Monday, May 05, 2014

Charred Corn Husk Dressing and Dip

Chefs tend to be secretly proprietary with their pet recipes, sharing with the "public" on TV and in magazines and cookbooks, always leaving out some ingredient or special technique employed to convince home cooks there's just no way we can ever be as good as them. Such may or may not be the case with the following recipe, culled from Bon Appetit magazine and submitted by the head chef of NYC's Seasonal Restaurant and Wine Bar.

No worries either way because Cafe Drake HRV made this recipe twice and perfected it with a couple of minor tweaks, as below. The leftover charred corn husk oil keeps for about two weeks in the fridge and we're mixing it with mild rice vinegar for light salad dressings with a grassy/smokey top note. It's also pretty wonderful drizzled over room-temperature steamed and sliced beets; add a few micro-greens and a sprinkling of coarse salt and you've got an elegant and unusual starter course or side dish. The dressing itself - illustrated below - is more perishable and should be eaten within a few days.

Let's get going:

Begin by removing the husks from one ear of corn. Trim away any truly withered tops and discard the driest outer layer to avoid burning in the oven. We want a nice char, not a kitchen fire. Don't use any of the silks, at all, as they're terribly bitter. Now might be a nice time to boil that denuded ear of corn however . . .

Heat the broiler and if you have the option choose the HIGH setting. Place corn husks in a single layer on a large baking sheet or two smaller ones. Broil for approximately 6 minutes, until the husks have a few dark spots and are browned all over. No need to turn but check often for signs of burning.

Put charred corn husks in a blender along with 1 cup vegetable oil and blend until the husks are shredded into tiny pieces. Pulsing is effective.

This is what your blender will look like, a bowl of new mowed grass.

Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl or measuring cup.

Press down gently with a spoon to extract as much oil as possible from the ground husks. Don't worry if a few minute particles end up in the oil. Call them Flavoring Agents! Now take 1/4 cup of corn husk oil and return to the blender - rinsed first, natch - along with
5 oz. tofu (crumbled), 2 T. lemon juice, 2 T. cider vinegar and 1 T. honey or agave nectar. Blend until smooth and then season to taste with salt and black pepper.
And the finished product. Dressing. Um, dip. Cafe Drake HRV likes a small bowl with bread for dipping, enjoyed alongside pre-dinner cocktails.

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