Simon Rogan's curds with watercress recipe encapsulates the chef's style perfectly - using precision techniques to transform beautiful British ingredients into clean, naturalistic dishes that are bursting with interest and flavour. In the case of this dish, he assembles watercress, freshly harvested tantan lettuce and cobnuts to produce a salad of style and intrigue. Curd-making can be a tricky process - to eliminate the chance of contamination or altering the flavour, use an Exoglass spoon to stir the milk while heating.
Praised for his technical brilliance and renowned for his use of unusual ingredients, combinations, styles and blending of tastes and textures, Simon Rogan has been called “one of the most innovative chefs in the country” by the Guardian.
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To begin the dish, make the curds. Combine the milk and buttermilk powder in a saucepan and whisk lightly to combine
400g of whole milk
10g of buttermilk powder
Bring the liquid to 39˚C, stirring continuously. While the liquid is coming to temperature, combine the rennet and water in a separate bowl
5g of water
2g of rennet
Once the liquid has reached 39°C, remove from the heat and add the rennet mixture, stirring in quickly. Pour into polystyrene ramekins and leave in the Hold-o-Mat, or temperature controlled environment, for 1 hour at 40°C. Remove and allow to cool
Once cool, carefully remove the curds from the whey using a slotted spoon and allow to drain in a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. Cover and refrigerate until required
To make the purée, add 284g of the watercress and all of the spinach to separate pans of boiling water. Blanch for 10 seconds, then strain and immediately refresh in ice water. Strain again and gently squeeze to remove any excess water
113g of baby spinach, picked
284g of watercress, large stalks removed
Bring the cream to the boil, remove from the heat and transfer to a high-speed blender. Add the blanched watercress and spinach and blend to a smooth purée
78g of whipping cream
Add salt to taste and blend in the remaining 25g of fresh watercress to finish. Transfer the purée to a bowl set over ice and cool as quickly as possible. Once cool, store in a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until required
25g of watercress, large stalks removed
To make the pickled kohlrabi, combine the vinegar, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat and stir to ensure that the sugar has completely dissolved
150g of Chardonnay vinegar
100g of sugar
50g of water
Peel the kohlrabi and shave it into thin rounds using the fine setting on a mandoline. Once the pickling liquid has cooled, add the sliced kohlrabi, mix to combine and pour the liquid and kohlrabi into a vac pac bag. Seal under vacuum and set aside to pickle until ready to plate
Now prepare the fried cobnuts. Slice each nut into very thin rounds and preheat a pan of vegetable oil (or deep fryer) to 170°C. Fry the sliced cobnuts until golden, remove from the oil and allow to drain on absorbent kitchen paper
vegetable oil, for deep frying
6 cobnuts, cracked and peeled
To prepare the buttermilk salt, simply mixing together the buttermilk powder and salt until well combined
5g of buttermilk powder
5g of salt
Now prepare the rest of the salad. For the tantan lettuce, remove and discard the outer leaves, leaving you with the light green leaves from the heart. Trim the base from the hearts and separate the leaves. Slice 2 of the radishes into thin rounds and set aside. Prepare the remaining radishes by neatly removing any blemished leaves
10 Cherry Belle radishes, washed
1 tantan lettuce, freshly harvested
Remove the curd from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. To plate, add some of the watercress and spinach purée to the base of each plate and gently spoon 8 portions of the strained curd on top
2 2/3 handfuls of watercress shoots
radish seeds, sprouted
Season with the buttermilk salt and garnish each plate with some of the drained pickled kohlrabi, tantan lettuce leaves, one whole radish, thin slices of radish, watercress shoots and sprouted radish seeds
Finally, add the fried sliced cobnuts, a good grating of the remaining fresh cobnuts and a drizzle of cobnut oil. Lightly season with a sprinkle more of the buttermilk salt and serve immediately
4 cobnuts, cracked and peeled
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