JOSÉ CARLOS MARTÍN: BRAISED LAMB WITH POMEGRANATE SAUCE
La Almunia de Doña Godina (Aragon)
Chef-proprietor, El Patio de Goya and a collective of the town’s cooks
Dish: Braised Lamb with Pomegranate Juice / Guisado de Carnero and tapas
Steadily, during three decades of economic ebb and flow, José Carlos Martín has nurtured local gastronomy at El Patio, the family-owned restaurant and hotel in La Almunia that he bought with his brother in 1987. Along the way they have added tapas, tasting menus and a new dining room as well as an avant-garde slant to the menu. When I invited Carlos to recreate two recipes for New Art, he chose first borage broth, which he has enjoyed at home since he was a child, and, second, mutton with pomegranate juice. For the latter he took the man-who-ate-everything approach; he sourced an eight-year old ewe from a local sheep-breeder, who butchered it in the carne y hueso style. with meat and fat on the bone. Back in his restaurant kitchen José Carlos then trimmed and shaped the meat into small, thick steaks designed for slow braising . Alongside that he recreated the recipe with the meat of milk-fed cordero lechal and six-month recental to see how the three tasted when cooked the same way, and finally he brightened the plate with jewel-like pomegranate seeds and a sweet potato purée. “I’d never have come up with the idea myself,” says José Carlos, “but the sweet and astringent pomegranate juice balances the richness of the braised meat perfectly. ” When I was asked to develop workshops with the town’s cooks, José Carlos followed through to nurture and support each of them as they created original tapas based on Altamiras’s recipes for the presentation of the book. I remember opening the workshop with Ferran Adrià’s inmortal phrase, “Crear es no copiar”, and the half-dozen tapas produced for the presentation and for the Altamiras festival the following year were exceptional and entirely original.