tender, and flavor-packing piece of octopus. It was served perfectly as a pintxo in the Pulpo a la Gallega style at the Harvest Vine’s sister restaurant, Txori. Its a dish where simplicity really shines. All the pintxo consisted of was a slice of the ever-so tender octopus tentacle with a sliced steamed red potato. It was then finished off with some smoky pimenton, very coarse sea salt, and then drenched in a shower of the finest Arbequinia olive oil we had in house. It was the ‘Perfect Bite’. I’ve never had octopus with such luxurious and silky texture as Galician octopus.

Pulpo at Txori Bar.

Sadly, the days of getting Galacian Octopus is long gone as it is a very expensive product to import in. At the time, Txori was open, so it was easy to share the large amount of imported octopus between the two restaurants. But there has been some rumors floating around the restaurant that we actually might be thinking about getting some in so let’s cross our fingers!

Luckily, we are still able to get in some beautiful octopus and baby octopus from Atlantic waters that are just as delectable and tasty! There are so many ways that we can utilize the octopus and all of its part.We serve the octopus in many different variations from the classic Pulpo a la Gallega to using it in a alioli-bathed salad with white beans and chorizo. But what it all comes down to is how the octopus is cooked to make it into the most tender piece of meat ever!

Me and the 8 legged beast!

Cooking octopus is as easy as just putting it in a pot of boiling water and letting it simmer for hours until its tender. But there are a bunch of little things that we do to help make sure that our pulpo comes out as tender as it can get. One of the many myths of cooking octopus is the infamous red-wine cork in the water pot. I have heard from many different people as of why we put the cork in the pot. One reason why is that the tannins from the left over wine on the bottom of the cork helps break down the octopus. I have also heard that its actually the type of wood the cork is made from that helps with tenderizing of the octopus. All I know is that we throw it in and it works like magic!

Only one is needed!

We also use a 3 stage blanching process before we actually leave the octopus in the pot of water to simmer away. So what we do is we bring a pot of water with the wine cork to a boil and then we drop in the octopus. Of course the temperature of the water drops when we throw in the octopus so we then wait for it to come up back to a boil, then we remove the octopus. We then repeat this process 2 more times and on the last time, we leave the octopus in to simmer until its tender!

Our friend after the second time being dunked in hot water.

The way we can tell the octopus is done is by carefully pulling two tenticals away from each other and seeing if the connecting skin between the two legs carefully tear away from each other. It is very easy to over cook octopus, so you got to make sure you check it regularly after the first couple of hours. We then chill it and then portion the octopus for service!

Sectioned Octopus!

From here we are able to portion it any way want from cutting the tentacles into little medallions or to leaving them in larger pieces so they will hold up on the grill. The octopus head is actually one of the meatiest part of the animal so we save them up and then dice them up to use up in a salad for the menu or even for our pintxo, or amuse bouche.

At the Vine right now, we have the grilled pulpo on the menu. We dress the grilled tentacle with a nice marinade of pimenton, parsley, and olive oil and then serve it atop a smooth puree of chickpeas. It’s has the nice flavors of the traditional Pulpo a la Gallega but has that different touch with the nutty flavor and textures of the garbanzo puree.

My Sous Chef's, Allyss, beautiful plate of grilled octopus!