CHEF BRIAN ALBERG’S CHILLED ARUGULA PURÉE
WITH BUTTER–POACHED TURNIPS
Chef’s Note: It’s worth making this pureed chilled soup–the very essence of spring– for the amazing green color alone. But be assured, it’s delicious too. The arugula puree has just enough orange juice added to balance the sharpness of the arugula. The only other ingredient is a little extra virgin olive oil. Baby turnips poached in butter, served warm, resting half-submerged in the bright green liquid and a sprinkling of Alder-smoked sea salt on top complete the dish. It’s beautiful and tastes as good as it looks.
The arugula puree can be prepared in advance and refrigerated, but should be prepared the day you want to use it. The turnips should be poached just before serving.
Ingredients & Tools
Arugula, a large handful per serving
Orange juice, the juice from 1 orange per serving
Baby turnips, 2 or 3 per serving depending on size
Butter, enough for poaching the turnips
Alder smoked sea salt
To make the arugula puree: Put arugula in blender, add orange juice and puree until the arugula is just liquified. Add olive oil and puree briefly to emulsify. Leave the arugula mixture in the blender container with the top on and refrigerate until ready to plate the dish. This can be done several hours before service. Just before plating, blend again for few seconds.
Prep the turnips for poaching: Peel the turnips with a paring knife or kitchen peeler. In the pictures you’ll see that I “tourneéd” the turnips–giving them fluted sides. This technique we sometimes use for making vegetables more uniform in size; it’s more than you need to do at home, but if you’re working on your knife skills, you’ll find it fun, or frustrating–kind of like golf. (I suggest having a few extra turnips on hand.)
Poach the turnips in beurre monte’ (see Chefs Notes, below) until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Use the kitchen thermometer to monitor the temperature of the poaching butter and don’t let it exceed about 185 degrees.
Chef’s Note: poaching the turnips in butter
There’s a bit more to using butter as a poaching liquid than you might think. Above about 160 degrees–where poaching takes place–butter breaks down. The solution: make a “beurre monté.” Beurre monte’ is a simple technique for preparing melted butter that remains emulsifed at temperatures higher than that when butter usually breaks down. Beurre monté may refer either to the melted butter sauce itself, or to the method of making it. Thomas Keller, Chef of the French Laundry, brought butter poaching and this use of beurre monte’ into the public eye when he began poaching lobster in butter. Beurre’ monte is a great technique to add to your kitchen repertoire. Use it to infuse meat, fish and vegetables with the flavor of butter. Until you have tried this a few times, use the kitchen thermometer to regulate the temperature of the poaching butter.
Making beurre monté: boil a very small quantity of water (1-4 tablespoons). When water comes to a boil, turn the heat down and start whisking the cold butter into the water, one or two chunks at a time. Add more butter whenever the chunks have melted. Once the emulsion is started, more butter can be added a little at a time. Continue adding butter while whisking until you have the desired quantity of beurre monté. The beurre monté must then be held warm, but under 190 degrees Fahrenheit or else it will break.
How much butter is enough? Place the turnips in a large enough pan, side by side; add just enough water to cover. Remove the turnips and set aside, Measure the water in the pan. You’ll need this amount of butter to cover and poach the turnips
This is a dish where the serving container can make a special contribution to the presentation. We like white bowls sized so the turnips are about half submerged in the puree, but at the end of the day, it’s about the flavors. Pour or ladle a serving portion of the arugula puree into the bowl. Carefully place the turnips in liquid side by side. Add a sprinkling of Alder smoked sea salt.