Liquid nitrogen is not just for freezing. We were introduced to its refining attributes during our time in the McCrady's kitchen. Sean introduced us to cryo-juicing/pureeing. Our first execution of the technique was with raw peanuts. We put the peanuts in the liquid nitrogen and when they were rock solid and beyond cold, we strained off the nitrogen and ran the peanuts through a Champion juicer with the puree plate in place. By keeping this piece in place the peanuts or any other ingredient running through the machine becomes a silken puree. Since the peanuts are ice cold there is no heat generated in this masticating process allowing the peanuts to retain their uncooked, green flavors and still transform into a smooth and silky puree. While the raw peanut butter did not make the menu, the technique has left an enormous impression on us both.
We also used liquid nitrogen to generate a finely ground powder of sandy green olives. To make the sandy olives we pit them and then dehydrate them until they are completely dry. Once the olives are dry we toss them with sugar. When the olives were coated with sugar, we placed the mixture in liquid nitrogen. The frozen olives were strained and placed in the blender. Within thirty seconds we had a fine powder of olives and sugar. Since the olives and sugar were so cold, they were able to be ground without releasing any of the residual oils and moisture from their flesh. We used the resulting powder to season the foie gras fragment dish which did make the menu.
These two new uses for liquid nitrogen have inspired a list of ideas: from making a pure chorizo puree in the style of the raw peanut butter to grinding licorice candies into fine powders. I also believe we may grind purees and condiments into fine powders which will allow for an exacting application of ingredients from chocolate pudding to guacamole and even ice cream.
Another more common use of the liquid nitrogen which we were able to integrate into the dinner was the creation of eucalyptus dippin' dots, a sorbet we paired with incredible local raspberries and whipped clear whey.