Michael Nagrant recently wrote on his twitter account that “black garlic is so five minutes ago.” So considering I was already falling behind, I figured it was time for me to jump in before it was, “so ten minutes ago.”
This dish actually wasn’t born with the desire to use black garlic, but with the black walnuts that fell in our laps.
A friend of ours - who we’ll refer to as Lady Chatterly since she wishes to remain anonymous – called and said she had black walnuts falling from her tree. Since she was pretty worn out from using them for practicing her golf swing, she wanted to know if we could use some. I told her to bring some by because my golf swing also is in need of a cheap golf ball. Once my shoulders ached from too many swings, I decided to take what remained of them back to the restaurant and use them for what they were meant to be used for.
I can’t remember where I heard the saying, “God gives us the nuts, but leaves them for us to crack”. And I will have to say that without a nut cracker, he makes this very challenging. We looked it up online, and found the best way to get the walnut out of the green, fruit casing was to stomp on it as Jens is doing below. It was a very simple way, but the black ink leaves terrible stains so be sure to where gloves and cheap clothing.
As shown below, you must sometimes look throught the nasty to find the beauty.
Now the nut needed to be removed from the seed. A nutcracker is a logical choice here and cracking it in a vice is another good way. It was also reccommended to freeze them so that the expanding water inside cracks open the shell. Lacking the 1st two options, and not being patient enough to wait for the 3rd, the below method also did the trick and helped to release some pent up agression. Out of 18 black walnuts we yielded 1/4 cup of broken up pieces which I then peeled and dried.
By the time we got around to extracting the nuts, I was already onto a theme of black (which is how the black garlic entered) and had some sweetbreads and risotto in mind. I wasn’t sure how to get the 2 oz of walnuts to go very far and they weren’t really as black as the ones we buy shelled. The thought then came of the black truffle/black walnut crust and another black ingredient entered the fray. In the end, the dish turned out to be more black by name than in color, and it was still difficult deciding on a name for the dish.
Black on Black on Black was the first thought, but that reminded me too much of a porno I might have seen in high school. I then thought of calling it The Black Hole, but my mind was already in the wrong place. There certainly has to be a better name than sending an ode to the the talented – yet self destructive - Amy Winehouse, but until it comes or is presented to me, this is what it’ll be.