Friday, October 19, 2012

Ensalada Murciana con Queso Murcia al Vino

I am a big fan of José Andrés and his cooking.  I have watched all of the episodes of his PBS show, Made in Spain.  (Actually, I have watched those shows several times each.)  Clare bought me a copy of his book, Made in Spain, and, every once in a while, I have made one of his recipes.

Recently, my parents came to visit and I decided to make them a meal from the Made in Spain cookbook.  I decided to make this dish -- Ensalada Murciana con Queso Murcia al Vino or Drunken Goat Cheese and Tomato Salad -- as the starter.  

Although this dish appears fairly simple, it takes some skill.  I was limited in one respect -- I did not have an apple corer -- so that I could not get the cores cut as called for in the recipe.  I also sliced the cheese in a different way.  Rather than cutting 1/2 inch sticks, I cut slices, primarily because of the cut of the cheese that I got from the store. However, the skill really is needed when it comes to getting the "tomato fillets" -- the seeds -- which José describes as the "hidden caviar" in the tomato.  He admits that it takes a lot of work, "but along the way," according to José, "you're exploring the wonders of the tomato and transforming your salad into something truly special."

This dish was very special and very delicious.  However, I was unable to recreate the dish as it is depicted in Made in Spain.  Presentation has always been my weak point, but it gives me an opportunity to improve. 

Recipe from José Andrés, Made in Spain, p. 37
Serves 4

4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes
4 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
4 ripe plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon Spanish aged sherry vinegar
8 ounces of Murcia al Vino, cut into slices
1/2 cup of good quality black olives
Fresh thyme sprigs
Fresh chervil sprigs

1.  Prepare the beefsteak tomatoes.  Using an apple corer, cut out the centers of the beefsteak tomatoes.  Trim off the stem end of the cores, cut the cores in half and set aside.  Slice the tomatoes in half.  Place a grater over a large mixing bowl.  Rub the cut surface of the tomatoes over the grater until all the flesh is grated. Discard the skin.  Season the tomato pulp with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a little salt and set aside.   

2.  Prepare the plum tomatoes.  Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom of each plum tomato.  Locate the fleshy dividing wall of one segment inside the tomato.  Slice alongside the dividing wall and open up the flesh of the tomato to expose the seeds. Remove the seeds and their pulp by slicing around the ore of the tomato.  Set the seeds aside.  The aim is to keep the pulp of the seeds together to create tomato-seed "fillets" that are separate from the firmer tomato flesh.  Finely dice the tomato flesh and set aside.

3.  Complete the dish.  Whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar in a bowl and season to taste with salt.  Spread the grated tomato pulp on a serving platter.  Sprinkle the diced plum tomatoes on top of the pulp.  Arrange the tomato cores on top.  Place the tomato-seed "fillets" around the platter.  Top with the cheese and olives and drizzle with the dressing.  Garnish with thyme, chervil and sea salt.


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