Friday, June 12, 2009

Guy Savoy and the Pea

Le Roi-Soleil (French for Sun King) Guy Savoy and I all share a passion for le petit pois (peas in English). So Guy, a great chef and friend graciously gave me his “Myriad of young peas” recipe, already translated in English to share with you, the next best thing after going to his namesake three star restaurant in Paris. In the United States, you can taste his cuisine at his twin restaurant at the Caesar Palace in Las Vegas, opened in 2006 under the direction of his son, Franck.
Myriad of young peas is quintessential Guy. It concentrates on a simple seasonal product and combines a three-stage transformation on one plate. There is the jellified juice, the purée and the barely cooked pea itself. Add a soft-boiled egg, a few drops of chive-infused olive oil, some edible flowers and herbs, salt and pepper et voilà, a star is born. The original recipe calls for a wild flower, the cuckoo whose botanical name is cardamine pratensis. I suggest using instead a mixture of nasturtium, borage for their taste and viola for its look. If shiso is not readily available, any young mixed greens will work. I am lucky to grow all of these ingredients in my vegetable garden but they are also easily found in your local supermarket. The dish is quite simple to reproduce at home: I particularly enjoyed putting to good use all the machines that occupy my countertops. To prevent an almost natural phenomenon, the jumping pea from occurring, I suggest filling the juice extractor with the peas prior to turning it on. The recipe serves four.

Myriad of young peas
(Easy, Preparation time: 1 hour, Cooking time: 20 minutes, Cheap and Healthy)

8 lbs (4 kg) fresh peas
1 small edible flowers tray cuckoo or nasturtium, borage and viola
1 small shiso or young mixed greens tray
1 bunch of chives
1/3cup and 2 tablespoons (100 ml) olive oil
Coarse and fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Gelatine sheets: 1 sheet per 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons (100 ml)
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
4 eggs

Kitchen scale
Juice Extractor
Salad spinner
Paper towels
3 glass bowls
1 rubber spatula
1 wooden spoon
Soft-boiled egg pan

Shell the peas. Weigh them and set aside half to produce the juice. Of the remaining half, half will be used to produce the purée. Try to separate the smallest ones to use barely cooked in the finished dish.
Wash the flowers and mixed salad in cold water. Dry in a salad spinner and lay out between two paper towels
The sauce: place half of the peas in the extractor, close the lid and turn the machine on. Weigh the juice. You should get a little over 1/3 of a cup. Place the gelatine sheet in a salad bowl, cover with water to soften. Warm the juice over the low setting of the gas. Remove the softened gelatin sheet from the water and add to the juice, gently stirring until the sheet has dissolved. Remove from the gas. Taste and add salt and pepper. Reserve.
The purée: cook half of the remaining peas in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes. Taste one: it should be soft. Put the peas in a blender with a small amount of liquid cream and a few ice cubes and blend until you obtain a homogeneous purée. Taste, add salt and pepper as needed and reserve.
The chive oil: pour the oil in a small glass container. Roughly cut the chives and add to the oil. Infuse for about 15 minutes. Strain and set aside.
The barely cooked peas: cook in a large amount of boiling water for three minutes. Strain and reserve in a glass bowl. Season with chive oil, salt and pepper.
The soft-boiled eggs: crack carefully each egg and place in the slightly oiled individual egg compartment. Pour water in the pan and set to a slow boil. Place the egg compartment on top. Close the lid and boil for 3 to 5 minutes.
To assemble the dish, pour a quarter of the thickened pea juice in a soup dish. Place a smaller concentric layer of pea purée on top. Form a smaller circle of edible flowers. Pour the barely cooked peas around. Dispose 3 mixed greens leaves on the cooked peas. Set the soft-boiled egg on the center. Season the egg with salt and pepper. Drizzle a circle of chive oil around the plate. Repeat three times. Serve with toasts.

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