Crispy Courgette Flowers with Brandade, Chorizo, Tomatoes and Basil

Impress your guests with the lively Spanish flavours and contrasting textures of this sophisticated dinner party starter from Maria Elia
By Maria Elia
Crispy Courgette Flowers with Brandade, Chorizo, Tomatoes and Basil
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes plus soaking time
  • Effort: hard

Ingredients

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 300 g salt cod, soaked
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250 ml hot cream
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest only, finely grated
  • salt and black pepper
  • 6 small courgettes, with flowers

For the chorizo mixture

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cooking picante chorizo, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 9 basil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or cabernet sauvignon vinegar
  • handfuls rocket

For the batter

  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 400 g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 400 ml ice cold water

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Place the potatoes directly on the oven shelf and bake until soft. When done, remove from the oven, cut in half, scrape out the flesh and mash it.

2. Meanwhile, rinse the soaked salt cod and place in a saucepan with the thyme and bay leaf. Cover with water, bring to the boil, and simmer until the salt cod flesh falls of the bone, approximately 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, heat the cream to scalding point in a small milk pan.

3. Flake the cod, carefully discarding any bones. Place in a food processor with garlic and mashed potato and pulse, gradually adding the hot cream followed by the olive oil. Add half the grated lemon zest, then season to taste with pepper (and a little salt if necessary).

4. Carefully trim the flowers from the courgettes. Gently open the flowers and cut out the pollen stems. Fill each flower with brandade and twist the tops of each flower to secure. Refrigerate until ready to use.

5. To begin the chorizo mixture, take the courgettes you cut from the flowers and slice into 1cm rounds. Heat half the olive oil in a large shallow frying pan. Add the courgettes, season and sauté for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and set aside.

6. Heat the remaining oil and fry the chorizo over a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further minute. Return the courgettes to the pan and add the remaining lemon zest and half the basil. Add the vinegar and stir until it bubbles away. Set the chorizo mixture aside.

7. Heat the vegetable oil to 180C-190C in a deep-fat fryer, wok or deep heavy based saucepan. Place the flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl and whisk in the ice-cold water to make a batter. When the oil is hot, lightly dust the courgette flowers with flour. Dip each flower in batter and fry in batches two at a time until crisp and golden, approximately 1-2 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper.

8. Place the warm chorizo mixture and rocket on serving plates and top with the remaining basil and the hot stuffed courgette flowers.

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