Estela by Ignacio MattosJanuary 8, 2019 by Jenny
Estela by Ignacio Mattos with Gabe Ulla is one of my best books of 2018. Mattos is a culinary wizard who weaves flavors and textures with simple ingredients to create brilliance. I was fortunate enough to dine at the chef’s New York restaurant, Estela, last spring. It was the best meal I have ever eaten.
The Estela cookbook delivers
recipes for many of the restaurant’s dishes. The endive salad (recipe below) was divine
and I replicated that salad last summer (photo right) for
a dinner party (adapting it slightly). It is a salad that makes all
other salads wilt in shame. I ate nearly half the platter
when I made it.
At the restaurant after sharing multiple small plates with my dinner companions one of them chose a dessert for us, Panna cotta with honey. I was less than pleased with the choice. When the dessert arrived, I took a taste and would have gladly fought off my two friends to finish the creamy, tangy perfection that is this dish. I have not stopped thinking about it.
I have the Panna cotta setting up in the refrigerator now (photo left). I have made the honey mixture and purchased the bee pollen and cannot wait to share this dessert with my family tonight. Each component tastes exactly as I remember, and it will be a special treat to experience them all together again.
Estela is a book (and a restaurant) not to be missed. From the restaurant to the page, it is an experience that must be enjoyed to understand its brilliance. Having a meal there or recapturing a dish with the assistance of this cookbook reinforces that a few simple ingredients perfectly orchestrated can be exceptional. There needn’t be three dozen ingredients to create a masterpiece; there just needs to be a maestro like Ignacio Mattos to lead the way.
Update: The finished Panna cotta is
extraordinary (photo right). Andrew, my son, has declared it “the
best thing you’ve ever made” (disclaimer he says that about a great
many things). He loved the vinegar tang and the perfect creaminess
of the panna cotta. I’ve decided this is my dinner for tonight.
Panna cotta can be dinner, no?
Special thanks to Ignacio Mattos and Artisan Books for sharing the Endive recipe with our members today and for providing two copies of this must have book in our giveaway below.
Endive salad with walnuts and Ubriaco rosso
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It’s fun to see people’s reactions to this dish. At first glance, it looks like just a pile of endive leaves. But I think there’s something really beautiful about it. The way to start is by eating a few of the top leaves, little endive cups holding orange juice and oil, and then begin filling the rest of them with the absurdly delicious crouton-and-cheese mixture hidden below, sort of like making your own taco.
Serves 4 to 6
For the Vinaigrette
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 large anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons garnacha vinegar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Cracked black pepper
For the Granola
- 1½ cups (50 g) ½-inch cubes of day-old sourdough (you want a few pieces with some dark crust)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup (100 g) walnuts
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chile flakes
- ⅓ cup (40 g) irregular pieces (¼- to ½-inch) Ubriaco Rosso
- Scant ⅓ cup (about 35 g) irregular pieces (¼- to ½-inch) Pecorino Duro
For the Endives
- 4 endives
- Kosher salt
- 1 medium orange
- 1 tablespoon chardonnay vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Make the vinaigrette:
Pound the garlic cloves into a paste in a mortar with the pestle. Add the anchovies and pound until everything is fairly smooth but still slightly chunky. Add the vinegar, olive oil, and cracked black pepper to taste and mix to combine. The idea is to get a broken vinaigrette with pieces of anchovy still visible.
Make the granola:
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Put the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt, then spread them out. Spread the nuts out on a separate baking sheet. Toast the bread and walnuts in the oven, tossing them every few minutes. Remove the nuts once they are dark and well toasted, about 8 minutes. Remove the bread once it’s dark brown and toasted all the way through, about 10 minutes.
While the nuts are still warm, put them in a mortar, add a teaspoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a few generous cranks of black pepper, and a pinch of chile flakes and crush them into coarse chunks with the pestle. Using the bottom of a heavy pan, crush the bread cubes into chunks between ¼ and ½ inch. (With each component, you want a mix of textures and sizes.)
Combine the croutons, walnuts, and cheeses in a medium bowl. Dress with the vinaigrette, mixing well. Let sit while you prepare the endives so the croutons get a little softer and the flavors come together.
Prepare the endives:
Cut an inch off the bottom of each endive and discard. Gently peel back the leaves, continuing to trim the root as you go, until you get to the core (it’s the sweetest part of the endive). Cut each core in half lengthwise, or into quarters if it’s large, and toss them into the bowl.
To serve, season the endives with a generous pinch of salt. Grate the zest of the orange evenly over the top of the endives, then halve the orange and squeeze the juice over the leaves. Add the vinegar and gently toss the leaves to coat, as you don’t want them to bruise.
Spread the granola mixture evenly on two plates. Arrange the endive leaves on top so that they make little cups for the dressing. Sprinkle with salt, spoon on the orange juice mixture left in the bottom of the bowl, and drizzle on a bit of olive oil.
Excerpted from Estela by Ignacio Mattos (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Marcus Nillson
The publisher is offering two copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and Canada. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.
Which recipe in the index would you try first?
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