What’s in a name? Seamus Mullen has much too Irish a name to be one of NYC’s top Spanish chefs – or does he? His name may be patently Irish, but if his food is any indication, his soul is clearly Spanish. Another of the vanguard of chefs re-introducing contemporary NYC to classic Spanish cooking, Mullen came to the fore when he opened Boqueria in the Flatiron District. He left there with a topnotch reputation and then opened Tertulia and most recently El Colmado in the brand new Gotham West Market. Both restaurants feature well prepared, top notch ingredients in delicious dishes inspired by classic Spanish tradition, but with a personal touch. Full disclosure – my son, L.J., has been working at Tertulia since early September and at El Colmado as well, since it opened in November. Rest assured, though, my enthusiasm for these restaurants is entirely genuine regardless of my son’s employment status. He would not be working at a restaurant that I didn’t like and respect. Here, now, are the final recipes from this exploration of some of NYC’s top Spanish restaurants. More recipes can be found in Seamus Mullen’s Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.
This dish is a variation on the classic Spanish flatbread, or Coca. It can be made from scratch with homemade dough, or for a quicker preparation, you can use pre-made pizza dough or flatbread drizzled with olive oil and just omit the dough process and the first baking.
Makes 4 cocas
(for the dough)
3 Cups AP Flour
2 Whole Eggs
4 tsp Dry Yeast
1 TB Lard
3/4 Cup Lukewarm Water
3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed
½ pound king oyster mushrooms, sliced into coins
½ pound black trumpet mushrooms
½ pound hen-of-the-woods mushrooms
2 shallots, quartered and separated into petals
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
For the dough
Preheat oven to 475 F.
Mix the yeast with lukewarm water and set aside in a warm place to proof for 5 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, mix salt and egg then add in the yeast mixture and whisk in the olive oil.
In another small bowl, add lard and ½ cup flour and work together with your fingers until fully mixed. In a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add salt, egg, and yeast mixture, 3 cups of the AP Flour and half of the lard mixture and slowly start to mix.
As the dry ingredients begin to combine with the wet ingredients, slowly add the rest of the flour and remaining lard/flour mixture and paddle until it forms a ball. Once the dough forms a ball, increase the speed to medium and paddle for five minutes.
Remove the dough to a bowl greased with olive oil and cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 45 minutes in a warm place. While the dough is rising, prepare the mushrooms.
For the mushroom topping
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and vigorously sauté all the mushrooms, the shallots, and garlic together for 3–4 minutes. Add the vinegar and reduce for 30 seconds.
Add the butter, parsley, and salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute more. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Lightly grease a large cookie tray with olive oil.
Divide the dough into four even sized balls and working one at a time, on a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin to roll the dough into a long, thin sheet. Unlike a pizza which is round, the coca is generally long and thin, like an elongated football. We’re looking for less than a 1/4″ in thickness and about 14″ by 6″ in size.
Carefully transfer the dough, one at a time to the cookie sheet and lay flat, then using a fork, poke a few holes to keep it from puffing up too much in the oven. Bake each dough for 4-6 minutes, or until they start to take on some color, then remove from the oven.
Turn the flatbread, and Immediately and evenly distribute one-fourth of the mushroom mixture and the ricotta on top of each flatbread. Then finish grilling until the bread is cooked through and nicely charred. Remove from the oven, cut each flatbread into 3 or 4 pieces, and serve immediately.
From El Colmado:
2 cups olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, slightly crushed
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes,
Lightly beat the eggs, season with a generous sprinkle of salt, and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and gently cook until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have completely fallen apart. Take care to keep the heat low enough that the potatoes and onions don’t take on any color.
Drain the onions and potatoes through a colander, reserving the olive oil for cooking the tortilla. (You’ll only need a couple tablespoons; save the remaining oil for the next time you make a tortilla. If you continue to use this same oil, each time you make the tortilla the flavor will improve.)
Season the potato and onion mixture with salt and mix with the beaten eggs; it should be roughly equal parts potatoes and eggs, as you want the mixture to be just barely held together with the eggs.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over mediumlow heat and add 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil from the potatoes and onions. Pour the potato and egg mixture into the pan and leave it alone for 2 minutes, until the bottom starts to set up. Gently shake the pan to release the eggs from the bottom of the pan; using a rubber spatula, gently pull the eggs away from the edge to make sure they’re not sticking at all. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until the bottom is set but the top is very wet.
Place a large, flat plate on top of the skillet, hold it tightly, and in one quick motion (it’s probably best to perform this over the sink the first few times) flip over the pan and the tortilla.
Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and return it to the heat. Add another tablespoon of the cooking oil and carefully slip the tortilla back into the pan. Using a rubber spatula, carefully tuck the edges of the tortilla into the pan and cook for another 3 minutes. Once the bottom is set up, you’re going to repeat the flipping process 1 or 2 times to get a perfectly rounded edge. If at any time the tortilla starts to swell, just poke it with a fork to deflate. When done, the tortilla should be nice and golden on the outside and creamy and gooey on the inside. It can be served hot or room temperature.