From Kidney and Oyster to Sgroppino: Carlo Cracco’s new memories

In the Auditorium, the chef from Vicenza charmed the audience with three recipes that explore past and future. His way

Carlo Cracco and sous chef Luca Sacchi, opening

Carlo Cracco and sous chef Luca Sacchi, opening day 2 at Identità Milano (photo Brambilla/Serrani)

Day 2 at Identità Milano starts with a lesson from Carlo Cracco, who has participated in 14 editions out of 15. With him, on stage, his dauphin Luca Sacchi and a brigade of 12 people: «It’s my way of thanking them for their efforts since we opened in Galleria, little over one year ago». This is the premise of a lesson strongly based on technique, always a typical feature of the chef from Vicenza. The focus is on three recipes, one after the other.

The pairing reminds us of the days of Le Fooding, a cult event that took place in 2010: on that occasion Cracco presented these two elements together for the first time. They were raw. This was «also because», he recalls, «there was no kitchen in that place». But the obsession to explore that pairing remained. «There’s no end to a dish», he said, «in fact, a dish can always improve». Off he goes with the preparation. The kidney is deprived of its fat, then gently seared for a minute, adding rosemary, sage, garlic. Once seasoned, it’s cooked sans vide with its liquids for 60 minutes at 55/58°C. It’s then cooled down. «We love kidney», Cracco and Sacchi say, «because it’s very versatile, in terms of cooking and pairings».

Kidney is a pillar at the restaurant next to Piazza Duomo, and as of today it’s matched with an oyster - initially raw, with a greener-than-usual crown, the result of the sea lettuce with which it lived in symbiosis in the sea. The oyster is chopped with a knife and added to the kidney, also chopped. They pull out some stone-shaped moulds, fill them with this mixture, press it well, and then chill everything. Then they blend an oyster, filter the juice and boil it, later using it as a glaze. The result recalls a stone in the sea, and acquires a darker vein by dipping it quickly into water, isomalt and squid ink. Can’t wait to taste it.

The second dish has more traditional (so to speak) features. It’s a step back, to winter and game, and to venison to be precise. We start with the garnish: Jerusalem artichokes cooked in salt, glazed with oil and Maldon salt, wrapped in foil and cooked for one hour until they become fondant. Once opened, they scoop the pulp with a tablespoon and dry the skin until it acquires the texture of a biscuit. The venison is served as a tataki: raw inside, seared on the outside, rolled in cocoa grue. They add a small tile of potatoes and bay leaves, late radicchio cooked in osmosis in tonic water. Here is the broth, the real “memory” component, the theme of #IGmi19: it’s very concentrated and made by mixing cacao grue, Jerusalem artichoke, bay leaves, toasted onion and celeriac. It’s served with a peat whisky poured on the plate, at the table, with the broth. It releases all its peaty aromas. A beautiful, both simple and complex dish.

SGROPPINO. With the third dish, the chef returns to his origins. It’s a new take on sgroppino, the traditional lemon sorbet served in between fish and meat courses in many Venetian restaurants. Cracco & Sacchi revolutionise its features: «It’s now an oriental sgroppino. We made a traditional sorbet with water, lemon juice and sugar. Instead of adding Prosecco, we used chopped shiso leaves, sake and yuzu juice, for its aroma ». It’s served in a glass “stained” with acacia honey and powdered capers: strong acidity and salty lips you’ll want to lick. The aroma and flavours are incredible, you’d want to keep on drinking it. Sgroppino stop and go.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

IG2019: costruire nuove memorie

Gabriele Zanatta


Gabriele Zanatta

born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes. 
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