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Vicious Wadd

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Posts posted by Vicious Wadd

  1. Any difference in taste or texture?

    BTW, thanks again for the emails regarding my rolled leg of lamb experiment. It came out great. I'll post pics sometime soon.

    Currently, I have a "deconstructed osso buco" cooking in a 135 degree water bath. It will be consumed at the 26-27 hour mark this evening.


    - VW

  2. I love watermelon, and this time of year I seem to always have one in my fridge.  The rind always goes in the trash and although I've had pickled watermelon rind, and have prepared it myself a couple of times, it seems as though the only way it's prepared is super sweet and sticky.  Don't get me wrong, it's good, but I see more potential for this often discarded part.  I could see it being prepared as a mostarda or as part of a braise.  

    Have any of you had watermelon rind in restaurants or have you prepared it in ways different from the usual sweet pickle?

    One of the most horrific food memories from my youth was eating my Aunt Florences' pickled watermelon rind. Second only to eating another one of her conconctions, called "pickled chow chow."

    Likely not the response you were looking for, but airing that dirty laundry with my fellow eGulleters felt pretty cathartic. :wink:

  3. I work near, and have only eaten at, what I believe to be the original Five Guys located in Arlington, Virginia. Perhaps it's because it was the original, I can honestly say that every burger and every order of fries I've ever had has been delicious. The burgers there at least are not grey in any way but hot and juicy and the fries are always served crisp and hot with just the right amount of salt with malt vinegar available as well. Their sodas are just regular fountain sodas you can get anywhere, nothing special. They can be a bit pricey but to compare their burgers with McDonalds is just plain crazy, I mean you get what you pay for.

    My only criticisms are what they don't have considering that they are a burger joint:

    - No onion rings

    - No milk shakes or ice cream floats

    - They sell hot dogs but don't offer chili as a topping

    - They need to scale down their "small" order of fries which is a pretty huge serving for one person IMHO

    Maybe they did expand too quickly, but the original Arlington location still seems to be going strong.

    Curse you Vicious Wadd I'm having a serious craving for Five Guys right now! I wonder why? :laugh:  :hmmm:

    If that original Arlington location is in the Clarendon / Courthouse area, then that's right up the road from where I work (Ballston), so I'll have to give that one a try. Usually not the kind of lunch I would want during the work week though (burp) :blink:

    Just as a personal anecdote, my wife's office is in the general vicinity and two of her employer's recent Italian interns became total Five Guys junkies while they lived here. She said they ate there several days per week.

    I can picture them returning to the old world with 10 pounds of lard around their waist from all that American fast food.

  4. Thanks for the replies, folks. It was interesting to note how varied the experiences were. Just to throw my own into the mix, as I mentioned, my single point of reference being the Woodstock location, it was:

    - Clean and well staffed

    - The fries were fresh cut (the bags of potatoes actually lined the walls)

    - The burgers were grilled to order. They were not greasy.

    - As well, the fries were crisp, not greasy.

    It was several orders of magnitude better than BK, McDonalds, Wendy's and the like.

    I would gladly pay the extra premium to duplicate that experience, but it appears quality varies widely from location to location.

  5. For those of you in the DC Metro area, the burger joint Five Guys has something of a cult following. I have dined at only one location in the chain, the Five Guys in Woodstock, VA, just off I-81. Now the point of my story...

    I just visited my in-laws a couple weeks ago and the topic of Five Guys came up. My mother-in-law said she tried the one near Potomac, MD (recently opened, I believe) and said the food was terrible. It wasn't even cooked to order, just kept under a heat lamp she said. I was a bit surprised, having really liked the burgers from the Woodstock location. So I urged her to stop by the one there for a second chance. (It's on the way to a cabin they have in WV, in case you're wondering why anyone would undertake such a trip for a burger).

    Fast forward to the next day: my wife and I are heading back from said cabin and we're on 81 North around lunch time -- so we decide to stop by the Five Guys in Woodstock... It's gone. Shuttered up. A big banner is draped across the front window announcing a soon-to-open Mexican Restaurant.

    We head across the street to a local shopping mall looking for an alternative. I stop in an Italian pizza/sub/pasta joint and order some take out; then head back outside to check on the wife, who's outside with the dog.

    The misses is already knee deep in conversation with two women on lunchbreak from Walmart (dogs are great conversation starters). What they said really surprised me: "I knew they wouldn't last! You can't charge $5 for a hamburger when you can get one at McDonald's for $1.00!" People don't have that kind of money here! Not in this economy!"

    I go back inside the Italian joint to get the food. The owner walks up, says it'll be a couple more minutes. So I say: "I see Five Guys closed." He gets this smirk on his face, and in a very heavy Italian accent (guess the place is authentic!) he says: "Who gonna pay fi' dollars for a hamburger? I mean, dey cook on grill like dat (motions to stainless grill behind him)... if they cook on a-coal, ok... I could see... maybe... you a-charge more, but dey cook on same grill I a-charge hamburger for two dolla'! People wan' hamburger, dey come here. Get same a-ting. Dis isn''t Northern Virginia! People here na' gonna pay fi' dolla' for hamburger when you can getta for two dolla'!"

    Between Woodstock and Potomac, a couple bad patterns seem to emerge: (1) a worsening economy resulting in the failure of a location with good quality control; and (2) a new location with poor quality control serving bad burgers.

    Did Five Guys expand too fast?

  6. I had posted this in the eGCI forum "Q&A: All About Eggs" back in March and never got a response, so I'm moving it here:

    I have lately become adept at poaching eggs and do so for my wife most mornings before she leaves for work. But (ed: a March issue of the) Washington Post food section printed a blurb that confused me and countered my own intuition on the technique. It read:

    "Another tip is to use eggs right out of the refrigerator; a chilled white will be thicker and less likely to 'feather' or become stringy when it hits the water."

    To the contrary, I have been using either room-temperature eggs or even soaking them in water as hot as my tap will produce for at least 10 minutes before poaching, using the logic that they will set faster by beginning closer to the setting temperature when they hit the simmering poaching water. I have had good results this way. How do you explain the Post's logic?

    Also, if you're adding cold eggs, won't it lower the temperature of the liquid and both slow down cooking and encourage "feathering?"

    I would add that water depth may also mitigate feathering. I recall a post from Fat Guy some time ago on Tavern on the Green (??? -- my memory's a bit sketchy) on their brunch service and noted that the eggs they poached for Benedict were added to a reasoably deep pot of water. As the egg descended, it essentially caused the white to pouch vertically as it coagulated -- thus yielding nice, tightly formed poached eggs. Any tails were snipped with scissors.

  7. Last night it was short ribs cooked sous vide for 25 hours at 151F.  They were seasoned with Chinese five-spice.  I brushed them with a hoisin sauce-spiked BBQ sauce which I glazed under the broiler.

    Sides included a sweet potato puree (pictured underneath) and braised baby bok choy.


    How did you like the texture of the short ribs compared to traditional braising? I find the ones I prepare CSV are firmer and while tender, not quite as "fork tender".

    In answer to your question, they definitely had more integrity than some of the fall-apart ones I have cooked in a traditional braise. The recipe was based loosely on Daniel Boulud's 30 hour short rib recipe. While mine were tender and tasty, I could see how the extra five hours would have been beneficial.

  8. Last night it was short ribs cooked sous vide for 25 hours at 151F. They were seasoned with Chinese five-spice. I brushed them with a hoisin sauce-spiked BBQ sauce which I glazed under the broiler.

    Sides included a sweet potato puree (pictured underneath) and braised baby bok choy.


  9. Thank Ruth. I ate them last night and I would say, next time, I will back off a bit on the five spice. As to tenderness, what you predicted turned out to be true. They were very good and tender, but not quite as fork-tender as I would have liked. That said, of the sous vide meats I have cooked so far, this has to be my favorite and I will definitely be experimenting with short ribs in the future.

    Best Regards,

    - VW

  10. Question about short ribs:

    As I type this, some short ribs are bathing at 151F. I'm loosely basing the temperature and cooking time on Daniel's 30 hour short ribs. Two questions:

    (1) Dinner time will be at approx. the 25 hour mark. Will the difference of 5 hours make or break this dish?

    (2) Anyone use Chinese Five Spice in SV preparations? I've read that some seasonings can get overpowering with prolonged cooking times. I hope this isn't one of them. :huh:


    - VW

  11. A few people mentioned puttanesca. Take that same concept and apply the underlying ingredients -- including capers -- to other dishes: e.g. over grilled chicken, in stews, etc. One great dish I copied from Red Eye in NYC is a tagine-baked sea bass with olives, roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, and yes, capers. It's fantastic.

    Another great match with capers is smoked salmon. Fan out the salmon on a platter, scatter the capers on top and add a squeeze of lemon. Those piquant little bursts help punch through the richness of the salmon.

    Lastly, to reduce the briny/salty taste, many recipes will call for a little rinse under cold water. I tend to do this most of the time I use capers, especially if there are other salty ingredients in the dish.

  12. Mike: 

    That looks excellent.  I'm tempted to mimic this for doves when the season opens.

    Thanks, VW,

    Do you hunt doves? How are they different from squabs? ( I never had one)

    Yes; I do hunt doves. The game bird species is the migratory mourning dove. I believe pigeons (squab) are bred commercially for their meat, so it's a different animal altogether (pun intended).

    Even full grown doves are pretty small, so small, I only eat the breast. In that respect, the meat resembles the two lobes pictured in your post. Like squab, it's also a dark meat, and cooks up to a redish brown.

    As far as how they compare taste-wise, it's been awhile since I had squab; but I tend to prefer doves. I'd say they are somewhat comparable in texture, but IMHO doves are bit more gamey and firm-fleshed. I remember the few squab experiences I have had invariably have a "bloody" taste, for lack of a better term.

    Once difference in the taste between the two could be attributable to the fact all the doves I've had have been wild birds; and therefore lean and gamey. That's why sous vide would work well, because they can be very easily overcooked.


    - VW

  13. First, thanks to everyone for the help on this board. Over the past three weeks I acquired a tabletop roaster, a PID from Frank at Sous Vide Magic and a FoodSaver sealer. This weekend, I had a chance to play with the new rig and wanted to share the results with everyone.

    After acquiring some buffalo tenderloin at my local farmers market, I seasoned the meat with Herbes de Provence, some truffle salt, black pepper and truffle butter.


    Into the vacuum bags they went:


    I cooked them for approx. 6.5 hours at 140. After a quick sear, they turned out like this:


    Here's a shot showing interior doneness:


    The meat was very succulent, but I would have liked it more rare. As I am a SV neophyte, I was quite fixated on the so-called "safety zone" minimum of 140. Was I being overly cautious? Where could I have dropped the temp to and for how long would it have been safe?

    BTW, it appears I blew a seal (no hackneyed penguin jokes please), as one bag puffed up compared to the other and was no longer tightly wrapped against the meat. It does not appear I had any infiltration of water, however.

    Any feedback and tips are greatly appreciated.


    - VD

  14. There are lots of interesting things you can do with sv equipment that is not exactly sv cooking.  For many of these things, you really do need a more powerful vacuum.  I set forth some of these things above, but for example, you can compress fruits and vegetables to change the texture or you can "pressure wilt" raw vegetables to approximate some of the structural changes of cooking without actually cooking the food.  In terms of reduced pressure, you can put a food into a rigid container together with a liquid, reduce pressure (sucking all the air of of the food item) then release pressure, whereupon the food will "suck" up the liquid into the spaces previously occupied by air (this works best for things like cucumber or watermelon).

    Does the FoodSaver pull enough Hg to compress fruit? Based on my limited experience with watermelon this past weekend, I suspect it does not. Anyone else have any luck? Maybe I'm just doing something wrong.

  15. I'm just jumping into this forum, so bear with me...

    Has anyone tried cooking in plastic within a Foodsaver bag?

    Case in point, I recently picked up Michel Richard's "Happy in the Kitchen," and tried the neo-chicken salad recipe last weekend using PVC-free saran in a water bath.

    Use of the wrap was critical to obtaining the log shape. In comparison, the Foodsaver looks like it will only follow the natural, unrolled shape of the chicken breast. So to replicate that recipe using the watertight wrap from the Foodsaver, I thought I could make the chicken logs in the saran first, and then vacuum wrap them prior to cooking.

    Anyone tried something similar in terms of pre-shaping with plastic wrap?


    - VW

  16. I didn't realize until now that The Luther Burger is actually something people tried to replicate in their own homes.  A few years ago, while working for a record company, I heard the story about Luther Vandross falling off the diet wagon and craving a burger.  Having nothing around for bread, he instead used two donuts to cradle the burger.  The colleague who told me this story claimed to have heard Luther admit this during an interview.  I'd like to believe it's true.  :raz:

    No great shock that Paula Deen would pick up on this recipe.

    The Luther burger was mentioned in other threads about this concoction. Should be called the "Lucifer Burger," because I imagine it's hell on your system. BTW, check out the House Seasoning. It looks like a tbsp. of that would blow the top of a sphynomanometer.

  17. 2nd attempt: Kitchen Aid with stainless interior and black front, with upgradeable front panel to match cabinets (for a later project!). 

    You raise a great point... When we had to replace our dishwasher a couple of years before we were able to launch our ambitious kitchen remodel, we selected a model that accepts a custom panel and used a temporary one made out of a piece of plain old mdf that we had spray-painted glossy white at a body shop. Looked great and when we were ready to remodel, we just threw away the mdf and inserted the custom panel.

    To add to that, I think anyone contemplating a kitchen remodel should seriously consider where the kitchen "look" will be 10-15 years from now. Unless you plan to live in your existing house until you die, it's not just a question of getting what you want and/or is trendy, you need to also consider resale value. There has been a HUGE transformation the past few years regarding the role a kitchen plays in the house -- often a central entertaining hub open to other rooms. And second, the Food TV generation has inspired a demand for pro-chef-level appliances that has resulted in designing home kitchens to look like restaurant kitchens -- aka "trophy kitchens."

    Coinicidentally, there is an interesting article in the 2/20/08 edition of the Washington Times that speaks a bit to these issues. They intimate some of these trends may be maturing, particularly with regard to stainless everything in the kitchen. In keeping with the kitchen as living room / family room concept, more and more people want appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, etc. to look like furniture and/or the cabinetry around them.

    As this site is devoted to cooks and foodies, I doubt we have a lot of "trophy kitchen" types here. But I also think we have people who are willing to put good money into a nice kitchen and want to get the most out of their investment as possible. You can spend $50 - $100K on a total kitchen remodel in the blink of an eye. Be careful when canvassing the home mags' for ideas you don't get pulled into the ultra trendy look and all the stainless steel.

    Just $.02 from a guy in the midst of some major house remodeling!

  18. Do people have recommendations on good "entry level" gas ranges, refrigerators, and dishwashers (we need all three)?  I can't afford a $3000 rig, but I could probably swing something in the $1500 range, for example.

    Having gone through a similar quest for appliances about 3 1/2 years ago, here's what I bought:

    Range: Stainless GE Profile dual-fuel range. Gas top, with a 15K btu burner as well as a precise simmer. Continuous burner / heavy duty grates. Electric oven with self clean. I recall I paid around $1,600. So far, has worked without a hitch. My only regret is I bought a 30" when a 36-42"" would have been better.

    Fridge: LG (also stainless). Great fridge. Bottom freezer with swing door. Nice compartments / storage shelves in both fridge and freezer sections. Has pull out bin in freezer. Only complaint is that the manual ice maker is horrible.

    Dishwasher: 1st attempt: Maytag with stainless front. Catastrophic failure after 3 years -- as luck would have it, just outside the warranty period. Too bad, it did a good job cleaning dishes. 2nd attempt: Kitchen Aid with stainless interior and black front, with upgradeable front panel to match cabinets (for a later project!). So far so good, but too early to tell about reliability. On that topic, nearly everything I've owned made by Maytag has had problems.

    Good Luck!

    - VD

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