A Refined Barbecue Seasoning
The world of high cuisine, that of the famous Chefs and the multistarred restaurants, irrespective of the undisputed technical quality of its interpreters and of their creative ability in the astonishing new and surprising flavor, owe much of its communicative effectiveness in my opinion to the knowledge about how to transform a meal into a playful experience, played on the line of consistency and thermal and mechanical contrasts, in knowing how to brake the rules related to the contextuality before even in the taste of itself. The niche of the BBQ kitchen is still quite immune to these influences, a bit because it is born from more rural roots and a bit because we could say it came up to chronicles only the day before yesterday. I think that all of this, at least for the moment is a good thing even if to be honest I have to confess to be sometimes tempted to give up to some contaminations.
Occasionally I happen to catch me in recipes that could clearly belong to the Chef’s Table screens and ask to myself if they could have their roles in the BBQ world. This is the case of a famous invention by Harold Moore of Manhattan’s Commerce Restaurant. It’s the classic example of a recipe made from very uncomplicated ingredients with an all-in-one simple technique that plays its own success precisely on the spontaneous decontestualization. Good Harold dehydrated egg yolks in a mixture of salt, refined sugar and aromatic herbs for a few days and then cooked them at low temperatures making them substantially cooked. What came is a sort of Egg Bottarga he uses to grate on pasta dishes or on gourmet salads.
I saw it and I thought: why not create a Bottarga Barbecue? Why not do the same thing using the typical flavors of the barbecue, to have them at our disposal whenever we want, finding them without turning on the smoker or simply using them for new and adventurous combinations? So I thought about how to characterize the egg with the characteristic flavors of the barbecue. First, instead of using herbs, I can only use a Rub. I do not choose a classic barbecue rub, there are too many ingredients to be baked by the heat, creating the bark and their contribution in raw form would be misleading. Then I switched to the Pig’s Ass Memphis Rub, designed to be added to the ribs even at the end of cooking. I then decide to introduce the Worcestershire Sauce into the recipe cause I personally consider it one of the most important elements of our world. Finally, of course, I decided to smoke the bottarga during cooking and among the possible essences I chose the American Beech chips, a wood that gives an extremely delicate and elegant flavor and that I usually use in my finest dishes such as Quail Devil Eggs.
This is what has born:
50% Kosher Salt
45% Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon per egg of Worctershire Sauce
Smoke: American Beech Chips
- First, mix the salt with the rub and then the brown sugar and place half of it on the bottom of a hermetically sealed food container, gently bending it on the table to try to narrow the contents as much as possible. By pressing the back of an egg on the mixture of salt and sugar, I create regular spaceships, intended to host the yolks.
- I separate the yolks from the egg whites and place into the groves. Above each egg I pour a teaspoon of Salsa Worcestershire and then cover them completely with the remaining salt and sugar mixture. Close the container with the lid and place it in the fridge for 4 days.
- If you decide to try the recipe I strongly urge you at the end of this period to dwell on the scent of dry brine just after removing the lid and before proceeding further. I will not tell you anything, but the smoky version of what you are feeling is what you will add to your dishes through the Bottarga. After removing the container from the fridge, gently remove the salt around the spots until the eggs remain in my hand, which now appear compact even if remaining translucent. I gently rinse it in a bowl of water and transfer it to a cooking grate that I previously sprinkled with the Don Marcos’s spray treat.
- I then put the grate in a vertical smoker set at 75°C into which I put the American Beech Chips. I smoked the eggs for 1 and a half hours or in any case until they have lost their shiny appearance, becoming bronzed and opaque. I take the grate out from the smoker and let the Bottarga cool 30 minutes. I then transfer them to a proper size hermetic container inside which they can stay in the fridge for up to a month. I recommend that you let the smoke to mature at least a couple of days before consuming it.
Barbecue Bottarga is really something surprising. It’s not easy but I’m trying to describe it: a full, savory taste, tending to sweet, very aromatic, umami at top power, non invasive but present and recognizable smoke. In the mouth you definitely feel overwhelming, especially if you eat it in pieces and not grated as a seasoning, but yet after 2 minutes you want to have more, you can not stop. Crushed or grated over on the foods will surely make the best of it. I personally find that the ideal combination of Barbecue Bottarga is with delicate dishes that can enhance its character. So definitely pasta but seasoned with simple sauces, salads, vegetables, fresh cheeses, tartas and wide to fantasy.
Would you ever think that the world of barbecue could have its own bottarga?