Just down the road – ricotta, mushrooms and carrots

  • medium
  • 6
  • 3 hours plus 2 days for maturing, pickling and time for dehydrating

This ricotta, mushroom and carrot dish from Tom Aikens has a number of different components – pickled girolles, homemade ricotta, a crunchy rye and cep crumb – each of which is well worth knowing how to make on its own. Together, they make a truly show-stopping and autumnal starter. Tom calls this dish 'Just down the road' as a nod to Old Hall Farm where he buys his dairy from, which is located just down the road from where he grew up in Norfolk.

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First published in 2023

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Ricotta

  • 1.85l whole milk
  • 1.25l double cream
  • 35g of Maldon salt
  • 75g of lemon juice, plus 22g to finish
  • 75g of white wine vinegar
  • 15g of elderflower vinegar, or cider vinegar, to finish

Pickled girolle mushrooms

Pickled carrots

  • 3 carrots, in different colours if possible
  • 230ml of water
  • 100ml of Sauternes wine
  • 100ml of white wine vinegar
  • 20ml of olive oil
  • 11g of salt
  • 33g of caster sugar
  • 4g of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 7 black peppercorns

Carrot dressing

  • 300ml of olive oil
  • 2g of salt
  • 4g of caster sugar
  • 12g of tarragon
  • 8g of thyme
  • 100ml of white wine vinegar
  • 300ml of Sauternes wine
  • 500ml of carrot juice

Semi-dried carrot

Rye and cep crumb

Garnish

Equipment

  • Stand mixer
  • Muslin cloth
  • Dehydrator
  • Sous vide equipment

Method

1

Start by making the ricotta. To make the ricotta, first wet the bottom of the pan as this helps to prevent the milk from sticking. Place the milk, cream, and salt into the pan and bring to a simmer, whisking from time to time so it does not scald on the bottom of the pan

2

Once at a quick simmer, whisk in the lemon juice and cider vinegar and remove from heat immediately

  • 75g of lemon juice, plus 22g to finish
  • 75g of white wine vinegar
3

Leave to cool on the side until it comes to room temperature, about an hour. Strain the curds through two layers of muslin and leave overnight

4

Once drained, remove from the muslin and whisk in a stand mixer to lightly to break up the lumps

5

Add the reserved lemon juice and elderflower or cider vinegar and mix to combine. Season with a little more salt if needed

  • 15g of elderflower vinegar, or cider vinegar, to finish
6

Transfer to a piping bag with a wide petal tip if using

7

To make the pickled girolle mushrooms, first make sure the mushrooms are clean and then slice them into 5–6 pieces each. Bring all the ingredients apart from the mushrooms to a simmer, then simmer for 10 minutes

8

Add the mushrooms to a tray and pour over the hot stock and let cool

9

To make the pickled carrots, first cut the carrots into long, thin wide slices on a mandolin. Stamp out the slices of carrots into small stars of flowers

  • 3 carrots, in different colours if possible
10

Bring all the ingredients for the pickling liquor to a simmer

  • 230ml of water
  • 100ml of Sauternes wine
  • 100ml of white wine vinegar
  • 20ml of olive oil
  • 11g of salt
  • 33g of caster sugar
  • 4g of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 7 black peppercorns
11

Transfer to a tray and let cool. You can now optionally compress the cooled carrots and mushrooms. Otherwise, store in a fridge in the stock for one to two days to pickle

12

For the carrot dressing, place the carrots into a pan with 150ml olive oil, salt, sugar, the tarragon and thyme. Place onto a medium-low heat and cook for 5 minutes or until they start to cook down and have a tiny bit of colour

13

Deglaze the pan with the white wine vinegar, and then reduce to almost nothing, about three quarters of the original volume

  • 100ml of white wine vinegar
14

Add the Sauternes and then reduce by two thirds

  • 300ml of Sauternes wine
15

Add the carrot juice and reduce by two thirds again

  • 500ml of carrot juice
16

Add the remaining olive oil and simmer for 2 minutes over a low heat

17

Transfer to a container and leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge for at least two days so it takes on more flavour, stirring every day. After two days, pass through a fine sieve, pressing down firmly

18

For the semi-dried carrots, cook the baby carrots in a little bit of olive oil in a pan with a pinch of salt until they are slightly softened but not coloured

19

Add the thyme, tarragon and a bay leaf

20

Add the Sauternes and let bubble down until glazy, then add the carrot juice and reduce the liquid down until the carrots are glazed. And the sugar and lemon juice and cook again

  • 150ml of Sauternes wine
  • 2g of salt
  • 250ml of carrot juice
  • 15g of caster sugar
  • 20ml of lemon juice
21

Once glazed, place into a dehydrator at 70°C for 4–6 hrs until they have shrunk by half, then store them in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can dehydrate the carrots in an oven at 60°C for 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours

22

For the rye and cep crumb, toast the rye bread in a pan with the cep oil

  • 150g of rye bread, blended
  • 50ml of cep oil
23

Add the thyme, salt and cep powder and cook until crispy

24

Leave to cool and then blend to a crumb

25

To plate, pipe some ricotta onto each plate. Add some pickled girolles to the ricotta

26

Dress the confit and raw carrot in some carrot vinaigrette and then arrange them on the plate

27

Dress the carrot pickles in some carrot vinaigrette and add to the plate

28

Add some carrot fronds, nasturtium leaf and oxalis to the plate. Sprinkle over a pinch of the rye crumbs

29

Drizzle over some carrot vinaigrette, and serve

First published in 2023

Tom Aikens is one of the most creative and talented chefs Britain has ever seen, with a restaurant empire to match.

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