Black Axe Mangal is one of the most innovative and unconventional restaurants operating in London at the moment. What began as a six-week pop-up in the backyard of a Copenhagen nightclub is now a 20-seat restaurant on the edge of a roundabout in North London. Although small, Chef Lee Tiernan’s riotous space has attracted lines of in-the-know food lovers, global critics and the world’s best chefs.
Like the eponymous restaurant, Black Axe Mangal showcases a variety of explosive flavours and underused ingredients, with open-fire cooking and classic techniques. Readers are introduced to the three pillars of Tiernan’s cooking: smoking, grilling, and breads. With step-by-step explanations on key techniques, mostly photographed in Tiernan’s home kitchen and garden, fans of the restaurant will finally have the opportunity to learn the secrets behind the restaurant’s most iconic dishes.
All of Black Axe Mangal’s signature recipes are featured—from their famous flatbreads to the Pig’s Cheek and Prune Doughnuts, Aubergine and Ricotta Flatbread, Peanut and Foie Gras Bars, and Tiernan’s own version of the Crispy Pancake. There are also dishes from the earlier Danish pop-up, as well as guest recipes like Matty Matheson’s Return of the Mac and the BAM Whiskey Sourz created by the British bartending legend Mr. Lyan.
Black Axe Mangal is typified by Tiernan himself—funny, honest…and a little bit sweary. His passion is felt throughout the book, and it is a passion to make truly delicious food, no holds barred, on his own terms. Tiernan sticks by a rule of not having rules—making what he wants, changing it up, combining different flavours and influences from international cuisines, with just one aim: to never be mediocre. It is this honesty and unrestricted creativity that has become the backbone of Black Axe Mangal.
Aubergine and Ricotta Flatbread
This particular topping was born out of desperation when squash was making its way out of season. We blister the aubergines (eggplant) in the oven then smoke them until they are on the verge of collapse. The onion and the garlic add depth, but we found this out by accident really—there were a lot of onions leftover one night after service, so we added them to the aubergine rather than throw them away, and it somehow brought it to life. I like it when dishes come about like that.
hand-held (immersion) blender
pizza oven, pizza stone or cast-iron frying pan (skillet)
2 pizza peels
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and halved lengthways sunflower oil
3 medium aubergines (eggplants)
30 ml (1 fl oz/2 tablespoons) pomegranate molasses 30 ml (1 fl oz/2 tablespoons) fermented turnip juice (or water)
a handful of nettle or mint leaves
butter, for frying
1 x quantity BAM Basic Flatbread Dough (recipe below)
250 g/9 oz ricotta
red or black chilli flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Warm the olive oil in a frying pan (skillet) over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until soft and golden, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Toss the onion in a mixing bowl with a touch of sunflower oil and a generous pinch of salt. In a griddle pan over high heat, blacken the cut side of the onion, around 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast in the oven until the onion has softened but still possess a little bite, around 20–25 minutes.
While the onion is roasting, blacken the aubergines (eggplants) in the griddle pan in the same way, turning occasionally until well charred. Transfer the aubergines to a separate baking sheet and roast in the oven until they soften and collapse, around 20 minutes. Lift them by their tops with tongs to remove from the baking sheet. The aubergines will be quite delicate, so have a plate or bowl handy to transfer them onto. Allow to cool for a few minutes so they can be handled easily. You can also cook the onion and aubergines on a barbecue, especially if you have used it to make your breads. Just blacken as above, and then move to a cooler part of the barbecue to fully soften.
To prepare the aubergines, pick the tops up and discard, then scoop out the flesh and transfer to a sieve over a bowl, pressing a little to get rid of any excess liquid. If there are a few bits of charred skin dotted through the aubergine don’t worry too much, as it adds to the flavour. Tip the aubergines into a mixing bowl, and, using a hand-held (immersion) blender or food processor whizz with the pomegranate molasses, turnip juice or water, garlic and blackened onions to a smooth purée. Season to taste.
If you are using nettle leaves, heat a little butter in a frying pan (skillet) over medium heat and fry a few at a time, until crisp. Season with salt then set aside on paper towels to soak up any excess fat. If you are using mint, keep it fresh.
Pat out the first piece of Flatbread Dough following the method on page 60 (recipe below). Once on the pizza peel, smear a heaped tablespoon or so of the aubergine and onion purée all over the dough with the back of a spoon. Follow the steps to cook the bread on pages 60–62. The dough should be blackened in places. Remove from the oven with the second pizza peel.
To serve, blob with the ricotta and sprinkle with the chilli flakes and nettles or mint. Finish with the Lemon Oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Repeat with the rest of the dough and toppings, and serve.
BAM Basic Flatbread Dough
The addition of smoked potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes adds another dimension to the flatbread flavour, but it’s by no means necessary. Also, if you are lactose intolerant or vegan then swap the milk in this recipe for water. The milk enriches the dough, but it’s not essential. The potatoes can make the dough a little more difficult to pat out, but just don’t go too thin. A good tip is to double the amount of poolish you make for the first time you try this, in case of any accidents, failures or spillages. It is imperative that you weigh out the ingredients for this recipe rather than using cup measures, which is why there are none below.
small plastic container with lid for the poolish large plastic container with a tight-fitting lid for bulk rising the dough
cling film (plastic wrap)
8–10 x 450 g/1 lb containers with lids such as disposable cups with lids/takeaway containers tray for rolling dough
MAKES 8–9 BREADS FOR THE POOLISH
10 g/1⁄4 oz fresh yeast
100 g/31⁄2 oz wholemeal (wholewheat) flour 100 g/31⁄2 oz plain (all-purpose) flour
FOR THE DOUGH
375 g/13 oz plain (all-purpose) flour
190 g/63⁄4 oz strong white bread flour
190 g/63⁄4 oz strong wholemeal (wholewheat) bread flour
7 g/1 teaspoon fresh yeast
23 g/3⁄4 oz salt
350 g/12 oz Poolish (see below)
225 ml/8 fl oz whole (full-fat) milk
150 g/5 oz Smoked Potatoes or Jerusalem Artichokes (optional; page 196)
First, make the poolish. The day before you make your dough mix 200 ml/7 fl oz cold water with the yeast in the small lidded container. Add the flours and use one hand to incorporate everything, making sure there are no pockets of dry flour or lumps of yeast. It should be thick and fairly smooth with a bit of effort, ending up with a mixture that resembles
a thick milkshake.
Cover the poolish with the lid and mature in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 6 hours. By this time the poolish should have doubled in size.
Now to make the dough. Weigh out the flours, yeast and salt into the large plastic container.
Reset the scales and weigh out the poolish.
Reset again, add the milk and 350 ml/121⁄4 fl oz water, and break down the poolish and the yeast with your hand. Give it all a good mix, then break the Smoked Potatoes over the top (if using). Now all you need to do is rest the mix with the lid securely on your tub for 30–40 minutes, or up to an hour if you’re working in a cooler environment. This resting period is known as autolyse, which is the first step in the bulk fermentation. This is an important step and one that should always be observed. Autolyse allows the flour to absorb the liquid and encourages the gluten to bond into chains that will extend the elasticity of the dough, and ultimately improve the quality of the dough as well as the flavour.
Once everything has gotten to know each other, the next step is the first of three turns. To prevent the dough from sticking to your hands, wet one hand and forearm under warm water, slip your hand down the side of the tub, pinch a fistful of dough, gently lift the dough up and fold over to the opposite side of the container. Avoid hoisting the dough so high that it tears on the first turn; the dough is still weak at this stage and will have the least resistance of the three turns. Remember that aggression is not your friend here, and a gentle but firm approach will encourage growth and yield a better flavour. Repeat this move a further two times, pinching the areas of dough that haven’t been turned already.
Place the lid back on the container, then leave in a warm place, undisturbed, for 30 minutes. Copy this method a second time, again leaving the dough covered and undisturbed for 30 minutes. As you progress through turns two and three you will find the dough more cooperative, and with each turn, you should notice a higher elasticity in the dough and signs of activity happening. After the third turn, inspect your dough one final time before storing it in the refrigerator overnight for bulk fermentation.
The dough you’re looking at in the tub in front of you should be smooth, risen and slappable. If it’s not you’ve fucked up somewhere along the line and sorry to say that attempting to rectify the dough at this stage is futile… but I bet you’re happy you took my advice about making double the amount of poolish, right? Ensure the lid is fitted snugly to the tub when refrigerating, as any exposure to air will form a skin which will affect the rise.
After overnight bulk fermentation, the dough is ready to be portioned. It will be about 1.7 kg/3 lb 11 oz or 1.85 kg/4 lb 1 oz total weight (if using potato or artichoke). Take the lids off the small containers and get your scales ready along with a bowl of warm water for dipping your hand into when portioning. Remove the tub from the refrigerator. The dough should be billowy, stretchy and wet. This can get messy so always keep one hand free of dough for grabbing containers, texting, Instagram… Dip one hand in the warm water, take a fistful of dough and weigh it out to 210 g/71⁄2 oz. Place the dough in the containers as you go, then secure the lids and leave in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours. Portioning is quite traumatic for the dough, so the breads need this time to relax. If you attempt to pat out the dough too soon after portioning it’ll be reluctant to cooperate. Now the dough is portionedit will retard at a very slow rate, held in a kind of stasis. If you have a decent refrigerator the dough will be good for 2–3 days.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Phaidon.