The Evolution Of a Dish
By Douglas Elder, Head Chef
I am often asked how we come up with ideas for the dishes here at Brown Brothers. The answer to that is wide and varied. At any given time there will be dozens of ideas floating around in my brain. Some have been there for a while, some are brand new, and some often just need a little finishing touch and they will be complete. In the first place an idea may come whilst I am looking at a new cookbook or magazine, it may be a variation on a dish that we have already had on the menu or simply in a conversation with another chef. The process of putting a new dish on the menu can range from a simple idea that flows seamlessly to the final dish, to an excruciatingly long process where nothing comes together.
To give you an idea of this process I will discuss one of the recent additions to the entrée menu - Mustard poached Milawa quail, black pudding polpette, pickled pumpkin and apples.
This dish has been on the backburner for a few months now, but it is now that we are moving into autumn that it has come to fruition. The original idea stemmed from the making of the black pudding polpette. We get wonderful black pudding from Morrsion Sreet Butchers in Wodonga and it is often on the menu. One day we made this wonderful little polpette to put on the charcuterie board. The polpette is made from stale bread, egg, garlic and black pudding, mixed together, rolled and then fried till crisp. After tasting them, the thought of how well these would go with quail popped into my head and from there the dish started to take form.
After living in the North-East for nearly 10 years now, I have a fairly good grasp of the seasons and what is available locally. As soon as the thought of quail and black pudding polpette dish started, I knew that the combination of apple, pumpkin and walnuts would be the perfect marriage. Unfortunately, we were still in summer when this happened, so a couple of months later, we were finally able to put the dish together.
Unfortunately, the finishing garnishes were not quite there. Yes, apple, pumpkin and walnuts, but in what form, what flavours, what textures? The incumbent dish of ‘Quail and wild rabbit terrine’ had poached apple balls and apple gel on it and these garnishes were to be moved onto this dish, as was the spiced walnut praline. The pumpkin was the bugbear! Pumpkin has a natural sweetness, and with the apples and walnut praline already there, that was not what I needed. It was at this time that I was flicking through a magazine and saw a recipe that contained pickled pumpkin. I knew that it would be perfect. The touch of tartness was exactly what the dish needed to balance out the richness of the meats and the sweetness of the other garnishes.
The dish has been on the menu for a couple of weeks now and we have been getting great feedback for it, and the matching wine, 2008 Cellar Door Release Pinot Grigio Rose. In the following photos you can see how this dish is plated.
The quail is poached and sliced and placed on the plate, followed by two dots of apple gel.
Two poached apple balls are placed on the gel, one topped with spiced walnut praline. Dots of pumpkin puree are then added.
Cubes of pickled pumpkin are placed around and baby chervil is used to garnish.
Two black pudding are fried and added at the last moment.
At the table, enjoy.