Sometimes we are inspired by an idea. Burrata at its best is a thin skin of mozzarella stretched over a mixture of soft chese curds and heavy cream. It is often served drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Burrata is delicate with a range of textures and flavors that unfold in your mouth. It is a singular taste sensation. As we discussed ideas for dessert preparations we were talking about pudding versus custard. In particular the smooth, creamy mouthfeel of pudding and the delicate texture of perfectly baked custard cups and how to bring them together. Our solution was this banana burrata. Although meant to be a dessert course, the burrata is dressed with lemon olive oil, fleur de sel and cracked black pepper. We found that these savory accents really showcased the banana's sweet, soft intensity. Now that we have the technique we can exprapolate flavors and see what evolves next. As always please remember that the better your ingredients, the better your finished dish.
900 grams half and half
600 grams sliced banana
400 grams maple syrup
200 grams banana chips
5.2 grams salt
6.4 grams agar agar
0.7 grams locust bean gum
Put the half and half, sliced banana, maple syrup, banana chips and salt into a medium saucepot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes and then strain the mixture, discarding the solids. Transfer the banana base to a blender and turn onto low. When a vortex forms in the mixture sprinkle in the agar and the locust bean gum and blend for 15 seconds to disperse the powders. Transfer the banana mixture into a clean pot and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow boil and cook the banana mixture for 5 minutes and then pour the base into a Pyrex baking dish to cool.
Divide the banana gel into 3 equal parts. Reserve the first part in the refrigerator. Put the second part of banana base into the blender and puree until it is silky smooth. Pour it into a medium bowl. Put the third part of the banana base on a cutting board and chop into fine irregular pieces that resemble the curds of cottage cheese. Add the chopped banana puree to the bowl with the puree and mix gently with a spatula to combine. It should look like soft cottage cheese. Cut 16 10-by-10-cm pieces of plastic wrap and lay them flat on the counter. Put 2 tablespoons of the banana mixture in the center of each square. Pull the corners of the plastic up around the mixture so that it is completely encased and then twist the plastic wrap so the banana is encased in a small parcel. Use a small piece of butchers twine to tie the end of the parcel so the banana remains tightly wrapped in an oval shape. Put these parcels on a flat tray and put them in the freezer to solidify, at least 3 hours. Any left over mixed banana may be reserved with the banana gel in the refrigerator.
Remove the parcels from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Put them back on the tray and return them to the freezer. Put the reserved banana gel in a small, deep pot and slowly warm it up so that it becomes liquid. Keep it over a low flame and stir occasionally. When it is completely melted, remove half of the frozen banana pieces from the freezer. Have a second clean tray nearby. Use a fine metal skewer to pierce one of the the frozen banana pieces and dip it into the melted banana mixture. Completely submerge the frozen banana in the melted mixture and then pull out. A skin of banana should have formed on the outside of the frozen banana. Dip the banana again into the melted mixture to add a second layer to the exterior. Once it is out of the hot mixture, gently place the coated banana on the clean tray, carefully removing the skewer. If the skewer hole does not close when the skewer is removed, use a small spoon to apply a drop of banana over the hole and to seal the skin. Repeat this procedure with the other pieces of frozen banana and move on to the second set of frozen banana. When all the banana is dipped and coated, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place the banana burrata into the refrigerator to continue thawing overnight. When thawed, the interior will be soft and creamy while the exterior will keep the banana encased.