Station’s Carrot Salad

Today’s Secret Recipe comes from Station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This industrial-chic restaurant serves up American fare with an Italian twist. One of the chef and owner Curtis Gamble’s creative dishes is the carrot salad with pomegranate curd, fresh cheese, chickpea fritters, bitter greens and harissa vinaigrette. This dish is certainly a project, but the results are well worth it.


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Station’s Carrot Salad


Fresh cheese:

  • ½ gallon whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon citric acid
  • ½ cup white distilled vinegar
  1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set aside.

  2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a scald. Remove from heat. Stir a vortex into the milk and add the citric acid and vinegar all at once. Allow the mixture to separate into curds and whey but do not agitate or mix it. Set aside, undisturbed, until the whey (the watery liquid) is very clear, 15 to 30 minutes.

  3. Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop out the curds, place them in the cheesecloth-lined strainer and let drain, uncovered, in the refrigerator until completely cool. The cheese will be creamy and a bit crumbly. This makes about 12 to 14 ounces of cheese. The cheese will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a few days.

Chickpea fritters:

  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced, about 2¼ teaspoons
  • 1 shallot, minced, about 2¼ teaspoons
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
  1. Lightly grease an 8- by 8-inch baking dish and set aside.

  2. In a dry saucepan over medium heat, combine the garlic and shallots. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the coriander, salt and turmeric and stir to toast. When the spices are fragrant, add the milk and bring to a scald over medium-high heat.

  3. Slowly incorporate the chickpea flour using a hand blender until fully incorporated. The mixture will be very frothy at first and eventually thicken to a viscous paste. Continue to blend aggressively while the mixture cooks over medium-high heat. When the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, after about 15 minutes, pour it into the prepared baking dish and refrigerate overnight, uncovered. Once chilled, cut into 1-inch by 1-inch cubes and set aside. This makes about 64 pieces, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The cubes will keep for up to 1 week, refrigerated, before frying.

Pomegranate curd:

  • 5 eggs
  • 2 ½ tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice, preferably Pom brand
  • 4 teaspoons agar agar
  • 5/8 teaspoon iota carrageenan
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons citric acid
  • 7 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
  1. Prepare a bowl of ice large enough to hold the top pan of a double boiler and set aside.

  2. In the bottom half of a double boiler, bring water to a simmer. In the top half of the double boiler, away from heat, mix the eggs and honey and set aside. In a separate, small saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice to a simmer. Whisk in the agar agar, iota carageenan and citric acid and bring the mixture to a hard boil. Add a third of the boiling liquid to the egg mixture and stir to blend completely. Add the remaining liquid to the egg mixture in thirds, blending completely after each addition.

  3. Place the pan over the simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until the curd reaches a temperature of 179 degrees, about 10 minutes. The mixture will be thick and a bit lumpy but still drip freely from a spoon. Remove the pan from heat and add the butter, one cube at a time, stirring until each is fully melted before adding the next. Place the pan in the bowl of ice until completely cool. Puree until smooth using a hand blender, about 5 minutes. This will make a generous 2 cups of curd, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. This will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week.

Roasted carrots:

  • 3 bunches of multi-colored carrots with tops
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander, or to taste

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the tops off the carrots, and remove the leaves from the stems. Set the leaves aside (they will be used in the final recipe) and save the stems for another use. Rinse the carrots under cold water, scrub and dry thoroughly. Toss with the olive oil and season with the salt and coriander. Lay carrots in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until soft to the touch, about 1 hour, rotating and checking for doneness every 15 minutes or so. Cool completely, then cut into 2-inch pieces. Chill until needed.

Harissa vinaigrette:

  • 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup harissa
  • Pinch of xanthan gum
  • 1 ¾ cups canola oil
  • Salt

Combine everything except the oil in a blender jar. Blend on high speed and slowly drizzle in the oil until fully emulsified. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste. This makes about 3 ½ cups dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The dressing will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 5 days.

Salad assembly:

  • Oil
  • 4 dozen prepared chilled chickpea fritters
  • Salt
  • Prepared roasted carrots
  • 1 cup prepared harissa vinaigrette
  • Pepper
  • 1 ½ cups prepared pomegranate curd
  • About 10 ounces prepared fresh cheese
  • 3 heads cleaned frisée
  • Carrot leaves, cleaned and dried
  1. Fill a high-sided saute pan with ½ to ¾ inch of oil, and heat the oil until a candy thermometer reaches 350 degrees. Lightly fry the chickpea fritters on all sides until crisp and a deep, golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and drain on paper towels.

  2. In a large bowl, toss the chilled roasted carrots with a light coating of harissa vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste.

  3. On a large serving platter, drizzle several spoonfuls of pomegranate curd in random locations. Spoon the carrots over the curd. Toss the frisée and carrot top leaves in same bowl as the carrots, then spoon over the carrots and curd. Arrange the fritters randomly on the platter. Sprinkle with fresh cheese and serve.

Serves 8

Source: LA Times

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