Food & drink
Chef, Moda Restaurant, Brisbane
Take Three: Javier Codina with rabbit, green beans and figs. John Lethlean: restaurant critics in the age of entitlement. Max Allen; Beer Goggles. es.
Visiting Bundaberg’s Winterfeast 2015, I met Dave and Meg Rosengal, who grow amazing handpicked beans. In season I source flat beans, borlotti, butter beans, peas and green beans from Dave’s farm. (At Signorelli Fresh, Mt Eliza Village Fruits and others in Melbourne; Flats Farmers Market, Bundaberg, July 16.)
Green beans Mum’s way
Peel four medium desiree potatoes, slice each into six. In cold salted water, cook five minutes over high heat; when boiling, add three saffron stems. Add 250g washed, tailed flat green beans; boil until vegetables are just cooked, strain. Gently fold together potatoes, beans, four sprigs finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, 12 pitted arbequina olives, four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper. Serve on four serving plates, placing a small, fresh free-range egg yolk in a well in the centre of each. Drizzle vegetables with extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crusty bread.
With my Catalan heritage, I was nurtured on the spoils of hunting expeditions. There is still romance in the thought of hunted game but with modern farming techniques rabbit is delicate and pale, unlike wild rabbit’s darker flesh and earthy aromas. Rabbit is low fat, high in protein and nutrients. Some of the best I’ve sourced are from Burrawong Gaian in Macleay Valley, NSW. From a reputable supplier, there is no arduous preparation. If you can cook chicken, they can cook rabbit. Delicious.
Rabbit ballotine, gnocchi, red wine sauce
Place whole, deboned rabbit (1.2kg-1.5kg for six; reserve bones) on 50g crepinette (sheet caul fat, just larger than butterflied rabbit). Fold 20g raw pistachios through 200g chicken mousse (homemade or bought). Spoon evenly down centre of rabbit. Roll lengthwise, keeping crepinette outside, into a sausage shape. Firmly roll in four layers cling wrap, twist ends tightly, knot close to rabbit. Steam at 65C approximately 105mins. Refrigerate. Make gnocchi: 200g cooked, peeled, riced desiree or royal blue potatoes, quickly combined with two free-range egg yolks, 50g flour, 20g grated parmesan. Roll into two 2cm-diameter lengths; cut into 2.5cm pieces; gently boil half at a time in two litres salted water, two minutes until floating, then 30 seconds. Drain. Serve sliced ballotine (from fridge, or warmed briefly in steam oven), drizzled with red wine sauce (use caramelised rabbit bones, herbs, chicken stock), gnocchi (seared one minute each side in butter) and autumn vegetables.
Plump, sensual figs are extremely versatile, sweet or savoury. All varieties are delicious; my favourites are Black Genoa (purple, sweet crimson flesh) from McMartin’s Farm (Sunshine Coast) and Lava Valley Produce (online); and Brown Turkey (purple-brown, pink-brown flesh) from Wise’s Farm (Maroochydore). Brookfield Farmers Market is also a great source.
Almond and fig tart
Preheat oven to 170C. Melt 200g unsalted butter on stove top; once bubbling, reduce heat, cook until just browned. Slowly add 50ml amaretto liqueur. Remove, cool to warm. Beat 500g egg whites, 300g caster sugar into soft peaks, add zest of one orange. Gradually add 240g sifted almond meal, 60g sifted plain flour, teaspoon of cinnamon; combine well; slowly add warm butter, mix well. Lightly spray 27cm tart mould. Just warm in oven. Remove, immediately pour in batter. Gently place 12 ripe figs (halved, tip to base), cut side up, on to mixture. Bake 15 minutes; reduce to 130C, cook further 15 minutes. Serve warm wedges dusted with icing sugar, or with whipped cream and drizzle of Pedro Ximenez sherry.