Nik Hill is kicking arse at Duke Bistro Darlinghurst Sydney. Schooled alongside Chefs Michael Robertson and Tim Montgomery at Bathers Pavilion under Chef Serge Dansereau, then furthering his training under acclaimed Aussie expat Brett Graham at the Ledbury, Hill is the latest talent in the next generation of Aussie Chefs to stride out with his own style.
When I explored his tasting menu this week at Duke Bistro I was taken by this dish. Late at night in the kitchen after dinner I asked Nik to share a recipe (his choice.) This is it. Snap Chef! It was also my favourite of the night from a very fine menu.
Grated Duck Liver, Chardonnay Lees, Apple
Serves 6 as a starter
This is a clean way to eat duck liver, as the temperature changes it to a much lighter texture and taste. The use of water instead of milk or stock also lightens things up and drops out that metallic taste that can sometimes be associated with duck liver preparations.
Lees is sediment left in the bottom of the barrels after wine making and holds a strong, yeasty, and in the case of chardonnay a very oaky flavour.
The lees may be hard to come by, however, a reduction of a good chardonnay and some wood or oak honey in place of the sugar will suffice.
Frozen Duck Liver
225g fresh duck liver, trimmed
5 french shallots, finely sliced
300 ml pedro ximinez
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 sprigs thyme
200g butter diced
200ml chardonnay lees
180g caster sugar
2 leaves golden gelatine
3 green apples, (granny smith)
1 nip st. germain elderflower liquer
few drops olive oil
½ cup good quality gingerbread – dried and ground to crumbs
Frozen Duck Liver
Prepare this 2 days in advance.
Soak the livers in milk over night.
Sweat the shallots and garlic with the thyme in a small amount of grapeseed oil until translucent and just beginning to caramelize, deglaze with 200ml of the px. Reduce to a glaze, cool on a tray in the fridge, remove the thyme.
The next day drain the livers and rinse, pat dry, place in a bag with the shallot and sherry reduction, eggs, butter and 6g salt. Bring the bag to a consistent temperature of around 45 degrees so that the butter is softening and all the ingredients can emulsify in the blender.
Next, transfer the contents of the bag to a good blender and blend on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until smooth, pass through a fine chinois into a baking dish, cover with tinfoil and cook on half steam setting at 94C for 15-20 minutes.
If your oven does not have a steam setting, place the baking dish in a waterbath or bain marie and bake at 120C for 30 mins.
Note: You are not looking for a fine custard texture it is important to cook the liver parfait through.
Once cooked, chill in the fridge overnight with some clingfilm pressed onto the surface of the parfait.
The next day remove the clingfilm and scrape away the top 1cm of the parfait as it will be oxidized and unpleasant to eat. Transfer the parfait to the blender and puree to a smooth paste with the remaining 100ml of sherry and 200ml of cold water. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Transfer to a shallow tray and spread out evenly, the mix should now be a thin liquid. Freeze until very firm (overnight preferably)
Chop the parfait into roughly even size pieces, transfer once more to the blender and blend on high speed until it resembles fine bread crumbs, quickly transfer to an airtight container and back into the freezer until required.
Chardonnay Lees Jelly
Bring the lees and sugar to the boil to dissolve the sugar, bloom the gelatin and add to the pot, stir the gelatin in pour into a plastic container and set in the fridge until required
Place sugar, water, olive oil and elderflower liquer in a pot and bring to the boil.
Keep the liquor at a steady temperature of around 80-90 degrees
Peel and core the apples, cut in half and place in the hot poaching liquid for about 10-12 minutes or until tender.
Let them cool naturally in the liquid and chill.
Once cooled, slice finely lengthways.
Spread out 6 chilled plates.
In the centre lay down your slices of apple, one half per plate, sprinkle with a little gingerbread, top with a small spoonful of the lees jelly, place a rough spoonful of the jelly adjacent to the apples.
Next working quickly, place two heaped tablespoons of the frozen liver on top of the apples and sprinkle with a little more ginger bread, finally a few grains of salt and serve immediately.
Duke Bistro at the Flinders Hotel Darlinghurst
63 Flinders Street Surry Hills NSW Australia
+61 2 9332 3180