In preparation for a dinner with the chefs of San Francisco’s famed Bar Tartine, we attempted this dish of a bird baked in a nigella seed–studded sourdough. Unlike most new ideas, this one worked right away: the bird was moist and had a subtle yeasty flavor. We played with the garniture, eventually settling on melted onions, a puree of the onions and the bread, and spicy nasturtiums. At The Restaurant, we first show the bird to the table garnished with herbs, serve some of the bread in which it is cooked, and then finally, we bring the plated dish. We use the “cake plate” as a canvas for the muted white of the bird and onion and the vibrant green of the nasturtium.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 .5 kilograms | 3.3 pounds levain dough
- 150 grams | 1 ½ cups nigella seeds, toasted
- 1 | poussin, 450 to 680 grams (1 to 1 ½ pounds)
- kosher salt
- 25 grams | 2 tablespoons rendered chicken fat
- Maldon sea salt
- 2 | white onions, quartered
- kosher salt
- 75 grams | 2.5 ounces reserved nigella bread
- 350 grams | 1 ½ cups onion cooking liquid from melted
- kosher salt
- FOR THE POUSSIN PREPARATION:Make the levain dough as directed in the recipe up to the point where it has proofed for 2 hours. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and fold in the nigella seeds, distributing them evenly. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in diameter. Place 1 disk in the center of the prepared sheet pan. Season the poussin on all sides with kosher salt and place in the center of the disk. Place the second disk over the poussin and seal the edges by tucking them under the poussin. Place the pan in a proof box set at 90°F (32°C) for about 30 minutes, until the dough has risen slightly and has a strong, yeasty fragrance. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Remove the pan from the proof box and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until the crust of the bread is a deep golden brown. Let the poussin rest encased in the bread at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- FOR THE MELTED WHITE ONIONS: Put the onions in a vacuum bag, season with salt, and seal on high. Cook in a steam oven set at 200°F (95°C) for 30 minutes, until the onions are very tender but still hold their shape. Remove the bag from the oven, let cool until it can be handled, then open the bag and drain the onions, capturing the liquid in a container. Cover the container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Separate the layers of the onion and cut into 1-inch (2.5-centimeter)-wide petals. Store the petals in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- FOR THE BREAD ONION SAUCE: When the poussin has rested for 30 minutes, cut a wide hole in the top of the bread, being careful not to pierce the poussin. Remove the poussin and set aside. Scoop out enough of the insides of the bread to equal 75 grams (2.5 ounces). Place the removed bread in a blender along with the onion liquid and mix on high speed for 2 minutes, until very smooth. Season with salt and hold in a warm place. Reserve the remaining baked bread for serving.
- FOR THE NASTURTIUM PUREE: Prepare an ice bath. Combine the lime juice, olive oil, and nasturtium leaves in a blender and mix on high speed for 20 seconds, until smooth. Slowly add the Ultra-Tex 3 and continue to mix until thickened. Strain through a chinois into a bowl, then nest the bowl in the ice bath to cool the puree. Transfer the puree to a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.