Galette of Rhubarb, Crystallised Coconut, Rhubarb Sorbet
Specialty Equipment: water bath, vacuum machine, moulds, juicer, dehydrator, sugar refractometer, ice cream machine
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F, sodium citrate, T45 flour
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
The preferred base of a crumble of Masterchef contestants is rhubarb. Everytime the word crumble is spoken, it is, 9 out of 10 times, preceded by the word rhubarb. What’s the deal with all the love for these long, slender stalks? My encounters with rhubarb have always, so far, been pretty bad. Either the rhubarb was completely broken down into a slimy, fibrous mess or intact, but extremely tart with an acidic kick that makes lemons look sweet. The Crab Biscuit dish restored some of my faith in the vegetable, but I was still a bit reserved about the ‘galette’.
You often hear chefs talk about underused pieces of meat, like cheeks, organs and many more, saying a talented chef can make something beautiful out of them. Filet is for lazy chefs. Fruits and vegetables are never mentioned this way. I’d like to add rhubarb to this line of thinking. A recipe that can make rhubarb tasty has to have some talent injected into it.
I started with the sorbet base, which is made from rhubarb juice, fructose and grenadine (I had some left from the Crab Biscuit). Just like the red cabbage gazpacho I didn’t juice the vegetables, but chopped it up in a food processer and pressed the liquid out in a hair net. The ‘problem’ with the recipe is that a sugar refractometer is needed to give the exact sweet/sour balance. Maybe I’ll have one in the future, but for now I just blended the grenadine/fructose mix in the rhubarb juice until it had a good balance.
Next up was the poached rhubarb. With some minor changes, it is made exactly like the poached rhubarb from the Crab Biscuit (macerating and then poaching them on a low temperature).
You then have to cut the rhubarb in 2cm pieces. Sounds easy? I had a very hard time cutting them in equal size pieces. Luckily I wasn’t cutting them in the prep kitchen of The Fat Duck, which would probably make me the receiver of some verbal abuse, so I could just use them as they were (think of it, why didn’t I just corrected the pieces larger than 2cm?).
I have 1 rectangular mould (I’m beginning to think moulds of different shapes and sizes are the key to a good restaurant), so that was my only hope of a dish resembling the plate as presented in the restaurant. The poached rhubarb is finished with a reduction of the poaching liquid (gelatine is added to it). You can fill a mould until the rhubarb is very compact, with very few, or even, no air pockets. That would make the poaching liquid kind of redundant, so I left some gaps where the soon-to-be jelly could sneak into.
The sorbet is garnished with a strip of dried rhubarb. You have to cook thin slices (I used a mandolin) until they become translucent. This step makes the slices fragile and reshaping them into a strip a nightmare. After two pieces I didn’t cook them until completely translucent, but until they loosed their raw appearance and became pliable. I also dried a strip that was not cooked.
Cooked until just pliable (left, best result), cooked until translucent (middle, second best), left raw (right, worse).
The base of the galette is an olive oil biscuit, the same from the Macerated Strawberries dish. Luckily I saw this dish also needed the biscuit when making the strawberries, so I froze some and only had to roll it out and bake it.
The crystallized coconut is made by grating it, vacuum pack it with simple syrup, frying it until just brown and finishing it in an oven.
The coconut fluid gel consists of gellan F, sodium citrate and coconut puree (see other posts).
The poached rhubarb is topped with a yoghurt mousse and caramelized puff pastry. The yoghurt mousse is made from sweetened bio yoghurt, orange flower water, icing sugar and fromage blanc. I have no idea where to get sweetened yoghurt or what it is exactly, so I used normal full fat bio yoghurt (sweetened yoghurt is not just yoghurt with some sugar added to or is it?). The fromage blanc has to be hanged in the fridge in a piece of muslin to extract excess moisture.
Finally the arlette. It is puff pastry rolled out with icing sugar, much the same way you would use flour to roll out dough. The sugar prevents it from sticking and caramelizes the pastry. It’s important to have two baking trays (with at least one heavy one), so you can prevent the pastry from rising. Cutting them in rectangles is, just like the poached rhubarb, quite hard or I’m just really bad in cutting stuff in precise shapes. The puff pastry has a tendency to crack at the edges, leaving you with rough edges. I had more than enough puff pastry, so I got some good pieces out of it. I didn’t hear any imaginary yelling this time.
Plating the dish. A line of coconut fluid gel with some crystallized coconut. The poached rhubarb comes away smoothly from the mould and has to be stacked on the biscuit. On top are some piped rounds of yoghurt mousse and a piece of arlette. The recipe instructs to cut down the dimensions of the arlette with 1cm in comparison to the poached rhubarb. On the images I found on the internet and in the book the arlette is bigger than the base. I must say it looked a bit wrong, the smaller piece of puff pastry. I made every piece of arlette about the same size, but thanks to my inadequate cutting I had a slightly bigger piece, which looked better. It’s still on the smaller side of the scale.
The last components are the sorbet and the dried rhubarb.
First off, the photos don’t do the dish justice. I never know how to light a dark kitchen without ending up with a yellow photo (from the artificial light). The colors are way off in the photo. I already knew from the Crab Biscuit the poached rhubarb is good, but I wasn’t prepared for the sorbet. Wow, it is absolutely one of the best scoops of ice cream I ever had, if not the best. The crystallized coconut also stood out. Crunchy, caramel like coconut flesh with a coconut kick. The sugar and heating probably boosts the flavor immensely. All in all, one hell of a rhubarb dish. If I link that to the beginning of the post, the chef behind the dish must be talented.
The ‘real’ color of the sorbet.
As you can read in the comments there is some rhubarb unaccounted for in the sorbet recipe. I don’t know if it a simple error or there is a part of the recipe missing.