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KennethT

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Posts posted by KennethT

  1. Thanks for all the great replies - I really appreciate it! Whenever we've had crawfish in NO, I've never noticed any seasoning on the outside... but always a great spicy boil - you get the most flavor when sucking the juices out of the head. I've used the outside seasoning for the last few boils that I've done, just because the crawfish company recommended doing so - but I've never been thrilled with it...

    Sorry I didn't mention it before - but the crawfish boil is being done in my small NYC apartment - so we'll bring in about 15-20 pounds of crawfish that I'll cook in shifts on the stovetop in my 16Quart stockpot.

    I'm not planning on doing it yet (I know that it's still too early) but we were probably going to do it around mid Feb. for Mardi Gras - we may wait until the last weekend or so in Feb just in case - but hopefully they'll be at least decent size by then.

    I'm confused - what's with the purging? Is that the same as the 15-20 min. soak after the initial boiling? Do people have 2 pots going - one for boiling and one for soaking?

  2. I know it's a bit early to start talking about a crawfish boil, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately, so I figured this would be a good way to pass the time waiting for the bugs to grow a bit bigger....

    As a NO non-native in NY (whose wife grew up in NO - but was vegetarian during most of her time there (can youbelieve it!?!)) I have no choice but to bring in the crawfish by FEDEX every once in a while to get my fix to tide me over between our annual trips back down there... so, being that the shipping is usually more expensive than the critters, I'd like to make the most out of them...

    I learned the technique I've been using from the instructions that come with the crawfish: boil crawfish for 2-3 minutes; turn off heat and let soak for 15-20 minutes; put into styrofoam cooler dusted with creole seasoning and steam for 10-15 minutes... My boil is powdered boil plus extra garlic and lemon halves... although this year, I think I'm going to add some liquid boil to the mix...

    At their best, they're pretty good, but they're still not as good as I get when I'm down there, which I'd like to remedy...

    Somebody help, pleeeeeeeeease!!!!

  3. I've done pour-over frying - it works great, but can be kind of dangerous - since the precooked meat sometimes wants to drip juices - it can result in a LOT of splattering and burnt forearms... then again, maybe what I was doing wasn't so smart - I was suspending the meat over the hot pot of peanut oil so whatever dripped off the meat would go back into the oil.. in hindsight, it would probably be better to suspend the meat over a hotel pan or something to catch the fat/drippings... hmmm... a good thought for next time!

    But in any case, it gives great surface browning and very minimal interior cooking...

  4. I would think that bone is definitely an insulator... that's why meat roasted on the bone is always juiciest right by the bone - because it never reach as high of a temperature.

    I do chicken legs/thighs on the bone SV all the time - and it always takes a LOT longer to get that spot right next to the bone to be fully cooked, compared with the rest of the meat.

    Also, just thinking of the makeup of bone - basically a hard mesh of calcium with lots of air spaces - makes me think it's a good insulator.

    I guess the only way to really tell is to put a thermocouple in the middle of the marrow in the bone, and see how long it takes to get to full temp....

  5. SV marrow bone hasn't been much discussed, so I've been experimenting.

    First, as a control, I tried the conventional methods of roasting and boiling. Roasting in a hot oven (450F/230C) for 15 mins is associated with a marrow-on-toast dish by Fergus Henderson. It yields slightly browned bone (which looks better sitting on a plate than a beige bone) and very soft marrow, suitable for slathering on toast. But: so much of the delicious fat melts away to waste! Boiling in soup or stew is traditional and it too gives a soft marrow, yet the fat and juices remain to fortify the pot. Tradition has much going for it.

    Then, I tried two SV ways. One was relatively hot and quick (175F/80C for 1 hour), the other was low and slow (135F/57C for 8 hours). Neither rendered much fat, though some juices were given off (much as happens when SVing flesh meat). The hot+quick marrow was quite firm, the low+slow was jelly-like -- better texture for my palate.

    The bottom line: SV marrow is an alternative to conventional methods, but it is not as clearly superior as SV-cooked flesh is to conventionally-cooked flesh.

    Thanks Martin! Very interesting! I wonder if a few more experiments are in order.... maybe 175F for 2, 3, 4 hours, etc to see the effect of more time... Bone is a pretty lousy heat conductor, so I wonder if the heat transfered through in only 1 hour. Also, a quick torching to the outside of the bone is a good solution to the beige coloring...

  6. I use a bernz-o-matic propane with a 3 foot hose-torch... I've had off flavors, but with a little playing around, you learn how to avoid them. The hose torch is great becasue you can hold it upside down and the flame never goes out, no matter how much gas is in the tank - the tank hangs from my belt with the included hook... also, you can really crank up the flame (which comes out in a swirl pattern) - which I've found to be the best way to get rid of the off flavors - but with the flame that high, you can't put it ridiculously close to the meat because it winds up burning the crap out of one spot... I find the best way is to set the torch full open and run it back and forth quickly across the meat - that way you get the most even browning... I got the hose-torch from teh home depot for like $30-40 or something like that...

  7. I love cooking small birds - quail, squab, etc etc... and I find sous vide great for this - but, I've always been disappointed with some, especially squab. My feeling has always been that the squab we get in the US has very little flavor compared to its equivalent in France. I can't tell you how many restaurants I've been in France where the squab has had tons of flavor - then when I get back to the US, it's always relatively flavorless... So the other day, I started doing some research - it seems that the french birds are hung for several days post slaughter as a sort of dry-age, whereas, I gather, the US birds are not... so I first started thinking about dry-aging the squab for a few days in the refrigerator - but I don't know much about that (and it's for a different topic), so I decided to try to enzymatically accelerate it prior to cooking...

    I made 2 squab breasts (from the same bird) - both were seasoned equally, then seared on all sides, then put into 2 different bags. One bag was held at 100F for about an hour (the other in the refrigerator), then the temp of the bath was increased to 132F, and the second squab was added, and both cooked for about 1.5 hours (roughly - I didn't time it exactly) to cook medium-rare and pasteurize.

    The results were conclusive - upon a blind tasting, the accelerated squab breast was noticably more flavorful and slightly more tender! I will definitely do this again - but next time "age" it for 2-3 hours to see what happens...

  8. I've been successfully growing a dwarf Bearss seedless lime tree in my NYC apartment for a few years... here are a few things I've learned... First - citrus HATE wet feet... they need really good drainage and like their roots to be kept on the dry side of moist... so that usually means for us indoor container growers is that we have to get a moisture meter ($10 at the home depot) which you stick in the soil down to the root level to measure moisture... you'll probably wind up watering about once a week with 1/4 to 1/2 gallon of water... Second - citrus are heavy nitrogen feeders - so they need a fertilizer with a formula of at least 2:1:1... I used the Miracid soil acidifier every time I watered... Also, most potting soils have peat or something else to retain water, so it's usually recommended to add a bunch of cedar or redwood shavings to the soil to lighten it up and increase the airflow. I don't know if this is a problem with Kaffir lime trees, but my Bearss would constantly get pest problems, like scales, which are easily treatable with a spray of horticultural oil mixed in water... then respray in 10 days to get the eggs which have hatched... finally, especially in winter, it's good to mist the tree once or twice a day with water to increase the humidity - or get a humidifier...

    With all that said, I STILL ran into problems every once in a while... I'd get wet spots in my dirt which would wind up killing the roots in the area... so I've switched my tree to a flood/drain hydroponic system and the tree is LOVING it!!! The roots sit in a mesh pot filled with "hydroton" which are expanded clay pellets, and a nutrient liquid is flooded into the pot every 2.5 hours or so... most hydroponics flood every half hour, but the citrus likes to dry out a bit in between waterings, and with a bit of tinkering, I've found that every 2.5 hours works pretty well... I may try to go every 3 hours, but haven't done it yet... they usually say to let it dry about an inch or so below the surface before reflooding. Now my roots are doing great (and are easily inspectable), and I have a lot less pest problems than before...

  9. Back on March 11 KennethT asked whether anyone has done just a marrow bone and if so, what temp/time? But there were no responses then. Anyone have any experiences with sous vide marrow bone?

    I think back at the time, I wound up doing it at 176F for about an hour... worked ok - the marrow came out in one piece and was nice and soft - but I think too much of the fat may have rendered out... I'd be curious to try it again a little differently...

  10. Curry paste lasts a long time in the refrig. - maybe 6 months... I've had some in there for even longer, but my fridge is really cold (on the cusp of freezing) - but it does lose something after several months...

    You can definitely freeze it with no real loss of quality... typically, I use it in incrememnts of tablespoons - so you can scoop a bunch of tablespoons onto a sheet pan with wax paper and freeze... then, once frozen, put the frozen tablespoons in a zip lock bag...

  11. I remember when I was emailing back and forth with the rep from Ajinomoto about Activa, he mentioned that salt will increase the proteins available for binding.. I wonder if that has anything to do with this? With more available proteins, I wonder if the glutaminases already present in the meat start to bind after a while? Then again, it's no problem if you grind with salt just prior to cooking - there will be no time for any enzyme activity... but if you were to grind, then hold for a day or two, who knows.... mmmmm hamburger sausage......

  12. I love doing pork tenderloin... but I cook my pork to 137F, which is a bit pink, and really moist and juicy... I also usually leave it in for about an hour or so... I don't really time it - I just make sure it's more than the calculated time should be... I don't brine either, but rub with a bit of s/p and some cumin... then in the bag with a couple of tablespoons of chipotle in adobo puree... At the end, I'll take the bag out of the water, slather the sauce from the bag all over the pork, then hit it with the torch... then a little more slathering, then more torch until I get a nice crust...

  13. I assume the shelf life of the Non-Extra-Fat SV confit would be the same as the standard SV confit since the bag is keeping the air-less environment, rather than the fat... I actually just had some confit that I made a year ago - and I'm still here!

    I wonder if the NEF SV confit would have the similar "huskiness" that the normal confit gets after aging for a few weeks (more as time goes on)? I'd assume it would, as the confit would be sitting in its own fat that was rendered during cooking, but again - who knows if this fat even contributes to that huskiness?

  14. I've had no problems seasoning a piece of meat, vacuuming then freezing and storing for months on end... I do this all the time with flank steak - 1 flank steak gives me 4 portions... I portion, jaccard, season then bag/seal and freeze... then I just throw straight into the bath when I'm ready to cook...

    If you go straight to the bath from the freezer, rather than room temp or fridge temp, what adjustments do you make to the cooking time to account for this?

    I really don't worry about the time difference for the flank steak because I'm cooking it for 36 hours... so an extra half hour or so wouldn't make a difference... but, if you're cooking something for less time, I'd use Douglas Baldwin's pages - he has two charts comparing time to reach temp. from 41F and from 0F... http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html - about a quarter down from the top are Tables 2.3 and 2.4... In general, it really depends on thickness - for instance, the difference in time for 10mm thick is 2 minutes, but for 25mm it's 12 minutes, and 50mm it's 46 minutes.

  15. My friend uses the thermomix all the time for cooking (as opposed to baking) - all kinds of mashed root vegetables, soups, sauces, baby food...

    He's got a problem now, though... he just got an error code 39 and doesn't know how to fix it... any ideas??

  16. One time, my wife and I were headed to PDH on Mott... when we got there, the line was so long, and that was for people with reservations! So we walked around the corner and into a place with decent looking ducks hanging in the window... the place was filled with Chinese people (always a good sign).. you can get a whole duck for $30-40 - I forget which, but somewhere around there... when you get a whole duck, they serve the breast meat and skin with steamed buns and house made hoisin sauce, then there's a second course consisting of the rest of the duck picked off the carcass and served with a stir-fry with vegetables. It's a very bare bones place - but the duck has been excellent the few times I've been there (probably 4 times over the last year and a half). Plus, quite a bargain compared to PDH. The place is called Hsin Wong - it's on the corner of Mott and Bayard - it has the yellow sign and has the ducks and char siu hanging in the window.

  17. First - I'd like to say that I am very excited to hear plans to have an "El Bulli"esque restaurant in NYC. I've been wishing for this for a long time!

    With that said, I think the reason this type of restaurant hasn't been done in NY yet is because it would be too difficult to not lose your shirt without having to charge a fortune. NY is a very odd market - I've lived here all my life and associate with many different types of people who go to these types of restaurants - all for different reasons.

    I think the biggest problem in NYC restaurants is real estate prices - I'm sure your rent in midtown is going to be huge. If you're not planning on turning tables and will be seating in the European style, I think your prices should be dictated by how much the real estate costs (plus all the other overhead) divided by the number of seats. Alain Ducasse did something similar to this at ADNY. Per Se is slightly different - while they're not turning tables, it's not explicit that the table is yours for the evening - it's very possible that they could have someone in a table at 6:00, and then another party at 9 or 9:30.

    Also, I find that most diners in NYC don't like the idea of spending an entire evening at the table in a restaurant. Don't get me wrong, this is something that I personally love, and travel to Europe for a few times a year... but most people in NY get antsy after 2 - 2.5 hours... While I'm sure there are plenty of people like me who'd love the experience you are presenting, I know a lot more who would be looking to leave halfway through.

    Finally, as I'm sure you're aware, I think most NYC restaurants menu prices are too low, and are being subsidized by the wine sales. This is especially evident in a place like Daniel where you can see some bottles priced at 4-5x retail prices. To me, it borders on criminal extortion that a restaurant would sell a $30 bottle of Cote Chalonnaise for $150... or a $65 Chateauneuf du Pape for $260.... and that's not even talking about the markups on Grand Cru type stuff...

  18. This Thanksgiving, I'm going to cut up all the leg meat into relatively uniform chunks (removing all the extra sinew, etc.), mix it with some herbs and a few nuts, then bind it back together into a rectangular brick with Activa. I'll cook this at around 70C for many hours and then slice it into cubes for service (possibly browning it in butter). If I can, I'll bind the turkey skin on to the outside of the brick. I'll serve that with a slender breast meat roulade I've filled with a black truffle-and-turkey mousse and cooked to 61C.

    That sounds really interesting - do you have experience binding skin to meat? I've done it with duck breast where I've removed the skin, shaved off most of the fat and then glued it back on... Fat and skin don't have much available proteins to bind... so the rep at Ajinomoto recommended using the GS in a slurry rather than the RM for that application... hope it goes well...

  19. Joesan - interesting - I do something similar, but have always found it a pain to portion the stock when it's cold and gelled - it's a semi-firm gel when it's cold... so I typically scrape the fat off the top when it's cold, then reheat slightly just so that it's liquid, then portion, re-chill and freeze...

  20. I do put a lot of stuff into a cheesecloth bag to keep it together.

    hmmm... the biggest problem I have in retaining clarity is getting the liquid out once I get down to the level of the bones in the pot. My first several ladels of stock removed off the top of the pot are perfectly clear - like consomme.. when I have to start tipping the pot and/or slightly moving spent bones or removing spent bones, the liquid always gets a little cloudy from stuff that comes off the bones and mixes with the liquid... maybe this stuff would settle out in a little time, but I haven't tried that... but with regards to the quote above, I wonder if I put everything in a big cheesecloth bag, then when finished, just lift out the bag, let the liquid drain out (no squeezing) and the remains should be untainted...

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