My Favourite Dish: Des Harris, Clooney

My Favourite Dish: Des Harris, Clooney

MY FAVOURITE DISH

Des Harris
Executive Chef - Clooney


Hawkes Bay Natural Lamb, with glazed aubergine, white miso, soya bean & puffed farro

Lamb, aubergine and miso is not unique to me - it's a combination that has been around for a while. I find Japanese food when you apply it to western food is a natural partner. I wouldn't say it's fusion food, as I'm not into fusion at all. But chefs have a catalogue of flavours and techniques that we draw upon, so when you go out to eat and you see things that may spur on an idea. I had a meal at the Royal Mail Hotel just outside of Melbourne, and they did the same prep with the aubergine and miso but a completely different garnish so I saw that and thought 'I can build a dish from that and take it a different tangent'.



So we have some lamb rack that we roast on the bone, and we present that off the bone. We also have some slow cooked lamb loin, which we cook in a waterbath which is a new way chefs are approaching cooking meat at the moment. I find when it's on the bone it need to be roasted on the bone, and that helps keep it moist which is really nice.



So alongside the two different applications of lamp with primary cuts, there's the aubergine which we glaze with white miso and caramalise it in a pan. They're the primary flavours and the dish is finished with a whole lot of supporting acts - some puffed farro which we boil and dehydrate and then fry at a really high temperature so that it gets a really good nutty texture. That's finished with colarty, which is a relative of German cabbage, and it's cooked in miso stock and finished mixed with soy beans, miso and truffle foam and a little bit of date for a little sweetness. There are quite a few components on there!

It's definitely a complicated dish and going forward this is where we are taking the food. In the past it's been very building block orientated there are certain classics that will never be taken off the menu but going forward we need to extend ourselves and complicate the food but retain the importance of how it eats, so it can't be too itsy bitsy. There has to be a reason why its all there.



The dish has been on the menu for a few months now. I could change the menu every month, but its not going to be as strong as a menu that develops and evolves. I got a venison and duck sauce that can't come off the menu - I've fought for it to come off but people complained straight away, so it's fixed. It won the Metro's best dish last year, so when they go out for dinner people think 'i'll go to Clooneys and have that venison dish'. I can't take that off the menu.



This dish is my favourite because it's a more involved dish and it's progressive for the style of Clooney. I think it displays more technique from the kitchen and shows that I'm becoming braver to approach more complex dishes - bearing in mind it’s a very fast kitchen and can turn pear shaped quickly. Customers love it, but I’d have to take it off before it becomes a staple!


Wow! Rich, earthy, full of different flavours and textures and utterly delicious. A must-have dish!

As told to Jono Park.

For more from our My Favourite Dish series click here.



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Content updated: 19/10/2019 16:34

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