Recipe: Potato Nicola

Samantha Tancredi

Shedding some light on his creative process, chef Peter Goossens of award-winning and highly esteemed restaurant, Hof van Cleve, shares one of his delightful vegetable and herb menu items – the “Potato Nicola.”

Thoughtfully crafted menus and an equally inventive atmosphere constitute chef Goossens’ restaurant Hof van Cleve. From a distance, Hof van Cleve unassumingly appears to be another farmhouse settled in the Belgium province of East Flanders. However, as you approach the building and enter into its sleek interior space, the dining room comes alive with a modern design built within the frameworks of Belgian tradition.

Goossens’ creative efforts to incorporate the Belgian spirit into his restaurant’s interior serve as a reflection of his culinary style and practice. By using local products for his creations, he explores their unique features and accentuates their taste and texture to achieve the ultimate sensory experience.  Although not limited to homegrown ingredients, national identity and a respect for Belgian craftsmanship are at the heart of Goossens’ menus, including “Freshness of Nature” and his vegetarian “Field, Garden, and Wood”. Here, we have Goossens’ “Potato Nicola,” one of many possible interpretations of the highly versatile vegetable. But first, a short word from the chef:

“The potato is much more than simply a produce which we can make fries from! Great taste and flavour, so many variations on preparation, tremendously delicious!”

Potato roll with truffle Purée

3 large ‘Nicola’ potatoes
25g thinly chopped black truffle ‘tuber melanosporum’
110g butter
Black pepper
1 large ‘Nicola’ potato
Brown butter
Black pepper
Rinse and cook three potatoes in their skins in salted water.
Drain when the potatoes are fully cooked.
Peel the potatoes, pass them twice through a drum sieve and put back on the stove, add the butter little by little.
Whisk the purée until smooth. Alternatively, you can add a little splash of milk.
Season with the thinly chopped black truffle, black pepper and salt.Peel a large Nicola potato and slice thinly with a Japanese slicer.
Vacuum pack the slices with one tablespoon of brown butter per bag, black pepper and salt.
Cook in a water bath of 85°C for about 8 minutes.
Chill quickly.
Just before serving, put the bags in hot water for just a moment so that the butter can melt.
Remove the slices from the bag, stuff them with warm truffle purée and roll tightly.

Black Truffle Cream

120g button mushrooms
30g black truffle melanosporum
25ml black truffle jus
1 tbsp of French brandy
Black pepper
1dl vegetable stock
50g butter
1/2 clove of garlic, crushed
Melt the butter in a pan, add the sliced button mushrooms and half a clove of crushed garlic.
Let it take color for a while and add the chopped black truffle.
Let it fry a bit longer.
Deglaze with the French brandy, truffle jus and the vegetable stock.
Bring it to the boil and then mix it to a smooth cream.
Season with pepper and salt.
Poor it in a piping bag.

Pan-fried girolles

150g girolles
50g unsalted butter
Black pepper
Clean the girolles by scraping off the dirt with a small knife.
Rinse quickly in cold water and pat dry on a kitchen towel.
Fry in foaming butter, add pepper and salt.

Escabeche of button mushrooms

125g button mushrooms
1 tbsp of tarragon vinegar
1 spring onion
A few drips of olive oil
Black pepper
Cut the mushroom caps into very thin cubes and marinate with tarragon vinegar, pepper and salt.
Mix with a few drips of live oil and thinly sliced spring onion.

Low-temperature cooked quail egg

8 quail eggs
Black pepper
Cook the quail eggs in a water bath of 63°C for about 13 minutes.
Remove the shell from the quail eggs and season with black pepper and salt.

Potato sauce

2 mealy potatoes (variety ‘bintje’)
400ml vegetable stock
1 small onion
150g brown butter
1 bay leaf
Black pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces.
Rinse quickly and stew the potatoes in butter with a thinly chopped onion until waxy.
Add the bay leaf and the vegetable stock.
Cook the potatoes on low heat for about 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and mix the sauce in a food processor.
Strain the sauce and season with black pepper, salt and brown butter.


To finish:

Put the potato rolls on a hot plate, add the quail egg, the escabeche of button mushroom, the truffle cream, the fried girolles and a few cut out slices of black truffle. Finish off with a few leaves of young watercress and serve the sauce separately.