Chef Of The Month March 2015: Sam Carter

Sam Carter,
Carter at the Sun Inn, Kirkby Lonsdale

Sam Carter returned to Kirkby Lonsdale early in 2014, to retake the reigns as head chef at the Sun Inn.

He started working in the kitchen aged just 16, and promptly got rushed to the doctor's before his first service - a very quick lesson in kitchen safety practices. It didn't diminish his desire though, and he quickly learned to be more careful.

From his first forays in a kitchen in London, his desire to learn about classical techniques at source prompted him to work in Italy, where he learned the fundaments of pasta - which now features on his menu in the form of a single Ox cheek raviolo with a beef consomme. A simple dish, but with the added horseradish foam, it delivers a subtle sharpness, without intruding with unnecessary textures, allowing the pasta to take centre stage.

His time in France gave him some invaluable insight into the classics. Particularly his knowledge of sauces was developed during his time there. These days, in a kitchen with limited space, he manages to control five different sauces, glazes and jus, each paired with a particular dish for optimum flavour balance.

In Switzerland, he learned more about looking at the produce of the land in the direct vicinity. These days, many chefs pride themselves in their local and seasonal sourcing. He still holds true to this philosophy, and he likes to build strong and long standing relationships with his suppliers and producers. He relies on those around him to provide more knowledge and inspiration for his dishes.

The west coast of Ireland, arguably provided him with one of the greatest life changing experiences. Not only did he get to immerse himself in the local seafood. It is also where he met his future wife! He then settled in Cumbria, working at the Sun Inn in Kirkby Lonsdale. After a brief spell near Windsor, his desire to be in closer contact with local produce, closer to great farms and closer to great seafood prompted him to move back to the Sun Inn, where the restaurant has now been
renamed after him.

His ambition at Carter at the Sun Inn, is to provide exciting food. Simple, flavoursome but with modern twists, both in technique and flavour pairings. He wants to indulge his customers and provide an all-round memorable dining experience.




Dish

Short rib of Beef, Carrot, Mustard, Cabbage, Fondant potatoes, Parsnips

For the beef (makes 12-15 portions):
Ingredients

  • 1 whole Short rib of Beef (Jacob's ladder), bones in
  • 6 large onions, peeled and quartered
  • 6 large carrots, peeled, topped and tailed and halved
  • 2 whole heads of celery, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 50 grams of thyme
  • 50 grams of rosemary
  • 2 litres of veal stock
  • 1.5 litres of chicken stock
  • 1.5 litres of red wine


Method

Place a large roasting tray on the hob (or several hobs at once). Add oil. While the tray is heating up, season the beef all over generously.

Carefully place the beef in the tray and seal off the outside to an even colouring. This will create the Maillard reaction that gives the sweet-savoury flavour to the beef.

Place the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and rosemary in a separate hot tray.

Season and then caramelise the vegetables. Add the red wine, and while this warms through, mix the veal and chicken stocks, before pouring this in.

Place the sealed beef in top of the vegetables. Cover with a single layer of baking parchment, then a double layer of tinfoil to seal off the entire tray. The parchment protects the meat from direct contact with the tinfoil - and prevents the foil from sticking to it!

Place the tray in an oven at 130 degrees C for 8 hours.

Take a clean tray and line the bottom with baking parchment. Remove the tray from the oven, drain off the remaining liquid and discard the vegetables.

Carefully remove the bones from the beef. Then gently transfer the beef onto the clean tray, making sure it stays whole. Cover with another layer of baking parchment. Place yet another tray on top, in which you can place a large pot of water. You want as much weight to weigh down on the beef, to get a good even pressing. Leave this to one side, while it cools to room temperature.

Place the trays and the weights in a fridge, and let stand for 12 hours.

After 12 hours, remove the tray from the fridge, and place the beef on a chopping board. Portion the beef into 10oz portions.

For the purée (Makes 12-15 portions):
Ingredients

  • 3 large carrots, peeled, topped and tailed, sliced to 5mm thickness
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
  • 250ml of vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Vegetable oil

Method

Heat a little vegetable oil and about 2 knobs of butter in a medium saucepan. Sweat the onions and garlic slowly, until soft, but not coloured. Remember to season them. Add the carrots, season and let stew over a medium heat until softened, but not caramelised.

Add the vegetable stock. You want this to cover about 80% of the carrots - any more, and the purée will come out too loose!

Transfer the contents to a Thermomix and blitz at full speed for 90 seconds. Add the wholegrain mustard, and blitz for another 2 minutes at full speed.

Fill a bowl halfway with ice cubes and water, place another bowl over this, and pass the purée through a fine sieve or chinois into the top bowl. You want this to cool down as fast as possible, or the colour will mute from a yellowish orange to a brownish yellow.

Move the bowl to a blast chiller, if available, or the bottom shelf of a fridge (which is always the coldest - heat travels upwards!)

For the cabbage (makes approx. 12-15 portions):
Ingredients

  • 1 whole head of Savoy cabbage, picked and chiffonade
  • Butter

Method

Blanch the cabbage briefly in hot water, with a good few pinches of salt. Ideally, about 10 grams of salt per litre of water used.

After about 30-60 seconds, strain the cabbage and immediately transfer to an ice bath, to stop any residual heat from overcooking the cabbage.

For the fondant potatoes (makes 12 portions):
Ingredients

  • 24 cylindrical fondants (pont neuf would work, but cylinders work better aesthetically)
  • 250 grams of unsalted butter, diced
  • 5 strands of saffron
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 300ml of vegetable stock
  • Salt

Method

Heat a large frying pan, cover the base with vegetable oil. Season the potatoes and place in the pan.

Add thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Keep the potatoes moving in the pan - you want en even colouring all around.

When evenly golden brown, add the butter. When melted, but not browning, add the vegetable stock and saffron strands. Place the whole pan in an oven at 180 degrees C for about 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes, check if the fondants are ready, using the tip of a small sharp knife. If there is little to resistance, then they are ready. If there is any resistance, or the potatoes stick to the knife when you remove the tip, then they need a little longer.

Remove from the pan as quickly as possible and place them on a clean tray lined with a dry cloth.

Leave to cool to room temperature, then cover with baking parchment and cling film.

Place in fridge.

For the piccolo parsnips:
Ingredients

  • 24 piccolo parsnips
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 knobs of butter
  • Salt

Method

Heat a large frying pan, covering the base with vegetable oil. Add the butter. When hot, place the parsnips in the pan, season and pan roast until evenly golden brown.

Place them on a clean tray lined with a dry cloth. Leave to cool to room temperature, then cover with baking parchment and cling film.

Place in fridge.

For plating:
Ingredients

  • 150ml of veal jus
  • 24 nasturtium leaves, refreshed in ice water, then drained on a clean dry cloth
  • Vegetable stock

To serve (4 portions):

Place 4 portions of the beef in a warm sauce pan with veal jus. Cover the beef in jus to heat through, then place on a tray in the oven at 180 degrees C, for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for another 8 minutes in a warm place, or under hot lights.

Heat a saucepan with 2 knobs of butter and add about 100 grams of the Savoy cabbage.

When starting to steam, add about 40 ml of vegetable stock and emulsify.

Heat about 50ml of the carrot purée in a saucepan. Do not let boil, just gently warm through over a low heat, or it will discolour too much.

Place 8 fondants and 8 parsnips in a hot oven-proof frying pan with about 4 knobs of butter. Crisp up the outside, then add approx. 50 ml of vegetable stock and place the pan in the oven at 180 degrees for about 6 minutes.

Place a spoonful of the warm purée in the centre of a large bowl. Use a spoon to smooth this out to a large circle.

On one side of the circle, place a spoonful of the cabbage (drained on a dry cloth).

Gently place the beef on the cabbage.

Drain the fondants and parsnips on a dry cloth, and place around the beef.

Sauce the dish with the veal jus.

To finish, add 2-3 nasturtium leaves (depending on size) for colour and a slightly sharp sour note.