Pat Keenan discovers the smart kitchen and learns how to sauté the perfect scallop from a Michelin Star chef
Food with quick-cooking properties can be a little intimidating
Scallops are most definitely in this category. Mess up and the dish is spoiled and scallops are not exactly cheap to buy. Here’s the dilemma: we know that seafood raw or under-cooked can be dangerous, over-cooked they loose their delicate sweetness – even an experienced chef can deliver chewy scallops. Recently we watched as Michelin Star chef Kevin Thornton served scallops perfectly made in less than 5 minutes.
We were at the showrooms of De Deitrich at the KAL Advisory Centre, Citywest, Dublin where chef Kevin Thornton demonstrated his acknowledged cooking skills, swapping the restaurant kitchen for the new domestic range of intelligent cookers from De Deitrich. Yes, intelligent cookers, whatever next.
So what do intelligent ovens do, how smart are they ?
They can cook different types of food that need different cooking results. Use a 100% automatic cooking mode setting all the cooking parameters from time to the temperature, no preheating required – or choose a semi-automatic cooking mode – choose from up to 50 recipes, input the weight and the oven does the rest. Another 100% automatic function is for slow cooking which allows food to be cooked over a long period of time to maintain more flavour and tenderness. For pastry the system delivers 14 automatic pastry cooking methods or create your own recipe and let the oven do the rest.
I once left a pot of jam on a not-in-use cooking zone and and accidentally switched on that very zone – needless to say this did not end happily. The new De Deitrich hob would recognised that jar as a non-suitable object and refuse to cook, so eliminating that mishap.
These smart hobs will only activate when a suitable pan is placed on the cooking zone. There’s even a setting that takes away the guess work for boiling certain foods. Simply set the volume of water to be brought to the boil and once food is added just set the desired cooking time.
It was sort of encouraging for us home cooking amateurs to watch a renowned chef prepare a wild mushroom risotto topped with a parmesan tuile, sautéed scallops with a Noilly Prat sauce and more or less allow the oven take the strain. The latest De Dietrich collection has a variety of hobs, microwaves, extractor fans, dishwashers, washing machines, fridge freezers – and that ‘intelligent multifunction pyrolytic oven’ which was recently awarded the Red Dot Award for product design. Kevin talked about the new ovens, saying: “I particularly love the recipes feature as their accuracy is excellent. You can set the oven and let it do its work safe in the knowledge the dish will be perfectly cooked.”
As Kevin expertly prepared his ingredients and gave us the benefit of his expert tips, we watched, at the same time, as a De Deitrich oven pulled out all the stops to puff-up two lumps of dough into two different deliciously crispy golden loafs.
But back to the King Scallops that came to us all the way from the Atlantic fishing villages of the Beara Peninsula. Cleaned and washed, Kevin rubbed them with olive oil, then seasoned with salt and pepper. He heated a pan and sautéed the scallops; quickly browning them on both sides; placed in the oven at 170°C for just two minutes; removed and gave them a good squeeze of lemon. They were served with a Noilly Prat sauce made with vermouth, stock, crème fraîche and seasoning. The sauce is named for the Noilly Prat Vermouth but you’ll be forgiven for using another dry white vermouth. To make the sauce: pour the 600ml. stock into a a medium-sized saucepan. It is usually fish stock but Kevin thinks a chicken or vegetable stock is more suitable for the delicate taste of a scallop and in my humble opinion that makes good sense. Add 4tbsp crème fraîche or double cream and 4tbsp Noilly dry white vermouth, 85g butter cut into small pieces and a tsp of fresh thyme leafs and boil to reduced by three-quarters.
Chef Kevin Thornton with his partner Muriel, managed the once iconic Thornton’s Restaurant on St.Stephen’s Green Dublin for 26 years. It became the only Irish restaurant ever to have featured in Taste magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants – it was ranked number 25. It closed in 2016 and Kevin and Muriel decided to establish Kevin Thornton Kooks concentrating on cooking masterclasses and high-end corporate and private catering Kevin has become well known for his TV work including ‘No Experience Required’, ‘Guerrilla Gourmet’ and ‘Heat’ – all on RTE. Internationally too, on ‘Masterchef South Africa’ and ‘Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern’ on the Travel Channel. On radio he co-presenting ‘Foodtalk’ on Newstalk.