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Posts posted by dmbolus

  1. jk1002,

    If you are going to do chicken sous vide you must leave the skin on. We sous vide 1/2 chickens in single bags on the menu. Once out of the bag we crisp up the skin in a blue steal (French cast iron) pan with enough oil just to coat the bottom of the pan. I agree with you that searing the chicken itself ruins the sous vide experience, but with the skin on it protects the meat itself and also provides a brilliant crispy element to the chicken without having to deep fry it.

  2. From what I understand the term grain alcohol is the definition mainly for bourbons, whiskeys, and vodkas (unless specified as a potato vodka). Rum comes mainly from sugar cane, tequila from the agave plant, and schnaps I think are mainly from fruit. I have used a pear schnaps to make an extract with vanilla that has turned out to be wonderful. Not only did it take on the sweat vanilla taste (obviously) but it maintained the pear flavor which is what I was hoping for. This extract has turned simple things such as ice creams, cakes, and custards into totally different desserts. I have also used bourbon to make the extract which again gave off a great vanilla flavor but I found the bourbon flavor turned bitter (much more so than normal). I think this is because I used such a cheap brand. I have found that unless you are using vodka then the quality of the liquor does make a difference in the taste of the final product. Also, it is important to use the proper bean for the liquor base. If using something strong such as a bourbon or whiskey I have found it better to use a stronger flavored bean such as a Mexican bean so it can compete properly with the strong flavors in the alcohol. I am working next on a peach extract using peach schnapps as my base.

  3. When using the raw vanilla like that you are not going to find the flavor compounds like we are used to when tasting extract or "vanilla flavored foods". The true depth and complexity will come from the cooking process, and I say it that way because I do not always mean heat, chemical cooking will help bring out the flavor as well. So the noodles and the cheese if cooked with vanilla in some compacity will begin to take on an entirely new flavor.

  4. I like to keep it simple when trying to determine the difference between sweet and savory. I know this is not a text book deffinition nor the way most look at it, but put simply if a dish is for dessert, a sweet breakfast item (i.e. french toast, waffles, etc.) or is just a traditionally sweet dish then it is "sweet". Anything for lunch, dinner, aps, salads, soups, etc. are "savory". Of course any of these dishes main contain one or more sweet elements (such as vanilla) but are traditionally not sweet items.

  5. Please do not think that I believe you are complaining about the beans at all. I am just very passionate about vanilla and sometimes run on at the mouth about the whole thing. When I use any type of liquor or wine to cook with I always choose something that I would personally drink. This does lead to a more expensive end result but the final product is so much better. I worked with several chef's in London, England when I was going to school their that would only make their stocks (vegetable, chicken, veal, etc.) with bottled water. I could not understand this until I saw the results of rich, clear, beautiful stocks that had only the taste of the ingredients used to make them. The same is true when making a vanilla extract. You were exactly right when you assumed that a cheap vodka would make a good extract, and it will for the everyday person. But when you have someone like us who wants the best flavor and the cleanest taste we have to step things up and buy higher quality ingredients for the project, and in the end we have the best extracts to use.

  6. When making an extract you have to do a little research on the flavor profile of the beans. When you say that the Tahitians do not smell as good or as rich as the Madagascars there is a reason for that. Madagascar beans, their flavor and aroma, is the most common and the benchmark of what vanilla should look like, smell like, and how it should taste. Take Mexican vanilla for example. It is like the dark roast of vanilla, robust and oily. This would pair well with a spirit that has more flavor to it already such as a spiced rum or high proof bourbon. The Tahitians on the other hand are lighter than both the Mads and the Mexicans but have more spice to them (in the flavor sense not heat) thus they will produce a different end result in the extract making.

    Random question off the subject. Can anyone tell me where to get the red wax used to seal bottles like they use on Makers Mark?

  7. Vanilla extract is a simple process and one of those that should not be toyed with to much simply because it is so easy and so perfect in what it is. All you need is distilled spirits and vanilla beans. No need to grind them, or split them, or anything else. Now I will admit that I have several different types of spirits going as extracts, but this stems from not only a cooking perspective but also a drinking perspective. Try an Irish Coffee made with vanilla infused Irish Whiskey (Jameson's is my personal favorite) in the morning and you will see what I mean. Time is the only factor you have to deal with. As more time passes with the vanilla in the spirit the more vanilla flavor will be extracted. The beans as well are still useful, please do not discard them. Try a Bourbon bread pudding using the vanilla beans that you stored in bourbon for the last eight weeks and the flavor will blow your mind. The second thing you need to consider is what type of bean you use. Madagascars are the best known, but what about the robust and oily Mexican and the spicier Tahitian. Each bean has its own flavor profile and these flavors need to be considered before we just dunk them into some liquor and wait for a good result. Finally, if you are looking for great vanilla beans, or any other vanilla product for that matter, check out www.arizonavanilla.com. They have great products at excellent prices and their customer service is amazing.

  8. The taste difference to me is amazing and I would certainly recommend using the pork fat over the chicken fat. Think of it like your grand mother cooking fried chicken. Most did not use chicken fat they used lard or a variation of it.

    The second thing to consider is the density of the two fats. In all fairness duck fat would be even better than the first two choices but it is to fragile to be used in sausage, meaning it would not help hold the meats together. That would be my main concern if using chicken fat where as pork fat is typically quite dense and of course full of flavor.

  9. For all of the breads that I bake I use an equal mix of KA all purpose and KA bread flour. The results are amazing and all consistent. To me it is as close as you can get to the wonderful European flours that I learned to bake with.

    I know our pastry department and the bakers have switched to King Aurther and they are buying it in bulk. I will post the source if I can find it.

  10. I have used the feet of both chickens feet and pigs trotters in stock. I can not say that the flavor is outstandingly better (though the trotters did seem to make the stock richer) the gelatine of the two is well worth the addition especially if the stock is to be used for a sauce. The addition of the chicken feet or pig trotters will allow you to create a sauce consistency with less reduction thus a higher yield and lower cost for your sauce.

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