Key Ingredient: Greg Bastien emulsifies pumpkin seed oil | Key Ingredient | Chicago Reader

Key Ingredient: Greg Bastien emulsifies pumpkin seed oil 

Challenged to create a dish with a seasonally appropriate oil, the Winchester chef makes a mousseline sauce.

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The Chef: Greg Bastien (The Winchester)
The Challenger: Aaron Mooney (Webster's Wine Bar)
The Ingredient: Pumpkin seed oil

Pumpkin seed oil, dark green and viscous, comes from Styrian pumpkins (aka naked-seeded pumpkins), which were developed in Austria to produce seeds without a tough white hull. It's a popular ingredient in eastern and central Europe, and a major export of Austria and Slovenia.

Greg Bastien of the Winchester, challenged by Aaron Mooney of Webster's Wine Bar to create a dish with pumpkin seed oil, said that getting the ingredient in October was "a bit of a softball." He describes the oil as "very rich, very strong in flavor . . . it goes really well with apples, squash, pumpkin, things of that nature."

Because overheating causes its flavors to deteriorate, pumpkin seed oil is usually used to finish dishes or in salad dressing rather than as a cooking oil. Looking for ways to put the oil at the forefront of a dish, Bastien decided to use it in a mousseline sauce, a derivative of bearnaise sauce (clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and vinegar) with whipped cream added.

Greg Bastien - JULIA THIEL
  • Greg Bastien
  • Julia Thiel

He substituted pumpkin seed oil for half of the clarified butter in his recipe, saying that using just oil with no butter "would be way over the top." After combining the two and warming the mixture to about 120 degrees, Bastien began to beat the egg yolks and water together in a bowl he held over a stove burner. "Some people make bearnaise or hollandaise over a water bath, but part of making a proper hollandaise is getting the right amount of air bubbles worked into the sauce," he says. "If you cook it too slowly, you actually lose that froth." According to Bastien, the trick is to thicken the yolks by beating the mixture constantly over a flame for about two minutes, and continue beating for another minute after taking the bowl off the stovetop.

Once the egg yolks were thickened Bastien beat in the warm clarified butter and pumpkin seed oil, a little at a time, and then a tarragon reduction: tarragon, shallot, black pepper, white wine, and white wine vinegar that he'd reduced by about two thirds. The final ingredient was whipped cream, which Bastien folded into the bearnaise to create a mousseline. "What this is going to do," he says, "is allow us to put a torch on it and get some color and a crust over the top of it, which will change the flavor slightly."

First, though, Bastien panfried brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and golden raisins while he boiled agnolotti filled with braised pot roast, shallot, and tarragon. He spooned parsnip puree into the bottom of a bowl, added the agnolotti and vegetable mix, then topped them with the mousseline sauce, which he browned with a torch. Pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil finished the dish.

The combination turned out to be less rich than he'd anticipated, but the pumpkin seed flavor came through. "This could hit the menu," he says. "It might be a pain in the butt [to make], but I'd serve it."

Pot roast agnolotti with mushrooms, brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin seed oil mousseline - JULIA THIEL
  • Pot roast agnolotti with mushrooms, brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin seed oil mousseline
  • Julia Thiel

Who's next:

Bastien has challenged Danielle Lewis of Gilt Bar to come up with a recipe using chamomile. "It's not a ridiculously hard item, but it might take some research," Bastien says.

Pumpkin seed mousseline

10 oz clarified butter
10 oz pumpkin seed oil
1oz fresh tarragon
1 large shallot, rough chopped
1 t black peppercorns
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
6 egg yolks
6 T cold water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups whipped cream

Combine first two items, bring to 120 degrees F and hold. Combine the next five items in a small sauce pot, bring to a simmer and reduce by two thirds, then strain (this is the tarragon reduction).

Combine the water and egg yolks in a medium size mixing bowl. Whisk directly over medium heat until it thickens and triples in volume. Pull from the heat and whisk for about one minute to avoid overcooking. While whisking the egg yolk, add the butter and pumpkin seed oil mixture in a slow and steady stream until all is incorporated and sauce is thick. Add salt, pepper, and the tarragon reduction to taste, then fold in two cups of whipped cream. Keep hot or sauce will break.

Pasta dough

500 grams all-purpose flour
7.5 grams of salt
250 grams egg yolk
1.5 whole eggs
3 t whole milk
1 T extra-virgin olive oil

Place all dry ingredients in a wide, round bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the center of the bowl and begin working together. It will take about 15 minutes to become a cohesive dough. As the ball begins to form start folding dough onto itself. Once the dough ball is fully formed wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll out and fill.

Agnolotti filling

6 oz braised chuck roll, minced
4 oz braising jus, reduced by half
1 large shallot, minced
Salt and red wine vinegar to taste
Mix all ingredients at room temperature and season to taste.

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