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Pot Au Feu of Homemade Fregola and Young Roots with Caramelized Onion Consommé, Leek Ash and Bordeaux Spinach by Chef Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu
Uni Foam Technique

Technique: Homemade Fregola
Chef Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu – Napa, CA
May 2009

Chef Jeremy Fox’s outside-the-box, vegetable-only fare isn’t the only element of surprise at his Napa, CA, restaurant, Ubuntu—his innovative grain applications also urge diners to push their palates’ comfort zones. In fact, it’s this culinary fearlessness that contributed to Fox’s naming as one of our Napa Sonoma Rising Stars.

In line with this philosophy, Fox serves his homemade fregola as a tasty alternative to traditional pasta; its toasted, nutty flavor is an unexpected compliment to hearty vegetable dishes, while its small size makes fregola a great substitute for couscous in summer salads.

Although the fregola technique seems simple—mix flour and water together—the devil is truly in the details. Too much water will lead to a mushy dough that can’t be properly shaped into tiny pellets.

“The real enemy of this is too much moisture,” explains Ubuntu Chef de Cuisine Marty Cattaneo, who demonstrates Fox’s homemade fregola technique in the video featured below. “Then the pasta comes out and it’s too sticky and can’t be properly shaped. It sticks together.”

Cattaneo keeps his fregola dough on the drier side by slowly incorporating the water little by little, stopping midway through to test the dough’s moisture and flavor. Once the pasta is made, Cattaneo evenly toasts the pellets to give them the wheaty, roasted flavor fregola is known for.

Step 1: Add 24 ounces durum flour, 8 ounces all purpose flour and 2 to 3 pinches salt to a pasta extruder.
Step 2: Turn on the extruder and slowly pour 13 ounces water into the dough as it mixes, stopping after 2 minutes to check the dough’s moisture and flavor. Season with additional salt as necessary.
Step 3: Slowly pour in the rest of the water, stopping once the dough begins to come together and is still on the dry side.
Step 4: Set the pasta cutter on high speed so that tiny pellets are extruded from the machine.
Step 5: Once all of the fregola is extruded, evenly toast the pellets in a pot with olive oil until golden brown.


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Pot Au Feu of Homemade Fregola and Young Roots with Caramelized Onion Consommé, Leek Ash and Bordeaux Spinach
Chef Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu – Napa, CA
Adapted by
May 2009
Yield: 8 Servings


Homemade Fregola: (makes 2 quarts)
24 ounces durum flour
8 ounces all purpose flour
2 tablespoons kosher salt
13 ounces cold water
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 quarts lightly salted water
Olive oil

Caramelized Onion Consommé:
10 medium white onions, peeled but whole
4½ quarts water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Banyuls vinegar

Leek Ash:
8 leeks, cleaned green tops only
5 onions strained from the Caramelized Onion Consommé, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, julienned
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Young Root Vegetables: (no bigger than 1 inch)
16 French breakfast radishes
16 red Easter egg radishes
16 purple haze carrots
16 white satin carrots
16 Hakurei turnips
1 quart reserved Caramelized Onion Consommé
5 teaspoons salt

To Assemble and Serve:
1 pound Bordeaux spinach
2 tablespoons julienned parsley

For the Homemade Fregola:
Add the flours and salt to a dough mixer, slowly pouring in the cold water until a dough is formed. Extrude the fregola dough through an 1/8-inch die onto a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Allow the fregola to dry for 24 to 48 hours at room temperature.

Heat the olive oil in a large round pan over medium heat. Add the dried fregola and cook for about 10 minutes or until golden. Drain the fregola of the oil and place it onto a parchment-covered  sheet pan.

Add 1 quart of the toasted fregola to a pot of boiling lightly salted water. Cook the fregola for about 12 minutes, drain and toss with a touch of olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Caramelized Onion Consommé:
Place the onions, water and salt in a deep, full-sized hotel pan and cover with foil. Cook the onions in a 200°F oven for 36 to 48 hours, or until the broth takes on a deep gold hue. Strain the consommé through a perforated hotel pan set over another pan; reserve 5 onions for the Leek Ash and 1 quart of the consommé for the Young Root Vegetables. Reduce the remaining consommé by 1/3 to intensify its flavor and viscosity. Season to taste with Banyuls vinegar and additional salt, if necessary. Strain the consommé through a coffee filter and set aside.

For the Leek Ash:
On a foil-lined sheet pan, bake the leek tops in a 500°F oven until they are evenly charred. Julienne the leeks, cutting in the direction of the fibers, then dice them as small as possible. Add the onions, olive oil, Italian parsley, lemon juice and zest to the leeks, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Young Root Vegetables:
Place each root vegetable in a separate pot and evenly distribute the reserved consommé among the pots. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each pot, cover with a cartouche and cook on low heat until the roots are al dente. Allow the roots to cool in the liquid.

To Assemble and Serve:
Warm the fregola in the seasoned consommé; combine all of the roots and their liquids, and warm gently. Wilt the Bordeaux spinach in 1 cup consommé and season with salt. Finish the fregola and root vegetables each with 1 tablespoon parsley. Warm the leek ash and the remaining consommé.

Arrange the spinach at the base of the plate. Spoon the fregola over the spinach and place the root vegetables on top, leaving any liquid behind. Add one quenelle of leek ash to the side of the plate. At the table, pour the caramelized onion consommé.

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  Published: May 2009