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Everything posted by Keith_W

  1. Sous Vide Duck Confit

    Hi Nick, re: refrigerator temperatures I can't seem to find my reference right now. I thought I read it in MC or McGee, but a quick flick through McGee didn't show it up. In any case, if you put hot food in the fridge, it does not warm up the rest of the fridge any more than opening the door would. The thermostat on your refrigerator regulates the temperature and takes care of that. Re: bacterial growth I defer to your source. Thank you for pointing that out.
  2. Sous Vide Duck Confit

    Hm, I am not particularly convinced by either argument. The latter argument (re: fridge temperatures) has been debunked. As for rapid chilling for food safety, I think you will find that the risk is minimal if almost nonexistent if you chill in an ice bath as opposed to simply moving the bags from the SV machine directly into the fridge.
  3. Not my method. I read about it in Modernist Cuisine. There is a video on how to do it on Youtube: Trust me, this is much superior to dunking the whole turkey in brine. The downside is that you need to purchase a brining syringe. Or, if you have access to medical equipment like me, you can simply repurpose a 50mL syringe and an 18G needle
  4. Sous Vide Duck Confit

    Why do you need to rapid chill it in an ice bath?
  5. I used to brine my birds, but I don't do it any more. I have a much better method - injection brining! You load up your brine into a syringe, then inject it into the bird. A traditional brine is about 6-10% (depending on whose recipe you read) with a prolonged soak between 12-36 hours, depending on the size of the bird. As you can guess, brines work slowly and take their time to penetrate the meat. If you use a very hypertonic brine, the brine will work faster but might leave you with a "salinity gradient" where the meat closest to the surface is more salty than meat further in. An injection brine takes care of that. The advantage is not only more even brining, but also predictability and speed. The other main advantage is that the skin is not brined. Brined skin holds on to salt and water, which stops it from crisping up. This allows you to rub salt directly onto the skin to help it dry up and crisp nicely. My typical recipe for an injection brine is: inject 20% of the weight of the bird in brine (sounds like a lot, but a third of this will leak out). The brine should be 4% (i.e. 4gm of salt for every 100gm liquid). So if you have a 3kg bird, you will need to prepare 600mg of brine. That is, 24mg of salt into 600mg of water. You don't have to use water either, you could use stock or milk. Milk has the advantage of containing phosphates which help tenderize the meat even more. BTW these days, I usually cut the legs off and roast the bird on the crown with no stuffing. I also use low heat (80C) until the breast reaches 62C. I then rest it for an hour, then return it it to the oven at very high heat to crisp up the skin.
  6. I don't understand - why should the corneas be extracted?
  7. Dinner! 2013 (Part 4)

    Sounds like you forgot to burp your egg! You said that you closed both top and bottom vents. What happens under conditions of air starvation, a lot of unburnt fuel is hanging around in superheated vaporized form. When you suddenly supply ample O2 by lifting the lid, a huge fireball results. As a precaution, you should ALWAYS lift the lid of your egg slightly before opening it fully. Alternatively, open the top and bottom vents slightly. The fireball thing happened to me once. The singed hairs on my forearm taught me never to do that again!
  8. Gardening: 2013–2015

    Chris, I would say that herbs and tomatoes are your best bet. Tomatoes, because home grown tomatoes ripened on the vine in full sun are incredible, compared to the watered down rubbish you buy in the shops. Make sure you plant them where they get plenty of sunlight and water them every day. On very hot days, water them twice a day. Also make sure you support them on a trellis or similar. Last year I grew black russians, but by far the tastiest tomato were baby roma tomatoes. Don't plant green heirloom tomatoes - it is hard to tell when they are ripe. You have to squeeze them every day when they reach the "right" size to determine ripeness. Annoying. I have never tasted home grown strawberries which are as good as the ones in the shops when they are in season. Usually home grown strawberries tend to be really small and tart - I don't know why. You might want to consider some greens as well - lettuce and other brassicas grow really easily.
  9. Dinner! 2013 (Part 4)

    Beautiful meal. BTW I have been hunting high and low for a recipe for home-made plum sauce. Would your friend be kind enough to share it?
  10. Dead Chicken

    As Annabelle said, the answer is yes. But for fish, the story is slightly different. Land animals hang muscles off their bones against gravity. The muscles reinforced by, and tethered to the bone with strong connective tissue. Fish have their muscles and bones supported by the sea. They are neutrally buoyant (well most of them are), so they have comparatively little connective tissue. This is why fish is naturally tender. Unfortunately, when fish go into rigor mortis, the weak tethering of muscle to bone, along with the generally poorer reinforcement of muscle, means that the muscle is more likely to tear itself off the bone or damage itself. This is why Japanese practice ike-jime, or the rapid killing of fish. First the fish is spiked through the brain, then incisions are made behind the head and the tail. This severs the main artery, promoting rapid bleeding. It also exposes the spinal cord. A metal spike is passed down the spinal cord, destroying it. The fish is then bled out in an ice slurry and rapidly cooled. This delays the onset of rigor mortis. The result, or so I am told, is fish with a superior texture. I have never done a back to back test of fish killed by ike-jime or fish that has been left to asphyxiate or dispatched by chopping the head off, so I don't know
  11. Dead Chicken

    With any meat, you want to cook it either before, or after rigor mortis. A quick physiology lesson - muscle contraction is caused by the release of intracellular calcium, which is kept in the sarcoplasmic reticulum by means of an energy consuming Calcium pump. When circulation stops, the Calcium gradient can no longer be maintained so it floods out and causes generalized muscle contraction. In addition, the actin and myosin molecules (the components of muscle fibre) fuse together to form an actomyosin complex - this is rigor mortis. A number of factors can affect how early and how long rigor stays for - for example, if the animal is stressed prior to death, its energy reserves are depleted, lactic acid builds up, and rigor mortis occurs earlier and more violently. Over time, release of natural enzymes hydrolize the actomyosin complex, causing the muscle to relax. How soon this happens depends on a number of factors, including ambient temperature, size of animal, etc. Usually around 36 hours or so. If you attempt to cook a chicken in rigor mortis, the muscles will be hard and will expel juices the moment you cut into it. There is therefore a window in which you should not cook a slaughtered bird. Either cook it early, prior to rigor, or late, after rigor has passed. If you leave the bird for even longer, and provided the meat is not degraded by bacterial action or fermentation, the enzymes that break down muscle will continue to work. Breaking down a long chain protein into shorter chains produces new flavour molecules. Whether or not you find this flavour desirable depends on you. Traditionally, pheasants were hung for a few weeks to develop gamey flavour. Beef is dry aged for a few months to promote beefiness. I have never tasted an aged chicken, and I am not sure I would want to.
  12. Dinner! 2013 (Part 4)

    No. it depends on what they eat. That is true for salmon, but not for tuna. Salmon pink comes from carotenoids, which in turn come from eating krill. Tuna pigmentation is from myoglobin. For those who don't know, myoglobin is the muscle equivalent of haemoglobin. It consists of four protein moeities surrounding a central haem moiety, which contains iron in its Ferric state - hence the red colour. The amount of myoglobin deposition in muscle is governed by genetic and environmental factors - principally how much aerobic exercise the muscle is subjected to. I suppose an extremely iron deficient tuna might turn out pink, but it would probably be dead first.
  13. The Food Photography Topic

    Amazing shots, dcarch!!! More detail? He needs to figure out a way to duct tape a microscope to his phone cam
  14. I am really impressed by the quality of fish you can buy over there. Despite being surrounded by ocean, much of our fish is frozen and sold filleted to hide the fact that they may not be that fresh.
  15. Dinner! 2013 (Part 4)

    Tuna belongs to a genus, meaning that the different types of tuna are related but may not interbreed successfully. The common names of some tuna species include albacore, skipjack, bluefin, blackfin, yellowfin, etc. Depending where the tuna was caught and which species are fished, the amount of myoglobin in the muscle may vary. This is why the colour of the flesh varies from pink to red.
  16. Deep frying super thin chicken?

    Well, I think that eG has found your solution! Deep fry cold frozen chicken in a batter made with a bit of sugar (maybe brown sugar) in it.
  17. Deep frying super thin chicken?

    If you want a golden coloured crust, try adding some sugar or honey into your batter.
  18. Dinner! 2013 (Part 4)

    cookalong, incredibly fine pommes puree there. Your arms must be pretty tired after pushing all that through a sieve
  19. Back when I was in university we did experiments with dissected frogs legs. One of them was to investigate the effects of several variables on muscle contractility (i.e. the force with which muscles contract). The demonstrator showed us the effect of bathing the legs in a weak NaCl solution before subjecting it to a mild electric current. It actually worked! He then simply sprinkled the legs with salt, and we saw the same effect.
  20. Help on making steak

    I will check MC when I get home, but in the meantime if you could post a reference to it that would be helpful. Otherwise, no biggie - I can look it up the index. dcarch, i'm not sure what you mean by "Porterhouse" because here in Australia "Porterhouse" refers to the T-bone with fillet attached. To add to the confusion, other Aussie butchers refer to the non-fillet portion of the T-bone as "Porterhouse". In any case, I believe that T-bone steaks should not be cooked on a pan, because as the meat contracts from the bone, it is lifted off the pan - uneven browning is the result. If I have a T-bone steak, I cook it over charcoal. The concept is otherwise the same - IMO thinner steaks give you more flavour
  21. Help on making steak

    sigma, what dcarch said sounds counterintuitive but he's correct.
  22. Help on making steak

    Dcarch gave you the right advice - cook steaks to temperature and not by any other guide. Temperature is really the only reliable tool. This is what I use: 50C = rare 55C = medium rare 60C = medium 65C = well done Lately I have been experimenting with thinner cuts of steak. Going by the theory that most of the flavour is on the surface, a thinner steak gives you greater surface area to volume. The downside with thin steaks is that they are easy to overcook. I therefore cook my steaks in two stages - they are sous-vided to 55C, then rested and dried, then brushed with oil and finished over charcoal. My kamado, when loaded with charcoal, gets so hot that the steaks are perfectly seared within a minute on each side. Here is a thin cut steak cooked the way I described:
  23. The Food Photography Topic

    Thank you for the correction! Meredith, that's your answer. If you want to upload photos to eG from your iPad, use Tapatalk.
  24. The Food Photography Topic

    That's more your iPhone/iPad's fault than eGullet's. Apple, in their infinite wisdom, has denied you access to the file system. So you can only share photos with certain apps, and I am pretty certain that Safari and Tapatalk aren't on the list.
  25. It's more than the Maillard reaction, there is also the Liedenfrost effect. A superheated surface instantly vaporizes any liquid that comes into contact with it, causing food to float on a bed of steam. This, combined with the typical stirring and tossing of wok cooking tends to selectively cook the surface of foods. Just because many Chinese home cooks don't have a high powered wok burner does not mean that the passionate cook should not bother. I don't think that people on eGullet are average cooks - this forum is the birthplace of Modernist Cuisine, we witnessed the birth of Alinea, and I am willing to wager that more of us own sous-vide machines than the general population. A high powered wok burner will give you different results than most piddly little stovetop hobs and in most cases it would be better. Why else do restaurants use it?