Thursday, 3 April 2014

The restaurant at Newton Johnson

Even though these guys haven't been up and running for very long they not only have their ducks in a row, they've got them quacking to the same song sheet and well seasoned at the same time.  My first visit could not have been better, really slick and knowledgeable service with a smile, a fantastic wine list that is supercharged by Newton Johnson's powerful Pinot Noirs, and an open, theatrical kitchen that is overflowing with creativity and executing dishes with the precision of a German arthroscopic surgeon.  All of this and the added bonus of looking down the magnificent Hemel-en-Aarde valley.  A match made in Heaven.

Eric Bulpitt, the chef and owner has spoilt us with a stunning recipe.  Enjoy!

Jerusalem artichoke veloute, roasted pork belly, apple and nutmeg puree, nasturtiums and watercress.   

Artichoke Veloute                                    Pork Belly                                 Apple and nutmeg puree

500g  Jerusalem artichokes                    1kg pork belly                           500ml apple juice

1med onion                                               canola oil                                   10ml sugar    

500ml milk                                                 thyme                                         1tsp agar agar

500ml cream                                              garlic                                          nutmeg

1tbl butter                                                  Maldon salt

salt                                                               pepper


Sour dough croutons, nasturtiums and watercress for garnish

A delicious soup, could be a meal on its own or a very fancy first course. You can substitute the artichokes with celeriac or parsnips. To achieve good crackling on the pork belly, pour some boiling water on the skin and pat dry. The dryer the skin, the better the end product. The apple and nutmeg puree is a bit cheffy but very easy to do.

Soup: Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and place in some acidulated water to prevent them from oxidizing. In a sauce pan melt the butter and add finely sliced onion, sweat onion with a good pinch of salt till translucent and soft. Add the artichokes and just cover with milk and cream. Bring to the simmer and cook for about 30min until soft. Blend, being careful as soup will be very hot. You want to have a nice thick soup consistency do not be afraid to add more milk if needed. Reserve
Roasted pork belly: Preheat the oven to 210C. Rub the belly with the oil, salt and pepper. Place on a roasting tray with garlic and herbs. Roast for 30min at 210C turn oven down to 180C and roast for another 1hour till crispy and delicious. I will not blame you if you want to tuck in straight away but do let it rest for 20 min.

Apple and nutmeg Puree: in a pot bring the apple juice to a simmer, add a good grating of nutmeg and sugar, and reduce by exactly half. Whisk in the agar agar and simmer for two minutes to dissolve. Place on a tray and refrigerate till set. Blend set jelly in food processor, adding a little apple juice to loosen until you have a good smooth gel like consistency. Reserve
Assemble: Heat soup and place in a jug or serving bowl. Cut belly into 3 x 3cm Cubes and place in warmed soup bowls. Make a few dots of puree around the belly and garnish with nasturtiums, watercress and croutons. Pour soup at the table for dramatic effect 

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