For this dish, it was my chance to redeem my horrendous performance with the Latin America brief. Being a panicky idiot, I had no clue what to make. So I opted for the snapper, made a yucca puree that was wallpaper glue(fun fact, yucca should NEVER go into a food processor, because the starch content is really, really high and it basically turns into a paste), and an inedible salsa using prickly pear/xoconostle, something that I had used before in sorbets, but never in salsa(because the seeds are inedible….). So for this dish, I wanted to tackle the same challenge prompt again, but without the nerves of me being in the competition or fearing being seen as an idiot. I also wanted to use the prickly pear again, because that was the biggest reason as to why I tanked in that moment. I need to prove that I am stronger than a plate or mouthful of xoconostle seeds.
For my redemption dish, I decided to go with the prawns this time. I had made a sauce using their shells in that challenge and I quite liked how it turned out. I’m going to prepare prawns in chorizo butter with roasted corn, tomatillos, masa Parisian gnocchi, and a xoconostle-prawn sauce. Already, it sounds infinitely better than what I produced, and it has the clarity of retrospect to guarantee that the dish will not suck. This dish is a better representation of me in that I’m making Parisian gnocchi, which is a similar dough to pate choux, which can also be used to make either churros or cream puffs, so we have a huge tie-in with dessert, and the dish itself is reminiscent of this amazing lobster gnocchi dish I had in Sorellina in Boston. With the sauce, I wanted to use the prickly pear there to give it more body, but a complimentary sweetness to accent the prawn juices. For the chorizo, while it was a Latin challenge, I am using Spanish chorizo, because it will render more like a ham or bacon, whereas with Mexican chorizo, it will just turn into a sludgy mess.
For the sauce:
1 cup of prawn shells and heads
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon espelette pepper
1 xoconostle or prickly pear; peeled and diced
Line a heated sauce pan with oil. Sweat out prawn shells and heads, shallot, garlic, pepper in a pan. Once prawn shells have browned, deglaze with water, and add in the xoconostle. Simmer down on low heat, while seasoning, until the mixture has thickened substantially, then strain out the solids, pressing to extract as much as possible. Finish with 1 tablespoon of chorizo butter that you were poaching your prawns in, whisking over an ice bath to property emulsify the fat into the liquid. Your end result should be an unctuous, and rich sauce.
For the chorizo butter:
1/2 cup diced Spanish chorizo
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1 clove of crushed garlic
Slowly render out the diced chorizo with garlic and salt on a cold pan. Remove and keep the crisped chorizo, and then slowly melt in your unsalted butter, off heat at first, until your mixture comes together. Poach your seasoned prawns in this mixture, on low heat, for at least 2 minutes.
For the tomatillos:
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
Roast the tomatillo over an open flame. Dice finely and then season with salt, cilantro, and lime juice and zest. Finish the gnocchi with this.
For the corn:
1 ear of corn
Brush chorizo butter onto the corn, then season aggressively. Grill on all sides until almost black, then remove corn kernels from the cob. Toss in together with the gnocchi and rendered chorizo into the sauce.
For the gnocchi:
2 tablespoons masa harina
1 tablespoon corn powder*
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour(can use 2 tablespoons if not using corn powder)
2 tablespoons lard (can replace with butter or oil)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt
Combine dry ingredients. Bring water and lard to a simmer. Once the lard is fully melted, add in the dry ingredients and stir into a ball. Season. Take off heat, then add in your eggs, one at a time, until it forms a dough. Transfer to a piping bag, and pipe into heavily salted water. Once the gnocchi float up, strain and transfer to an ice bath first, then a sheet tray. Finish off in the sauce.
For the prawns:
5 prawns; peeled, deveined, and heads removed
annatto seed; ground finely
Butterfly and heavily season the prawns. Slowly cook in the chorizo butter.
Start with the gnocchi, then top with the prawns.