Work of Art: Terrine di Pulpo

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I was thankful that Chef made us all come in at the normal time because I literally spent all day on the lovely dish pictured above. I found my order of two medium-sized octopuses (octopi?) had arrived safe and sound sitting in the walk-in atop the ice on the fish station.

The first thing I did was get them into the pressure cooker. I had read a handful of terrine di pulpo recipes, some involve boiling the octopus and others even cooked it sous vide in an immersion circulator. When it was done, I was left with this:

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RELEASE THE KRAKEN! Anyway I had to work quickly to break it down while it was hot so I could compress it in a porcelain terrine mold. I crossed my fingers that the natural gelatin would set in time for dinner service. Meanwhile, I moved on to the accoutrements.

I consulted the sous chefs to see if they had any ideas or recipes for the sauces I planned to make. Armed with their input and what I had googled the night before, I started squeezing an assortment of citrus fruits to be heated into a syrupy reduction, the base of my citrus emulsion. (Not gonna lie, I felt pretty cool being a professional cook in a professional kitchen making an emulsion.)

Next up was the shiso leaf oil. I had always wanted to make a green herb oil and this particular one looks so lovely. I briefly blanched the leaves before whizzing in a blender with oil and passing it through a coffee filter. It retained its color through service and looked stunning against the white plate.

The rest of my day was spent taking care of the beef tongues that needed to get into some brine, making the rest of the garnishes (brunoise fresno chilies, orange segment supreme, microgreens, etc.), and getting ready for service… in the middle of happy hour, a slow one at that, Chef and I unmolded the terrine and we played around with plating ideas.

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The chorus of approval from passers-by was unanimous: that looks so badass. It was an awesome feeling to have proposed and created a new dish from start to finish. That’s the cool thing about the Specials Board at our restaurant – you never know when a new addition might be one of our line cooks trying something new with Chef’s blessing. It was a good day.

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