Appetite For Perfection: Growth through a deli roll

 Recently my wife and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. Traditionally the 1st anniversary symbol is paper, so, as paper isn’t the tastiest of ingredients, I decided to make her a photo album. Whilst painting the outside and collating the photos I was reminded of the phenomenal experiences I have had in all aspects of my personal life over the last year and a half. However, my plan in this blog is not to bore you with my experiences, but to talk about some insights into growth i have gleaned from my review.
Being Jewish we always love a good quote from Albert Einstein. He said, ‘Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.’ I have always believed this, that we should never cease growing in all aspects of our lives: spiritually, emotionally and professionally, although hopefully not too much physically. When we reach a point of slight discomfort, we know we are growing healthily.
Once accepted onto Masterchef, my cooking, which until then had only been a hobby, required an intense focus in order to try and succeed on the program and potentially in a culinary career. What I found that was amazing was that, as I had found when in Yeshiva, the more I knew, the more I realized I didn’t know. I honestly did not realize at the time how vast the culinary world was.
One experience that helped spur me to learn then and continue studying afterwards was an incident that occurred during filming of the show. Having never watched the show I am not sure if this was aired so think I am contractually bound to not mention anything that was not aired so therefore will try to be as elusive as possible. Also, being a Rabbi, it is lashon hara (evil speech) to mention names. One of the chefs, who is supposed to be one of the best Israel has to offer and, I’m sure, according to him, the world, when giving a critique of someones dish, said that they went about making it in the completely wrong way. I knew for a fact that the person made it correctly, having seen it done that way by Heston Blumenthal who IS actually one of the best in the world. This chef put this person through to the elimination challenge due to this as was unwilling to listen to anothers’ perspective.
This is plain wrong. We should always be willing to learn from everyone, specifically here in cooking where there are as many techniques as there are people who cook - if not more. I decided then, instead of getting upset for this person, to try and learn everything I could. I try now to never turn my nose up at people who use a microwave instead of a bain marie or whatever they do - something that has definitely helped with all the cooking demonstrations and workshops I have done of recent. Those people who read blogs, watch shows etc and then write insulting and debasing remarks about people - easy to do from the comfort of your own home - would be advised to ponder this!
I have also taken from this to respect even those recipes I feel are weak but that people love, and to try and understand them more. Maybe I shouldn’t stray too far from the norm but can elevate them just by adding subtle twists instead of needing to revolutionize them - clearly the area I fell on MasterChef by being TOO creative for a panel who wanted classic.
In this ilk I have decided to try my hand this week at Deli Roll. Every place I have experienced this it has been an average dish, often immensely dry and to which I had to smother cholent or some kind of condiment just to swallow it. However, soooooo many people make it and love it that I wanted to make my own version whilst keeping aspects of the original so beloved, for whatever reason, by the modern Jewish world. It is also a dish, not classic and timeless yet like a goulash, but one I think will stand the test of time.
Deli roll is classically by spreading mustard on a rolled out piece of chilled puff pastry, filling it with a variety of deli meats, such as smoked turkey, pastrami etc, rolled and baked. I decided to use a mix of dijon mustard and mixed mustard seeds on the dough and top it with a short rib roast that I ground after cooking with a piece of home made salami running through the middle. Make sure to leave an inch around all the edges.
For the roast, pat dry and season the short ribs with salt and pepper and sear for a couple of minutes each side. Then place in a roasting pan with ginger ale, some jam (can use marmalade, but I used a butternut squash, orange and white wine one I had made), onions, garlic, thyme, a little dried chilli and some BBQ sauce (I had a smoky one I made with a lychee base) and roast at 160℃ for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, turning every 45 minutes, until fork tender. Let cool completely and refrigerate overnight to let the flavor meld and then run the meat through a grinder or in your Magimix and spread on top of the mustard on the dough.
For the salami, mix ground beef, salt, sugar, ground pepper, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds, dried thyme and parsley, cumin, ground coriander, chilli flakes and minced garlic. Shape into logs, wrap in foil and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Bring a pot of water to the boil with bay leaves, allspice berries and peppercorns, place the salami logs inside, bring the the boil again and simmer for about an hour. Remove from water, drain, cool down and re-refrigerate. When ready, place at the end of the dough and roll tightly, using water to seal the edges.
When rolled, brush on some whisked egg mixed with silan (date honey) and top with fried onions and garlic. Place in a preheated oven and roast at 180℃ for approximately 45 minutes or until golden.
You can really play around with the meats, flavorings, toppings - whatever you want. Remember, your creativity is only limited by your imagination.