Way-out wagyu: Michelin-starred Massimo Bottura’s psychedelic steak from Buca’s one-of-a-kind dinner

Way-out wagyu: Michelin-starred Massimo Bottura’s psychedelic steak from Buca’s one-of-a-kind dinner

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Renée Suen) Click to see a larger version. (Image: Renée Suen)
 

Aimed at showcasing Italy’s culinary kicks, “Sotto una buona stella” (or, “under a lucky star”) dinners will see six Michelin-starred Italian chefs flown to Toronto over the next two years for the benefit of George Brown College’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund. At the first dinner, held March 6 at Buca Yorkville, Italy’s reigning top chef Massimo Bottura was in the kitchen with chef Rob Gentile and his team while they prepared a six-course meal of whimsical plates (including one that featured live baby trout). Bottura’s contribution to the invite-only event was the stunning main course: “beautiful, psychedelic, spin-painted veal, not flame-grilled.” Here’s a breakdown of the dizzying dish.

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Bottura created the dish for the 2012 Olympics in London; he wanted to cook something that was both Italian and British. The influence for the edible acid trip came was English artist Damien Hirst’s spin painting, “Beautiful Naked Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Your Face, Flame Grilled Painting.” The main goes for a hefty $80 at Osteria Francescana, his restaurant in Modena, Italy.
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Typically prepared with veal, Bottura went with wagyu from Snake River Farms in Boise, Idaho for the Toronto dinner instead. He submerged the tenderloin in milk, then rolled it in ash made from pulverized, blackened vegetables. Vacuum-sealed and cooked sous vide at 64°C, the resulting beef—black on the outside and pink on the inside—is as tender as veal. “It looks totally raw, but it’s cooked so slowly at such a low temperature that it melts in the mouth,” says Bottura. The chef was so impressed with the meat that he went to Jacobs and Co. for a post-dinner dinner of a similar wagyu cut.
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The psychedelic “paints” are actually liquefied sides: puréed roasted potato, a bright red sour cherry concentrate sauce, and green “salad”—actually a mix of parsley, abrotanum, and mugwort (mmm, mugwort). The herbs are blended together in water and allowed to split, and when their chlorophyl separates from the water, it’s decanted off.
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The red, white and green colours of the sauces are a nod to Italy, and the balsamic drizzle is a reduction of Bottura’s own balsamic vinegar tradizionale (awarded a gold medal from the Museum of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar). He criss-crosses the sauces in a particular order: first green, then red, then both green and red, then just white, and finally, brown.