The Art of Darkness

Edible Dirt

August 19th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Edible DirtEdible “dirt” in the form of crumbled cake or cookies is a staple of Halloween parties; here’s a really cool way to expand into savory dishes.

Merlin and Rebecca dined at famed Copenhagen restaurant Noma and were told, “Your next course is in the flower pot.”

Noma is almost mythic at this point. Do the chefs really forage ingredients from parks and shores around Copenhagen? Yes. Do they actually make you eat dirt? Well, kind of. The ‘edible dirt’ filled flower pot, from which perfect carrots and radishes are messily unearthed by hand, is one of Noma’s signature dishes. So, we decided to create our own version as an homage to Noma and New Nordic Cuisine. Everything in that flower pot is edible.

They detail their attempt to recreate the dish here. Noma serves the dirt “planted” with little carrots and radishes which are pulled out by their greens. Merlin and Rebecca couldn’t find vegetables with their greens still attached, so they decided to substitute fingerling potatoes and use chives to represent stems. The (clean, obviously) flowerpots were filled with a layer of thick yogurt flavored with chopped herbs, the potatoes and chives were pressed into the yogurt, then the dirt was layered on top. Diners “harvest” the potatoes by digging them out of the flowerpots; the dirt sticks to the yogurt and is eaten along with the potatoes.

They don’t include an actual recipe, noting vaguely that the recipe is available through “a quick Google search.” I finally found Chef RenĂ© Redzepi’s original recipe on the fourth page of Google’s results; it’s a bit weird and fiddly and requires “malt flour,” which seems to be diastatic malt powder. If you do a lot of baking you may have some of this in your kitchen; otherwise it can be mail-ordered (or you may be able to purchase a little from your local bakery).

If that seems like too much work, I also unearthed (har!) a recipe that uses more ingredients but are all things that you should be able to find in a well-stocked grocery store. It appears to originally be from Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine:

Dirt
2 T dark raisins
1/4 C raw mixed nuts
5 oz (2 thin slices) black bread, such as Danish pumpernickel
1/4 C salted smoked almonds
1/2 C crushed dark crispbreads, such as Wasa Hearty (substitute toasted bread crumbs)
1 oz dried Porcini mushrooms
2 T dehydrated onions
1 T shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas) (optional)
2 T olive paste
2 T hazelnut, walnut or pumpkinseed oil (optional)

Filling
5 oz fresh goat cheese
3 T plain yogurt
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 T chopped parsley
1 T chopped dill
1 T chopped mint
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Small raw vegetables such as radishes and carrots, preferably with greens still attached; you can also substitute steamed fingerling potatoes and use chives or green onions to represent stems

Clean, terra-cotta flowerpots or other containers: Use small ones for individual servings or one large one for everyone to share

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 275F. Place the raisins, mixed nuts and black bread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the bread is crisp on top. Turn off the oven and let the ingredients cool thoroughly.

Tear the bread into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor, along with the dried raisins, mixed nuts, smoked almonds, crispbreads, dried mushrooms, dehydrated onion, and pumpkin seeds. Pulse to form a fairly even, coarse texture. Add the olive paste and pulse until the mixture resembles soil in color and consistency. If desired, drizzle in a little nut oil and pulse to incorporate. Set aside.

Whip the goat cheese and yogurt together until creamy, then thoroughly mix in the shallot, herbs, and garlic. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

If the flowerpot has a large drainage hole, plug it with a little piece of bread. Spoon a layer of goat cheese dressing into the flowerpot, then carefully “plant” the vegetables upright (if using potatoes, stand them on end; intersperse chives or green onions). Spoon the dirt over everything to the desired depth.

If using warm steamed potatoes, serve at once. Otherwise, the dressing and raw vegetables can be assembled in the flowerpots in advance and refrigerated for a few hours; spoon the dirt over just before serving to make sure the bottom layer doesn’t get soggy.

For extra spookiness points, garnish each mound of dirt with a miniature tombstone before serving.

Posted in Paint It Black | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Kathy White Says:

    My Mom told me I would have to eat a peck of dirt before I died. This recipe could move the date up significantly.

  2. Pixel Pixie Says:

    Reminds me of the dirty pudding we used to make on Girl Scouts.

  3. WitchArachne Says:

    Hmmmm. I have never come across this idea before. I’m going to put it down to Australia’s vitriolic hatred of Halloween. I’m thinking I could do the same thing with some chocolate cake crumbs (as you suggested) and some sugar syrup.
    Make a cute little fondant skellington and have people unbury and eat him :D

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