Are you avant-garde? Cast the first stone. Andoni Luis Aduriz, the groundbreaking chef of Mugaritz, did just that in 2011 when he conceived an iconic recipe, no less imitated than his famous watermelon carpaccio. It was inspired by an age-old Andean technique, brought into contemporary culinary circles.
It belongs to the Bullian ancestry of trompe-l'oeil (or better, trampantojos), but it tastes like a paradoxical resemblance—the Andoni Luis Aduriz's kaolin potato, a dish dating back to 2011, has been the subject of countless imitation attempts.
The original idea from Mugaritz's lab drew inspiration from Andean tuntas, potatoes preserved for lean times in the icy Latin American highlands, rinsed in pure river water, and then exposed to the sun to dry and freeze. An ancient technique, three millennia old, from which bizarre whitish balls with velvety pulp emerge, which need to be rehydrated and, of course, cooked before consumption. They appear almost like stones at first glance.
This archaic suggestion is introduced into the circuits of contemporaneity, linking to the avant-garde theme of deception. But the game also involves a play between senses, as the sight suggests an inedible texture that the bite contradicts, taking the guest's expectations by surprise. And it's not just about the concept; it's also sensory, as it creates a completely original contrast in textures between the creamy flesh and the crispy coating, which would normally become limp when in contact.
The recipe itself appears quite simple, (almost) ordinary boiled potatoes with a classic garlic mayonnaise. But it took thirteen attempts to perfect the formula of colorants and techniques for creating the perfect stone. And it's essential to use chérie potatoes, chosen for their small size, tough skin, creamy texture, and sweetness of the flesh.
Mugaritz's Edible Stones Recipe
Ingredients for 8 people
For the confit garlic
- 500 ml of extra virgin olive oil 5
- 1 garlic bulb
Pour the oil into a small deep saucepan and place it on the stove or a low, stable heat source, making sure the temperature doesn't rise too much. When the oil is warm, add the unpeeled garlic cloves and let them simmer gently for about 2 hours. They should become soft, easy to peel, and completely infused with oil. Once ready, drain the oil, peel the garlic, crush it, pass it through a fine sieve, and set it aside.
For the coating
- 60 ml of kaolin
- 40 g of lactose
- 1 g of black vegetable coloring
- 0.5 g of salt
- 80 ml of water
Combine kaolin, lactose, black coloring, and salt in a bowl, then mix gradually with water. Initially, the mixture may seem too dry, but after resting for 1 hour, it should develop a yogurt-like texture, suitable for glazing the cooked potatoes, thick but not slippery.
For the potatoes
- 16 small chérie potatoes
- 3 liters of water
- 24 g of salt
Clean the potatoes with a soft brush without peeling them. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, without overcooking them. Drain and transfer to a baking sheet. Insert the flat side of a skewer into each potato, then insert the pointed end into the same hole, reaching roughly the center of the tuber. Work the kaolin mixture until it becomes smooth and the right consistency. Dip the potatoes, completely glazing them. Insert the skewers into the holes of a perforated baking tray, keeping them upright.
Bake in a low-temperature oven (50°C) for about 30 minutes until the coating dries, forming a crispy crust. This contrasts with the softness of the interior pulp, which will be tender and creamy thanks to the protective shell.
For the aïoli
- 40 g of garlic confit
- 1 egg yolk
- 60 ml of extra virgin olive oil
Place the garlic in a tall container, add the egg yolk, and blend with an immersion blender until you get an emulsion. Gradually incorporate the olive oil, ensuring the emulsion remains stable. When ready, add salt to taste and transfer to a bowl, covering it.
Heat some smoothed river stones of the same size as the kaolin-coated potatoes in a 70°C oven for 5-7 minutes: this will give the final touch to the presentation and keep the potatoes warm longer. Arrange the tubers among the stones. Serve a small pile of aioli on individual plates. The potatoes should be eaten with your hands, trying the first bite without sauce to elevate the contrast in textures between the coating and the content. Then dip them in the aioli.
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