Leaves, guanciale, pecans

Leaves, guanciale, pecans

By
From
Finding Fire
Serves
4

There is something about cooking lettuce that seems so wrong, and yet it tastes so right. Strangely enough – in spite of the caviar, the oysters and the other extreme things we grilled in the Basque country – when I was asked if there was anything we didn’t grill at Etxebarri, I would always smile and say, ‘Well, we don’t grill the salad, of course’. Salad to the Spanish is sacred, so when I came to Australia not bound by the same restraint, I thought why the hell not.

We composed a salad of baby gem, radicchio and chicory, which we finished with glistening slices of warm guanciale (an Italian cured meat) and fresh pecans from my friend’s farm. Grilling lettuce and bitter leaves lifts them to hero status, creating a beautiful balance of lightly charred outer leaves and a caramelised body. The radicchio softens and sweetens on the grill while the centres of the tight heads of baby gem retain a characteristic crunch.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 baby gem lettuces, halved
1 radicchio, quartered
2 chicories (endives), halved
olive oil
sea salt
zest of 1/2 orange
12 slices guanciale (cured pork jowl), sliced thinly
100g fresh pecans, shelled

For the dressing

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons apple wine vinegar
2 tablespoons pedro ximenez vinegar
pinch sea salt
60ml grapeseed oil
60ml extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. 1. Prepare your embers and arrange a grill directly on top.
  2. 2. Prepare the dressing. Combine the vinegars with the salt and, whisking continuously, gradually add the oils until emulsified.
  3. 3. Spray the split lettuce heads lightly with olive oil and grill for 2–3 minutes on each side until caramelised and lightly charred. Remove, season with salt and orange zest, and toss in the dressing.
  4. 4. Place the guanciale on a metal tray 20 cm (8 in) above the embers and gently warm until translucent.
  5. 5. Divide the leaves and guanciale between warm bowls, finish with fresh pecans broken and scattered over, and serve immediately.
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