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Potato Cooked in Earth - Chef Recipe by Ben Shewry

Potato Cooked in Earth - Chef Recipe by Ben Shewry


Coconut Husk Ash:

1 young coconut, outer green husk removed


4 Virginia rose potatoes, peeled
20 ml grape seed oil
Murray River salt flakes to taste
3 kg soil that the potatoes were grown in
2 tea towels, soaked in water
2 small pieces hessian sack or muslin, soaked in water

Chicken Floss:

100 g piece free range chicken breast fillet
100 ml Healthy Boy brand thin soy sauce
Non-GM canola oil for deep-frying

Smoked Curd:

200 g goat's milk curd cheese
200 g fromage blanc (curd cheese)
Food grade sawdust for smoking
Table salt to taste

Deep-fried Saltbush Leaves:

Non-GM canola oil for deep frying
1 branch saltbush leaves picked

To Finish:

10 g coconut husk ash
5 g freshly ground, ethically produced coffee (medium grind)
20 g chicken floss
8 sprigs puha (wild watercress), washed and leaves picked


Coconut Husk Ash:

Crack the top of the coconut with a few sharp blows from a meat cleaver. Drain the coconut water (reserve for another use), then split the coconut open using the cleaver. Remove the flesh (reserve for another use). Leave the coconut husk in a warm place to dry for four days.

Preheat a barbeque to high. Place the coconut husk in a roasting tray and place on the grill, then set the husk alight with a kitchen blowtorch. Be careful, as it will burn intensely. Let the flames die down by themselves, then turn off the barbeque and leave the husk to cool.

Grind the husk into ash, using a mortar and pestle.


Preheat oven to 180 C.

In a bowl, combine the potatoes with the oil and season with salt. In a deep baking tray, about 35 cm x 25 cm, place half of the soil in an even layer to cover the base of the tray.

Place a damp tea towel over the soil and then a piece of hessian sack on top.

Place the potatoes on the hessian sack and cover with the other piece of hessian and tea towel, making sure they are sealed from the soil. Place the remaining soil on top and tightly cover with foil.

Bake for three hours, then reduce the oven temperature to 100 C and bake for a further four hours (on up to five hours).

The texture of the potatoes should be soft and creamy.

Chicken Floss:

Marinate the chicken in the soy sauce for one hour in the fridge.

Drain the chicken. Fill a small deep saucepan no more than one third full with oil and heat to 165 C.

Deep fry the chicken for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and let cool.

Chop into 2 cm pieces, then blitz until fluffy in a small food processor, or pound using a mortar and pestle.

Smoked Curd:

Place both the curds in separate stainless steel bowls. Light a cold smoker using the sawdust, place the bowls inside and smoke the curds at 2 C for 20 minutes.

Combine the smoked curds in a bowl, season with a small amount of salt and whisk until smooth. It may be necessary to thin out the curds with a little milk if they are too stiff. Set aside in the fridge.

Deep-fried Saltbush Leaves:

Fill a small, deep saucepan no more than one third full with oil and heat to 160 C.

Deep fry the saltbush for 35 seconds, or until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

To Finish:

Place a small spoonful of the smoked curd in the centre of each plate.

Sprinkle the curd with the ash, coffee and chicken floss. Place a few puha leaves in the middle of the curd.

Place a potato on top of the puha and garnish with saltbush leaves.

Recipe provided by Attica