Apple pie on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Just because.
Apple pie on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Just because.
When the Nor'Easter was about halfway through dumping snow on us, Amaya was ready to go out and play. We bundled up and waded through the thick, heavy snow. As we were trudging along Amaya went off in a tangential direction. I stopped and watched her walk for a while. When she was 100+ feet away I yelled to her. "What are you doing? Where are you going?" She didn't miss a beat and responded "To save the trees Daddy."
This fall we planted 3 small apple trees. Amaya was part of the process: from planting them in the ground to daily waterings so they would take root and survive. She was connected. She was attached.
Amaya saw the power and strength of the storm. And she knew that she needed to free her trees from the heavy snow, gently brushing it off the bending branches. "So we can eat apples as a family." she informed me.
Connecting with your food makes a tremendous difference in how you look at it and how it makes you feel. Thanks to our almost 6-year old, the lesson was brought home to us again.
We had visions of turkey grandeur for Thanksgiving. Our Workshop schedule and a Nor'easter encouraged us to change our plans. And we listened. We cut the legs and wings from our birds and then we used our meat saw to cut the backs out of the turkeys. We cut up the backs and added some smoked turkey legs to make a flavorful turkey broth in the pressure cooker. We picked the cooked meat and folded it into the stuffing. We then used the broth to braise the legs. We picked the meat from the braised legs to serve at dinner. We used half of the braising liquid in the stuffing. We used the other half to make a quick gravy.
We used the meat saw to finish cleanly splitting the bird in half so we had breasts and thighs still together for roasting. We seasoned the rest of our birds with salt, put them on racks, and cooked the birds at 62°C for 6 hours in the CVap. Then we browned them in the wood fired oven. It took some careful attention to evenly brown the birds. And it was worth it. We let the turkey rest and then carved them. The breasts were juicy and tender. The thighs were equally juicy and a bit firmer. The meat had an incredible steak-like quality, rich and juicy with a little bit of chew. The turkey tasted like turkey. Not like a brine or a rub or even smoke. At first I was concerned about the texture of the thighs because it was different than what we had done in the past. And then I relaxed, opened up my mind, and enjoyed its meaty goodness. And for those that weren't open to a different texture, there were braised legs: picked, shredded, and equally delicious. Something for everyone, that's what a great Thanksgiving dinner is all about.
Thanksgiving dinner requires folks in kitchens everywhere to dig deep, scrub furiously, organize efficiently, and work hard. The pleasure we enjoy at the table cannot be accomplished without continuous dish and pot washing in the kitchen. Volunteer dishwashers don't just lend a hand. They figure out ways to cut through the mountains of pans, rivers of grease, stacks of plates, and piles of cutlery so that we can put them back into use and continue cooking and serving the meal.
Be thankful for those those kitchen helpers. They make a big difference in your world. And if you're not the one cooking, take a few moments to step back from admiring the Spatchcocked turkeys and slow roasted pork shoulders to lend a hand in the kitchen where it can do the most good. Cheerful dishwashers make the culinary world a better place. We are thankful for them and all of our loved ones, friends, readers, eaters, and fellow kitchen enthusiasts this Thanksgiving Day.
Sometimes you send someone out for pumpkin for pie and they come back with pumpkin pie filling. If it's the night before Thanksgiving and there's a heavy layer of snow on the ground you roll with it. The recipe on the can was okay but a quick glance at the ingredients told me there was no salt in the cans or the recipe, so I decided to wing it. My quick pumpkin pie filling was 1 1/2 cans pumpkin pie filling (I made 2 pies for tomorrow so I used 3 cans and doubled everything else), 1 cup of cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, 3 large eggs, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoons tapioca starch, and 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt. Mix well and pour into a prepared crust, Bake for 20 minutes at 425°F, lower temperature to 325°F and bake for and additonal 45-50 minutes, until the pie is just set when you gently shake the pan. The batter was delicious, and old fashioned spiced pumpkin pie deserves a come back every now and then.
We thinly sliced Persian cucumbers, set them aside and then blended yellow mustard, white wine vinegar and salt together. We vacuum sealed the sliced cucumbers with the marinade and shortly thereafter discovered that yellow mustard pickles are the thing I never knew I was missing.
Amaya has a thing about pie dough. It has to taste like cookies (her description) in order for her to eat it. Otherwise she happily scoops the filling out of the pie and leaves the crust behind. Never one to resist a challenge I have experimented with different ways to make my all butter pie crust even better. This one was a winner. It's 50% white wheat flour, blind baked at 350°F for 30 minutes with pie weights. Then I mixed a tablespoon of sugar with a teaspoon or so of water so it had the texture of wet sand. I removed the pie weights and brushed the inside and outer edges of the crust with the sandy sugar. Bake for 10 minutes more and voila! sugar crusted pie dough that will make the pickiest pie eater happy.
Alex and Amaya were whispering in the corner so I knew something was up. The next thing I knew Amaya climbed into my lap and said, "Mommy will you make some pumpkin pie."
"Sure honey, do you want that today?"
"No, whenever you feel like making it is--" She was interrupted by a loud throat clearing and we both looked over to see Alex shaking his head at her. She turned back and gave me her bigest smile, "I mean, today would be great!"
As I was going to make the pie Alex whipped a can of home made dulce de leche out of the fridge. "How about using this?" and so Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Pie was made in our kitchen for the very first time. It definitely won't be the last. This pie has a sweet pumpkin flavor that slowly gives way to a rich caramel goodness that lingers in your mouth. It's the kind of pie that brings you back to the kitchen long after dinner is done for just one more tiny sliver, because you can't resist it.
*You can use all cornstarch in the recipe below but we find that the tapioca starch gives the finished custard a softer, silkier texture.
**I almost forgot to include the secret ingredient, a teaspoon of maple vinegar helps soften all that sweetness and pull everything together.
Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
1 prepared 9-inch pie crust already in the pie pan
one 435 gram / 15-ounce container of pumpkin (we like the organic)
one 397 gram / 14-ounce can of condensed milk dulce de leche (store-bought or you can pressure cook canned condensed milk for 90 minutes in water bath, let the pressure release naturally, and cool cans completely before opening to make your own.)
21 grams / 3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 grams / 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
3 grams / 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs
240 grams / 1 cup half and half
5 grams / 1 teaspoon maple balsamic vinegar
4 grams / 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Preheat oven to 425°F. (220°C.)
Put the pumpkin, dulce de leche, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk thoroughly to blend. Add the eggs, half and half, maple vinegar, and vanilla and whisk gently until the mixture forms a smooth batter. Pour the pumpkin pie filling into the prepared pie crust and set on a baking sheet. Carefully slide it into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F., and bake for 45 minutes. Check the pie by gently shaking the pan and if the center is still wobbly return to the oven and check in in 5-minutes increments until the center is set. Let cool completely before serving.
***We like to serve this pie chilled with freshly whipped cream after dinner and plain for breakfast--if you can keep it around that long.
We started the process with deep fried onions. Then we added deep fried beef ribs from a 3-bone roast. We poured Dr. Pepper into the pan until it came 2/3 of the way up the ribs and added a healthy glug of soy sauce. Then we covered the pan with foil and braised the ribs in a 300°F oven for three and a half hours. The Dr. Pepper and soy sauce blended with the meat and onion juices, bathing the ribs in flavorful goodness. The sauce was rich: sweet, fatty, and meaty with a deep onion flavor to round out the meat. We balanced it with a splash of red wine vinegar. These ribs were ready to eat straight from the pan as the meat slid right off the bones. With a little patience they could have been pulled and folded into the sauce to make a delicious filling for a ravioli or an amazing ragout for pasta or polenta. Note to self, any liquid that tastes good can make something else taste even better.
Sometimes we all just need a chocolate fix.
Chocolate Pudding Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
One 9-inch pie crust, blind baked and cooled completely
780 grams / 3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
300 grams / 1 1/2 cups sugar
28 grams / 1/4 cup cornstarch
3 grams / 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
225 grams / 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (we use Ghirardelli)
28 grams / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 grams / 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
For the Topping:
3 snack size Butterfingers or 1 large bar
420 grams / 3/4 cups heavy cream
30 grams / 1/4 cup powdered sugar
0.75 grams / 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Put the milk and egg yolks in a medium pot and whisk to blend. Add the sugar, cornstarch, and salt and whisk until just blended. Set the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, vanilla, and butter (all at the same time) and stir until everything melts and is incorporated into the pudding. Pour the pudding into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until the filling is cold and set.
Chop up the Butterfinger(s) and set aside. Put the heavy cream, powdered sugar and 1/8 teaspoons salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk by hand or with an electric mixer until the cream forms stiff peaks. Mound the cream onto the top of the pie. Sprinkle the chopped Butterfingers over the top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, so the whipped cream has a chance to set up, before serving.
Chefs and passionate cooks will often recount stories of the small obsessions that started their love affair with the kitchen. Pancakes, ramen noodles, scrambled eggs, these are the dishes that got them started, that taught them how small changes in the cooking process could make a big difference. Experimenting in their kitchens teaches cooks how to make dishes their own. As we grow up we have more knowledge and experience in our arsenals but it's interesting how those childhood favorites, like pepperoni pizza, are the dishes that bring passion to the table. They are the one we come back to again and again, tweaking endlessly, just because we love to eat them.
We started with boneless short ribs. We seasoned them heavily with our meat seasoning, a blend of brown sugar, salt and cayenne. We refrigerated the meat overnight on cooling racks in the refrigerator. The salt and sugar drew some moisture out of the meat and then drew some seasoning back into the meat. The following morning we cold smoked the short ribs. Our smoker got a bit hot and some of the fat started to melt. It blended with the seasonings on the surface of beef and coated the meat. We removed the just warming meat from the smoker and cooled it down. We did this based on habit, though in retrospect we could have put the short ribs directly into our pressure cooker and cooked them immediately. On the other hand, the cooling process gave us time to think through whether or not we actually wanted to braise the short ribs...
We took the smoked mackerel essence and blended it with an equal weight of herbs, split between between blanched parsley and cilantro leaves. We thickened and emulsified the sauce with 0.15% xanthan gum and 0.5% gum arabic. We strained it and ended up with a vibrant and rich green sauce. We took leaves of Napa cabbage and sliced them vertically through the stems. We put a spoonful of bacon fat in a cast iron skillet and heated it in the wood fired oven. When the skillet and fat were hot we we added the leaves and returned the skillet to the oven to let the leaves start to blister. When the curling edges had taken on a foxy brown hue we removed the skillet from the oven. We poured the leaves and bacon fat into a bowl and added the juice of a quarter of a Meyer lemon and a sprinkling of coarse salt to make a rough vinaigrette, tossing the cabbage to coat the leaves. We spooned the green sauce onto the plates and then arranged the Napa cabbage on top. We finished the warm salad with a spoonful of the remaining vinaigrette from the bowl. The leaves were barely tender, crisp, and surprisingly juicy, with a rich earthy flavor, brightened by the Meyer lemon, and accented with a combination of bacon and smoke.
We were seasoning mackerel. We wanted to coat the fillets with seasonings and to apply a flavor glue of sorts to keep the spices in place. We could have simply dusted the mackerel with the spice blends and let them adhere and hydrate using the moisture and oils on the surface of the fish. Instead we wanted a flavorful base to combine with the spices and keep them in place. We reached for the 2 condiments that we always have on hand: mayonnaise and mustard.
We brushed the fish with the mustard and mayonnaise and then sprinkled 2 of Lior's seasonings onto them. We let them air dry overnight in the refrigerator to allow the spices to adhere and permeate the fish. The following day we cooked the fillets 2 different ways: in the wood fired oven and in the CVap. The results were surprising. The wood fired fish was meaty, rich, and not overly fishy, as mackerel has a tendency to be. The spices bloomed and toasted in the cast iron skillet. The mackerel cooked in the CVap was especially moist and rich but the flavor of the spices was weak and the mackerel's oily, slightly heavy flavor profile was more intense.
Our observations of the results will guide our next steps in cooking fish, especially mackerel. Spices want to be toasted. High heat firms the fish and provides an appealing texture. Perhaps we can use both methods and reverse our steps: first searing in the oven and then slowly finishing in the CVap, allowing the aromatic spices to further flavor the fish as it cooks in the moist, gentle environment.
We were pressure cooking beets and we wanted a simple and flavorful liquid to cook them in. A liquid that had character but would not overpower the beets. Our fall refrigerator is always stocked with apple cider. It was as easy as opening the door, looking around, and having the a-ha moment. I put medium-large beets in the pressure cooker and covered them two thirds of the way with apple cider. We pressure cooked them for 45 minutes. Then we let the pressure dissipate naturally. Normally we would peel the cooled beets and reserve them separately, only occasionally using the cooking liquid. Here we cooled the beets completely in the cooking liquid to let the infusion intensify.
The following day we removed the beets from the apple-beet cider. We peeled them and then tasted. They were sweet, earthy, and juicy. The cooking liquid was also flavorful and delicious, a refreshing blend of apples and beets. We often discard or reduce beet cooking liquids down to syrups. Not here. The apple-beet cider was full flavored and stood on its own. We seasoned the apple-beet cider with 0.5% salt and then divided it into 2 parts. The first part we used to vacuum seal raw pink lady apples. The second part we froze to make a granita. Upon reflection we realized that we should have saved some just for drinking. It is an incredibly refreshing liquid, vivid both in color and flavor.
When Minus 8 started making a concord vinegar it became apparent that we should use the rotary evaporator to make another vinegar syrup. We started with 700ml of Minus 8's Concord 8 vinegar. We set our bath temperature at 30°C and the rotation at 130 rpm's. The vinegar took about 3 hours to reduce to a syrup. We ended up with roughly equal parts aromatic acetic acid and concentrated concord grape syrup. The acetic acid was sharp and had the floral notes of foxy grapes. The Concentr8 was sweet, sour, floral, and smooth on the palate. It still retained a concord aroma and vinegar acidity. They were rounded and smooth. A harmonious flavor profile. As if it had been aged for years instead of cold reduced in hours.
Why hadn't we done that? It seemed so obvious. And yet we missed the idea in plain sight. We cook with plenty of hot smoked turkey legs, wings, and tails. We have witnessed fried turkey legs at state fairs and amusement parks. And deep fried turkeys continue to have a love-hate affair with the food world. We had not treated a turkey like a fried chicken. More specifically we had not treated a turkey like our cold smoked fried chicken from Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work, with our upgraded potato starch crust.
We started with a whole bird. We cut the back off and used it along with a few other odds and ends to make smoked turkey broth. We frenched the legs and split each thigh in half through the bone. We cut each breast, through the breast bone, into 6 steaks. (I used our serrated knife as a saw. Not the best choice for turkey bones. Now I owe Aki a new serrated knife.) We butterflied the wing flats and left the drummettes whole. We cold smoked the bird for 2 hours. Then we put it into our buttermilk brine. We used Steve Stallard's Blis Blast as our hot sauce to flavor the brine.
We brined the bird for 24 hours. (It could take even longer if time allows.) Then we dredged the pieces in seasoned potato starch and refrigerated the coated bird overnight. This allowed the starch to hydrate and successfully cling to the turkey. We fried the turkey in batches and then finished it in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
The turkey was juicy, smokey, crispy, and decadent. Upon cooling the leftovers and then rewarming them, the bird degraded. It was not as pleasurable as it was straight from the fryer and oven, so we reccomend that any leftovers are eaten cold or at room temperature. A few modifications are in order. First up is buying a butcher saw. They cost under thirty bucks and can cut through bones better than the knife I messed up in the process. This will allow us to cut the turkey into smaller pieces. The smaller size will increase suface area for more brine penetration. It will also allow for more crispy coating and a faster cooking time. Finally, a lower oven temperature to finish cooking the bird should make it even tender and juicy, so we have better leftovers.
And cranberry BBQ sauce is in the works as a side for this upgraded Thanksgiving Turkey.
We took the mackerel bones and soaked them in a 5% salt solution for 30 minutes. Then we put them into a smoking tray and smoked them for an hour. We used maple wood chip pucks in our Bradley smoker. When the bones and trim were smoked we cooled them down and refrigerated them overnight.
The following day we debated. The initial idea was to make a smoked mackerel broth. The thing is that most of the time we end up reducing them down to an essence. Or at the very least we reduce them a bit to concentrate the flavor. Instead of following our usual process we tried something different. If we wanted a flavor essence, we should start by making an one.
We put the smoked mackerel bones and leek tops into a bowl. We inserted the bowl in our pressure cooker with an inch of water surrounding the bowl. We pressure steamed the mackerel and leeks so that they released their flavorful juices. Then we strained the mixture. We had an intense, rich, fatty, smokey, allium-centric fish concentrate. Our yield was about 225 grams (a cup) of smoked mackerel and leek essence. Then the ideas began to form: clear Caesar dressing, the flavoring for a salsa verde, the sauce to glaze potatoes. The essence both stood on its own and became a foundation to build upon.
First cut lamb shoulder chops have a similar appeal to a first cut beef shoulder. These chops have nice marbling, a variety of muscles and textures, and plenty of flavor. Depending on where you buy your meat, the thickness of the shoulder chop will vary. In most cases lamb shoulder chops are cut an inch thick. So, the first two chops, coming off the rib eye end of the lamb where it joins the shoulder, fall into our category of first (and second) cut chops. You will know the chops by the rib bones attached. If there are no rib bones attached, it is most likely not a first cut shoulder chop. (There is the possibility that the rib bones were removed, but it's not likely.)
We seasoned seasoned our chops with the floral Tangier spice blend from Lior at La Boite. Then we laid them out on a rack set over a sheet pan and let them air dry in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the spices to hydrate from the moisture on the surface of the chops and then permeate the meat with their aromas.
To cook the chops we slid them, still unsalted, into a pan with smoked turkey broth. We cooked the chops, flipping them once, in a CVap at 57°C for three hours. When they were done we removed them from their cooking liquid and seasoned them with salt. Finally we seared them in a cast iron skillet in the wood oven.
When they were done, we let them rest for a few minutes and then carved them up. The fat had become melting and tender. The variety of muscles in the chop had textures ranging from tender to chewy, and the meat was flavorful and juicy, so each bite was slightly different and extremely tasty.
We have spent a lot of time tinkering with risotto:
With the Ramenized Rice in the kitchen we started down another path with risotto.
We put 1 part rice and approximately 5 parts hot, pressure-cooked smoked turkey broth into a pot and brought the mixture to a boil. We cooked it at a rolling boil. The stock evaporated. The rice thickened. The grains of rice retained their shape and structure. They did not break apart. As the rice and stock cooked together it gained the texture of risotto. I finished the rice with a knob of butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. We had a creamy, chewy, perfect risotto in 3 minutes. And remember, the rice had been soaked in baking soda water the day before and still performed beautifully, perfectly, after resting overnight.
After noodling around our next thoughts took us to rice. What if we could make a tender and chewy rice? We started with our bath of 1% baking soda and 0.5% salt dissolved in water. We added Tamaki Haiga rice to the bath and let it soak for one and a half hours. We drained the rice and rinsed it once in cold water. Then we dried the rice on paper towels. We boiled a pot of water and then added a handful of the rice. It cooked in about 3 minutes. It was tender and chewy, not al dente, but fully hydrated, sweet, and toothsome with each grain remaining separate and intact. Though it didn't have the classic sticky texture of short grain rice, it was delicious in a new and different way. Now begins the exploration of what we can do with this rice technique.
With the success of our Ramenized cappellini fresh in our heads, we wanted to see what else was possible. We kept our hydrating bath the same: 1% baking soda and 0.5% salt. We soaked linguine for ninety minutes. It became flexible and tender. After draining, I pulled on some of the noodles to see how they felt. They were simultaneously firm and stretchy. We boiled them in water for about 2 minutes. Then we drained the noodles and added a chorizo enriched beef broth. We cooked the noodles, stirring constantly, in the broth. They absorbed the liquid without becoming too soft or flabby. The strands of pasta weren't sticking to each other and they had an incredibly elastic appearance. The finished linguine had a savory chew and were easily slurped up from the soup. The altered texture increased the pleasure in consuming them and enhanced the functionality of serving them.
We cleaned up the filets. Then we scored them to add nooks, crannies and potential texture. We slathered them with a mixture of honey, dijon mustard, and soy sauce. Then we partially froze them. When the exterior was solid, we deep fried them in batches. The exterior browned. The scoring opened up and produced textural elements to the outside of the meat.
We slid the filets into the CVap for 2 hours to cook. When we were ready to serve them we fried them again to re-crisp the exterior and add a final blast of heat. We then rubbed them with butter, let them rest for a minute or two, and sliced away. The finished beef had a crunchy, caramelized crust with a juicy, tender interior. The meat had a nice beefy flavor with a haunting kiss of honey mustard. Each bite made you wish for a little bit more.
Alliterations help me connect ideas. I was looking for a flavorful medium to cook golden beets. I came across a vat of Texas Pete's Buffalo Wing sauce. I had never had Buffalo beets before. I felt the acidity and heat from the sauce would compliment the sweet earthiness of the beets.
I started by combining the wing sauce with water. Then I added the beets and simmered them for an hour and a half. When the beets were cake-tester tender I turned off the heat and let them cool in the cooking liquid. Then I peeled them and strained and reserved the flavorful cooking liquid.
I cut the beets into wedges and deep fried them for several minutes to create a nicely browned crust on their exterior. For the first test I put them into a sixth pan and glazed them with some of the reserved cooking liquid and several knobs of butter. The sauce emulsified, gently coating the beets. The heat of the Buffalo wing sauce did not overpower, instead the beets were spicy, earthy, rich, and aromatic with a sweet, lingering finish.
We had never attempted to deep fry a whole celery root. That is often the catalyst for trying a new idea. We washed, scrubbed, and dried three roots of different sizes. We placed them into a 350°F fryer and submerged them in the hot oil. The skins darkened and crinkled. After 15 minutes had passed, we used a cake tester to see if they were hot inside. They were. We removed them from the fryer and let them rest at room temperature to carry-over cook and cool.
When the deep fried celery roots cooled to room temperature we sliced them. The smallest was the most translucent. The largest (pictured here), as would be expected, was the least translucent, but still cooked through. Pieces sampled from all three were firm, meaty, juicy, and sweet, with a rich celery flavor. The skin was toasty and fully edible. We ended up serving the fried celery roots sliced and drizzled with a bit of spicy cherry pepper caramel.
November 6, 2010
We've braised pork belly in cream soda. It is delicious. Recently I was looking for an element to help cut through the fatty richness of the marbled belly meat and balance the sweetness of the cream soda. I found my answer on the pantry shelf. I grabbed a large jar of pickled cocktail onions and added the entire thing to the pan with the cream soda. I deep fried thick strips of pork belly to evenly brown them, then nestled the meat in the cream soda and onion mixture, and cooked the belly for 3 hours at 300°F. The fat rendered and softened and the meat became tender. The cocktail onions melded with the cream soda and pork juices, adding their acidity to the sauce. Served with the pork belly, the vanilla notes of the soda provided a rich depth to the entire dish. It was a slightly unorthodox combination that created something truly special.
We were preparing for a large demonstration workshop. We started with the idea of pickled beets. Then we omitted the acidity. Instead we used an aggressive amount of pickling spice. We put the beets, the spice, and a bunch of concord grapes into a large pot. The beets were covered with two inches of water and hidden beneath the raft of pickling spices. We simmered the beets for an hour and a half and then let them cool in the cooking liquid for another hour. We then removed them from the bath, and let them cool enough to handle. FInally they were peeled and shaved with a mandoline.
The aromas of the pickling spice permeated the beets. The concord grapes added a bit of sweetness and appeared to deepen the color of the beets. The flavor and texture were quite impressive, and yet, they were lacking something. Then I caught the aroma of cooking guanciale. Another chef was rendering some nearby. I asked if he had a plan for the fat. He said he needed some but not all of it. I took as much as he could spare.
I dragged thinly sliced beets through the fat drippings. The two elements together were incredible. A light sprinkling of coarse salt finished it off. Aromatic shaved beets and guanciale fat. I would not have thought to put them together before. By being open to the inspirations and environment around me allowed me to connect the dots.
It started with the idea of chicken fried steak: pounded, floured, and shallow fried. Then--why not make chicken fried chicken? We had chicken. Whole chickens. The initial idea was to bone out and flatten the entire bird. That thought was quickly squashed when we realized how big that would be. But a half a chicken would still be quite impressive. So we integrated some improvements that we have made along the way in our chicken frying exploits. We scored the flesh of the chicken. We brined the meat in spiced buttermilk. We added potato starch to the breading for the bird.
The results were a massive sheet of fried chicken. It was crispy, juicy, and far too large for one person to enjoy alone. It's a dish meant for sharing. And it needs to go on a menu somewhere.
We have been working on lower using a lower temperature and a longer time period to roast grains. It provides a greater window for us to observe what is happening. We evenly cook fine flours and observe the changes in appearance and aroma. When they reaches an aromatic pinnacle, we pull the flour from the oven, and cool it down. Recently we cooked dark rye on a sheet pan in a 250°F oven for 2 hours. The rye flour bloomed. The color of the grain darkened only slightly.
When making flavored noodles, we have found that full flavored grains can be too powerful on their own. To make our roasted rye noodles we combined 660 grams of semolina with 340 grams of roasted rye flour. We started with 300 grams of water (30% hydration). The semolina and roasted rye needed additional moisture because the slow roasting had changed the flour's original water content. We added an additional 25 grams of water. Depending on the moisture of your flours the hydration percentage will vary.
We used the new 1.2mm Spacatelli die #390 from Arcobaleno. The noodles were aromatic and flavorful. The thicker walls added structure and bite to the fresh noodles. They were a delicious vehicle for our sugo of braised meats. And next up I'm looking forward to serving them with some pastrami bolognese.
November 2, 2009
In our youth we indulged in a few wine clubs. Though our budgets are tighter now, this means that when the occasion calls for it, we can pull out something pretty special. Good friends visiting our new home for the first time definitely calls for a great bottle of wine.