Scallops, duck, pecorino and foie gras – By Jeffrey J. Vella

Jeffrey James Vella is the executive chef at  the Zinfandel restaurant in the Regent Esplanade hotel in Zagreb (Croatia). He is in charge for superb cuisine prepared at the restaurant. Internationally experienced in leading top restaurants before coming to Zagreb, he worked at many prestigious addresses. Building up on the Esplanade tradition of the finest cuisine, this Maltese chef is refreshing the local restaurant offer by connecting Zagreb with the Mediterranean and continental Europe. The Zinfandel’s menu features delicious and creative dishes based on fish, meat, poultry or vegetables. Each dish is prepared with great care and sense of beauty.

Jeffrey J. Vella: “Different textures, different flavours, different combinations but one thing hits them all, all the ingredients and tastes are from the Mediterranean, which makes this plate a true winter Mediterranean dish with a hit on Eastern Europe

In my opinion I prefer hand picked scallops, hard to find, of course more expensive but worth it, the Adriatic due to its warm habitat produces some of the finest scallops, pecorino needs no introduction, chestnuts neither as they hold a household name, duck and foie gras are cousins, one meaner than the other.”

Adriatic scallops, pecorino Sardo, chestnuts, duck block and foie gras foam

serves 4

For the scallops                                 For the chestnuts                   For the duck block
12 pcs scallops                                       250gr chestnuts                            1 whole duck
100gr grated pecorino cheese            35gr red onion                              2 carrots
2 whole eggs                                           350ml vegetable stock                1 onion
10gr parsley                                            3gr lemon zest                              2 bayleafs
2gr thyme                                                2gr nutmeg                                    2gr anise
45ml olive oil                                                                                                   1 orange
200gr flour                                                                                                       1 whole garlic head
10gr lemon zest                                                                                               300ml vegetable stock

For the foam
55gr Foie gras
20ml red wine
85ml chicken stock
50ml cream
20gr butter


For the scallops clean the scallops and place on a dry paper towel, sprinkle some thyme leaves and grate a few lemon skin on top, mix the rest of the ingredients together using a hand blender, dust the scallops with the flour, and drown in the pecorino mixture,
For the Chestnuts wash the chestnut shell and make a shape of a cross without touching the inner nuts roast on a heavy based tray until nicely open, take out of the oven, let them cool a bit and remove from the shell, cut the onion in brunnoise and sautee with the rest of the dried ingredients add the chestnuts and the vegetable stock, simmer, check the taste and keep aside.
For the duck block clean the duck, roughly cut the rest of the ingredients and stuff them in the duck, roast on low heat for around 2 hours, take out of the oven, let it cool but not cold, remove all the meat, and with the bone trimmings and the inside stuffing make a broth by adding the vegetable stock simmer skim the fat and pass through a fine chinnoise.
Prepare a terrine mould mix the duck meat and the broth and press in the mould, cover and let it set overnight since the duck have got a substantial amount of fat this would set nicely and would allow you to cut it nice and evenly
For the foie gras foam sear the foie gras, discharge all the fat, reduce with the wine and the chicken stock and simmer add the cream, the butter and froth with a hand blender, until the foam appears

Thinking in advance, always a help in being a pro
The block can be done from the previous day, so start from the duck, and follow the recipe, as this is the only thing that can take some time,the most important thing is to keep it properly refrigerated.
The chestnuts can as well be roasted and have their shell removed, keep them in an air tight container until needed

Cut the duck block into an oblong shape and heat gently in the oven, heat a non stick pan sear the scallops until golden from both sides , dry on a paper towel heat the chestnuts and spoon on the plate, place the scallops on top and place the block on the side, spoon the foam around and line.


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