Joan Roca

El Celler de Can Roca

We know of a great number of successful partnerships that belong to world’s very best: twins, brilliant duos, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, but in the case of the Rocas, we are dealing with three exceptional brothers who own and run their own restaurant in Girona, Catalonia. Their secret, is that each of them has his own unique speciality. Joan, the eldest, is the chef. Jordi, the youngest, is pâtissier, and Josep in the middle, is a sommelier with an excellent sense of smell. The restaurant started when their mother opened a modest restaurant for blue-collar workers whilst their father worked as a bus driver to bring in extra money. At that time, their parents never imagined that their three sons would ever be awarded three Michelin stars. The brothers are renowned for being inventive, for their unusual perspective on cooking and wine, the complexity of the dishes they cook, but also for the kitchen equipment they design. It is the chef, Joan, who answers our questions about veal: “In order to work with such a delicate product in the best way possible, you need the best possible techniques. Things need meaning, and there is always a reason behind the choices I make: I don’t just make them for the fun of it. One reason might be my desire to combine evolution with tradition, which is what we do with our calf’s tail. If a dish like this meets everyone’s expectations, it may well stay on the menu for years, evolving as it goes.” The calf’s tail has been on the menu here since 1999.

Calf’s tail with onions and Ratafia

For the ragout, rinse the marrowbone for 24 hours in ice-cold water and refresh the water every 6 hours. Put the marrowbone in a pan with cold water and bring to the boil slowly. Cool on a rack and remove the marrow from the bone. Finely chop the vegetables and sweat them in some oil before adding the seasoned pieces of calf’s tail. Deglaze with the red wine, cover with water and simmer gently for 4 hours. When done, remove the tail from the bouillon and reduce the liquid with the vegetables to 200ml. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and set to one side. Pull the meat apart; put plastic food wrap on the counter and distribute the meat over it. Place the marrow bone in the centre, season with salt and roll up tightly. Allow to set in the fridge then slice into portions of 50g each and wrap in caul fat. Just before serving, fry on the plancha until golden brown. For the sauce, whisk the kuzu with the water whilst the ratafia is added to the bouillon from the calf’s tail and brought to the boil. Add the kuzu one tablespoon at a time, and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm in a bainmarie. For the puree, sweat the onion rings (without colouring them) in 30g butter, then mix with the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Rub through a sieve and season with salt. Keep the puree warm in a bain-marie. For the garnish, cook the shallots in their skins, for 5 minutes in salted water, then immerse in ice water. Peel and cut in half. Blanch the Figueira onion in five times and cook for another 5 minutes in salted water. Immerse in iced water, peel the onion and cut into strips that are 3mm wide and 1 cm long. Cut the green tops off the spring onions so that you are left with 15 mm lengths of white stem. Blanch briefly and then cut the lengths of white stem in half. For the gel, cut the onions into rings, sweat in olive oil until golden brown, add the water and reduce by half. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve, season with salt and thicken with xanthan gum. Leave to cool then blend into a gel using a blender. Arrange all of the elements harmoniously on a plate.

Serves 4
8 chives, 8 borage flowers.

For the calf’s tail ragout

500g marrowbone, 2kg calf’s tail (in pieces), 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 leeks, 500ml red wine, 3l water, caul fat.

For the sauce
200g reduced bouillon from the tail, 15g ratafia, 20g kuzu, 15g water.

For the onion puree

300g onions, 30g + 20g butter, 50g water, 0.4g xanthan gum.

For the onion garnish

4 shallots, 1 Figueira onion, 4 spring onions.

For the onion gel

1kg onions, 500g water, 2g xanthan gum, salt, olive oil.

“Steak Tartare”

For the mustard emulsion, whisk the egg yolk in a food processor, and add olive oil one tablespoon at a time to give an airy consistency. Add the mustard and put to one side. For the tartare, finely chop the meat with a knife, add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and put in the fridge. For the ketchup, centrifuge the tomatoes, take 150g of the juice and mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Simmer and reduce gently for 3 hours, season with salt and set to one side. For the oloroso currants, mix the cold water with the alginate and mix the sherry with the xanthan gum and the calcium chloride. Using a small, deep spoon, drop portions of the sherry mix into the alginate bath. Remove after a few minutes and rinse well in fresh water. Put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar, and allow to set for 4 hours so that they take on the shape and appearance of currants. For the marmalade, wash the lemon, cut into thin slices, remove the pips and chop finely. Cook the sugar to 145°C/293°F, add the lemon and the whole capers and simmer for one minute. Add the chopped capers and the lemon juice, and simmer for 2 hours on low heat. Cool and set to one side. For the béarnaise sauce, heat the vinegar, infuse with tarragon and heat the veal jus separately. Thicken the jus with clarified butter, add the vinegar and thicken some more with xanthan gum. For the mustard shots, mix the egg yolks with the grainy mustard and pasteurise at 85°C/185°F. Dissolve the soaked gelatin in this mixture and season with salt to taste. Pour into a squeezable bottle and squeeze drops into the liquid nitrogen. Remove the droplets with a slotted spoon and store in the freezer. Put batches of 8 souffléed potatoes next to each other and sprinkle each batch of 8 with either paprika, Szechuan pepper, curry powder or with melted butter and chopped chives. Press the tartare into a rectangular mould, place 4 different souffléed potatoes on top and garnish with oloroso currants, mustard shots and some praline. Finish with the sauce and the mustard leaves.

Serves 4
delicate mustard leaves, hazelnut praline.

For the mustard emulsion
10g egg yolk, 45g olive oil, 8g grainy mustard.

For the steak

200g topside, 1.7g Worcestershire sauce, 13g mustard emulsion, 20g finely-chopped shallot, 10g finely-chopped capers, 10g finely-chopped gherkins, 1 drop Tabasco.

For the ketchup
250g tomatoes, 20g sugar, 10g sherry-vinegar, 1.5g Worcestershire sauce.

For the oloroso currants

500g water, 2.5 alginate, 125g oloroso sherry, 1.5g xanthan gum, 0.9 calcium chloride, 100g sugar.

For the lemon marmalade

125g lemon, 100g sugar, 40g whole capers, 35g chopped capers, 25g lemon juice.

For the béarnaise

100g veal jus, 60g balsamic vinegar, 2.4g freeze-dried tarragon, 40g clarified butter, 2g xanthan gum. For the mustard shots 250g cream, 50g egg yolk, 25g grainy mustard, 3.7g gelatin leaves.

For the souffléed potatoes
32 souffléed potatoes, 10g paprika, 10g ground Szechuan pepper, 10g curry powder, 10g chopped chives, 10g softened butter.

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