Soft pumpkin, black pumpkin skin and salted pumpkin “guts”
Matt Orlando started his career in San Diego, where he worked at various restaurants since the age of 15. After that he worked at different restaurants in NYC and England. He has worked for e.g. Eric Ripert, Raymond Blanc, Heston Blumenthal, René Redzepi and Thomas Keller. When he worked at The Fat Duck, he got the opportunity to become a sous chef at Noma. After 2 years, he returned to NYC to take a sous chef position at Per Se. In 2010, after working there 3 years, he moved back to Copenhagen to become the first chef the cuisine at Noma. Matt resigned this position to pursue his own dream: he became the owner and chef of Amass in 2013.
At Amass, they believe in an approach to food that not only prioritizes their guest and gastronomy, but also the environment and the future of the industry. Amass has a gold organic certification, which insures that 90% to 100% of their food and beverages are organic and free of pesticides. They source nearly 95% of their products locally, minimizing ingredient waste and saving water. Amass has an on-site garden. At the kitchen, they are constantly thinking of how to extract the most out of the ingredients without resorting to the waste bin. Matt hopes he can get his guests as inspired as the chefs at Amass are, to make the most of the ingredients we have now, so we can all protect the food we love for the future.
Pumpkin is an ingredient that comes around every year. At Amass, they have policy of never repeating a dish that has been on the menu before. So in 2016, they decided to try and make a dish of pumpkin based on the entire pumpkin and not just the flesh. Throughout the process of experimenting with the different parts of the pumpkin, including the inedible hard skin, they discovered flavors that they didn’t know could exist in a pumpkin. By putting the skin through the same process as making black garlic, you create a flavor and texture that resembles a sauce called Mole, that comes from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. By salting and drying the “guts”, you create a flavor that resembles a spice called sumac, which is very common in Middle Eastern cooking. For Matt personally, this was a dish that defines Amass as a restaurant. It encompasses everything that they believe in. It also really opened their eyes to hidden flavors that are just waiting to be let free in other ingredients. Exploration is the best part of cooking!
Creation by Matthew Orlando, Amass restaurant, Copenhagen, Denmark.
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Preparation method: Soft pumpkin
- Cut skins away from the pumpkin and reserve those for making black pumpkin skins for future dishes.
- Half pumpkin and scoop out the “guts”. Reserve for making salted pumpkin “guts”.
- Cut the pumpkin into 6 cm wedges. At this point with sharp pairing knife, shape the wedges into egg shapes.
- Place the egg shaped pumpkin pieces into vacuum sealed bags with a spoon full of the black pumpkin skin oil. Reserve the rest of the oil for assembling the dish.
- Steam at 100°C for 30 minutes. The goal is to just overcook the pumpkin, so it is a custardy consistency, but not so soft that it is a pile of mush.
- When pumpkins are finished cooking, transfer the bags to an ice bath to cool immediately.
- Remove from ice bath and reserve pumpkins inside the bags in the refrigerator.
Preparation method: Black pumpkin skin puree
- Start saving pumpkin skins 6 weeks prior to preparing this dish.
- Place one pumpkin worth of skins in a vacuum sealed bag and place in a dehydrator at 61°C for 6 weeks.
- After 6 weeks, remove from bag. They should be almost black in color and extremely soft.
- Place ¾ of the pumpkin skin in the blender and add just enough water until it starts to spin.
- Add honey and season with a little salt.
- Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preparation method: Black pumpkin skin oil
- Place the grapeseed oil and remaining black pumpkin skin in a blender and pulse two times.
- Transfer to an airtight container and reserve at room temperature for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, carefully spoon the oil off the top, taking care not to scoop up any of the black pumpkin skin.
- Reserve in the refrigerator.
Preparation method: Salted pumpkin “guts”
- Five days in advance, make sure you reserve all the “guts” (seeds and connective tissue) of the pumpkin that you scoop out when preparing pumpkins for other uses, to make this recipe.
- Place the guts in a blender and add just enough water to make everything spin.
- Remove mixture from blender and add 2% salt to the weight of the guts and mix well.
- Place the mixture in a vacuum sealed bag and store at room temperature for 5 days. Taking note that it is ok if the bag inflates a little.
- After 5 days, remove the guts from bag and place in a dehydrator until they are fully dried. Approximately 12 hours.
- Blend on the dried pumpkin guts on high speed, with the dried red seaweed until everything becomes a fine powder.
- Reserve at room temperature. This spice mix can be saved for up to one week at room temperature.
Finishing & presentation
- Heat a medium pot of water and hold between 80-90°C.
- Drop the desired number of soft pumpkin pieces into the water for 5 minutes.
- While pumpkin pieces are heating, place about 1 tablespoon of the black pumpkin skin puree per piece of pumpkin in a small sauce pot with a few drops of water. Warm this gently.
- Remove the soft pumpkin pieces from the bags and place on a holding tray.
- Season with salt, then generously cover with the pumpkin “guts” powder.
- Place each piece of pumpkin in a bowl and spoon one tablespoon of warm black pumpkin skin oil around the pumpkin.