By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
One of the things that I try to emphasize with my students is that I’m old. Not only am I old, though – I’m always learning. Despite having cooked for over 35 years, I am content that I can still be shown techniques and foods in a new light without a shred of diffidence.
In our business, many chefs won’t listen and don’t appreciate advice. I’ve been there myself and shame on me for ever acting that way. It stops you from making that leap to the next step and that’s a loss, as there are so many new ways to do things that we simply may not think about, which is the very point of collaboration.
This is a trait that I try to instill in my cooks, especially when a young one (to be fair, they typically do know everything) starts rolling their eyes as I’m trying to explain an easier, better or simply different way to complete a task or finish a dish. Having been fortunate enough to work for some remarkable chefs, I learned early (but not early enough) to just stop, listen and learn. After that, it then becomes my responsibility to decide whether to employ said technique or not in my repertoire.
Recently, I had a surplus of Burrata, that amazing fresh mozzarella product that is taking our market by storm. Creamy mozzarella surrounded by the ubiquitous fresh mozzarella that adorns every menu from coast to coast, Burrata is delicious.
It is an easy thing for chefs to cling to, as the mass-produced, Joe-sixpack generic fresh mozzarella tastes like nothing but hardened whole milk. It’s just strange.
A house-made, true fresh mozzarella, though, can blow the mind. There is a tanginess to it that is absent from the market form and, when you move up the food chain to buffalo mozzarella, it gets even better. Of course, the problem with the latter is that buffalo mozz is incredibly expensive.
Along comes Burrata, a happy medium. The taste tries to mimic buffalo mozz and the texture is about the same in a good one, as the center is creamy and can have a zest to it that fills the whole mouth as you eat it. Simply put, it’s great to eat and a win-win for chefs, as it can be used at most medium price-point menus.
As I was sitting on a surplus of Burrata recently, I had to figure out a way to move it along. We bounced ideas off each other and when the prodigious 17-year old Michael said, “Why don’t we fry it? I love fried mozzarella sticks” I initially scoffed and said, “Pfft. That would never …”
But, I stopped myself and tasked him and Brandy to bread some up and give it a shot. Not only did it work, but it was delightful, rendering a large fried cheese ball that emptied onto the plate as you broke it with your knife or fork.
Accompanying it with blistered tomatoes and a tiny bit of greens (we wouldn’t want it to be too healthy), the flavors, as simple as they were, married perfectly.
Thankfully, I take my own advice on occasion and listen. And I’m glad that I did, as this old dog learned a new trick today.
Fried Burrata, Blistered Tomatoes
enough for 4
4 balls of Fried Burrata (recipe follows)
4 cups Spring mix
4 cups Blistered tomatoes with nectar (recipe follows)
Edible flower petals (optional)
- Watch your Burrata as it fries, and pull it out before it “blows out” the side
- Drain on paper towels
- Place some spring mix or baby arugula on a plate, top with Burrata and tomatoes, then drizzle with the “nectar” or juices that have accumulated
- Garnish with petals from black-eyed Susans, pansies or any other edible flower
- Serve immediately
4 4-ounce balls of Burrata
Flour to dredge
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 cups Whole milk
3 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. Dried parsley
- Set up a basic breading station starting with a seasoned flour and followed by an egg wash (eggs, milk whisked together), then the breading, which will consist of your panko, parsley, salt and pepper
- Roll one piece of cheese at a time in the flour, coating evenly
- Dip in the egg wash, then coat in the panko mixture
- Repeat step 3 one more time and place in a dry pan until ready to fry
- When ready to go, heat a fryer to 350F and fry away, making sure that you pull out the cheese before it blows out
- Drain on paper towels and keep warm until ready to plate
Blistered Tomatoes in Nectar
1 quart heirloom grape tomatoes
1 tsp. EV Olive oil
¼ c. Crisp sauvignon blanc
Salt & Pepper, as needed
- Wash the tomatoes and heat the olive oil in a pan
- When good and hot, add the tomato, ensuring that they make a good sizzle when you toss them in
- Cook for about two minutes, tossing regularly until you start to see the skins come away from those fancy ‘maters
- Add the wine and pull off the heat
- Season to taste and allow to rest for about 30 seconds, and then place in a bowl to cool
- Chill and set aside until ready to use