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paul o' vendange

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Everything posted by paul o' vendange

  1. Such a range of opinions! Regarding Complete Techniques, I can't see what people are talking about re: the quality of the pictures. Granted, I first obtained La Technique when it first came out, what, nearly 30 years ago, so don't have in mind an exact image of the pictures then. But the illustrations in Complete Techniques are eminently clear, teaching photographs. They are black and white, and wouldn't win any Food Art awards, but pedagogically, they are in my view the best of their kind. Regarding Madeleine Kamman, let me state clearly that I do not find her overbearing or dogmatic, as a whole, and she has been a big part of my own education. Speaking for myself, I was referring to statements made throughout the book which declared a "right way" of doing something, and, if this way was not followed, it was stated one was clearly in error. Ed pointed out one example. Another, and forgive the horrible paraphrase, is the statement that no "Chef of any repute in France uses tomato in making a brown veal stock" (my copy is not here at the moment, so someone please check me for accuracy). However you feel about the method (personally, I have worked on my demi glace for years, and her "classic" method of 'golden veal stock'-Sauce Espagnole-demi glace framed everything I used to do; now, I have generally relied on tomato and reduction a la Thomas Keller's ideas), I venture one would be hard pressed to find such a blanket statement holding universal sway in France, much less everywhere else. But this is a very minor quibble of mine with an important, gifted, and tireless teacher and Chef. Madeleine Kamman is owed all the respect in the world. Paul
  2. I would add my agreement to Ed's choices. My mother first bought Chef Pepin's La Technique for me as a kid more desirous of cooking cream puff swans and butchering a lamb saddle than attending 5:00 a.m. swim workouts. It was my bible then, the first of its kind to teach the classics of French technique to the masses, and it has held me in good stead since. Complete Techniques is a great value, now, being the combination of La Methode and La Technique. I have long worn through CIA's book, as well as Madeleine Kamman's book. Of the two, I probably prefer Kamman's book for its look at the history, and chemistry, of cuisine, as well as its milieu of "Frenchness," (its author being French) all my personal interests; though agree with Ed that she tends to annoyingly pronounce dogma from on high from time to time; but behind the tone I discern a master, and a woman who successfully navigated a lifetime in a profession where she likely had to fight tooth and nail for the respect she deserved. Had I not been steeped on La Technique, I would likely have benefited more from the CIA's book, as its breakdown of technique (e.g., butchery of flatfish, etc.) is more fully described and illustrated. If you want pure technique, I don't think you can go wrong with Pepin's Complete Techniques. Exhaust this book, rigorously practice everything in it, and you will have a solid foundation for further study. Peterson's Sauces is indeed a wonderful resource. Paul
  3. If I understand correctly, you are talking about braising in a closed environment with no appreciable concentration of the wine until, possibly, later, when you would concentrate the braising jus. You raise an interesting question. I think two thoughts are at play here. Eliminating concentration of flavor, and the effect of raw alcohol on food, you are left with the chemical reactions of food taking place under lower moisture v. higher moisture conditions - i.e., reduced jus v. non-reduced jus, and the chemical reactions taking place here which may impart different flavor characteristics. The only area I can think of which may be germane here is caramelization, protein-sugar complexation, maillard reaction, whatever you want to call it. All I can think of here is the local temperature differential (the difference in temperature between the braising pan surface, against the heat, v. the temperature throughout the jus) may be more pronounced under a lower moisture condition than a higher moisture condition - in other words, when you reduce the wine, you encourage maillard reaction at the bottom surface of your cooking vessel to a greater extent than when there is a greater moisture content, the latter condition acting, to an extent, like a "temperature relief valve," therefore limiting maillard reaction. I am not sure how strong this effect may be, if my theory even holds water. I think the greater concern here would be the effect of raw alcohol on your food. I learned this most strikingly when doing marinades. I used to marinate meats in raw wine and aromatics, and was never satisfied with the end result, particularly when using red wine. Now, I burn off the alcohol and proceed. Voila, problem solved. In the words of Thomas Keller, raw alcohol "pickles" meat, and cooked marinades are de rigeur in my kitchen. But here, it is only necessary to rid the wine of the alcohol, which I do by bringing to a simmer then flaming away. Reducing would ensure the alcohol is removed. This, and concentration, are what I would guess would be the benefit of reduction before braising. In my own world, my method for lamb shoulder is to marinate them in a cooked marinade of aromatics and white wine, make "ballons" out of the shoulders with herbs de provence and garlic, sear them well, then deglaze the pan with the marinade; but I do not reduce the marinade. To this, I add lamb stock, tomatoes, a ton of parsley and thyme, orange peel, and braise away - "epaules a la sept heures." After, in a hot oven, I glaze the meat with some of the defatted jus; and the balance of the jus I reduce to a syrupy consistency for reglazing at service. But I do not reduce until after the braise. Cheers, Paul
  4. We just remove the outer, obviously papery/loose skin, dribble with oil, then cover with foil and bake to tender; then expose the heads and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. We then pass everything through a food mill, then a tamis, but I would surmise a sieve would work as well. Paul
  5. Starving (literally) student at Trinity Rep Conservatory, 1990. Eating coffee over cereal to stay alive. One fine day, make $10 an hour helping the company move its stage props from floor 1 to floor 2. Discover 6 year old wheel of cheddar cheese. Live on that cheese, almost solely, for close to 2 months. Well, myself and my ex-girlfriend's cat, who eventually tired of the single-course degustation and decided for odds on the street.
  6. I haven't read the article (no longer live in Chicago), but the idea is interesting. Like the birth of all movements and paradigms, it is apparent something wonderful and consequential may be happening which merits attention over time; as a former Chicagoan, I look forward to watching over the coming years. I wish all three chefs the best of great fortunes. Perhaps this is a subject for another thread, and if preferred I could gladly open the topic elsewhere, but all of this has piqued my curiosity. I appreciate the genius of Chefs Achatz, Cantu, Bowles, and indeed their progenitor Chef Adria, and I could never be their equal. But I wonder, to paraphrase Andre Soltner - is there any new food? Or perhaps, in light of the work of these chefs, where clearly there is new food, I ask in all sincerity: What is the purpose of cuisine? What do people dine out for? I should mention I am Chef/Owner of Waterstone, in the Upper Peninsula; I consider my food to be simple, straightforward, but rigorous: I pay attention to sourcing (Hudson Valley Moulard; locally bred and raised Muscovy; Jamison Farms braised shoulder of lamb, berkshire pork, etc.), we manage a running larder of 8-9 meat, game and shellfish stocks and prepare integral sauces derived from them. My philosophy and taste lie where I consider to be the polar opposite of molecular gastronomy and hence the above question. I know in our case, I simply want people to be comforted by the food and dazzled, if they are, by the depth and clarity of flavor therein rather than by any wizardry I might employ. But I make no judgments on employing one's wizardry (i.e., pea emulsion raviolis, evanescent-aroma balloons), and wonder what fellow egulleters' philosophy might be on the topic. All of it interesting. Cheers, Paul
  7. Just a minor quibble here. Years ago, I and my wife were lucky enough to win a trip to England which included, among other things, dinner with Michael Jackson (the beer writer). At the time I worked for Goose Island Beer Company and we shared a long talk. It was his solid opinion that "everything exciting in brewing is happening in the States." I believe that the world offers a tremendous wealth in beer; buy export, by all means, but I do not believe it necessary to buy foreign beers to "know the styles." Brewers here are equally traditional, or are equally rogues, as exist abroad. I would advocate simply drinking all manner of brews, and reading - for example, MJ's "The Beer Hunter" has a wealth of tasting notes which may help point you in helpful directions; many other sites and books exist. Cheers! Paul
  8. paul o' vendange

    Magic Hat - VT

    It has been some time, but if memory serves Magic Hat exclusively uses a Ringwood Yeast strain propounded by Peter Austin (I believe he also set up their brewing system, but I may be wrong). You either love or you hate the characteristics of a Ringwood brew. A Ringwood fermentation tends to result in a heavy diacetyl profile - meaning easily detectable buttery notes. In English ale making, this is considered by many to be an asset, adding richness and depth to a brew. In a good many American craft breweries, including the brewery where I at one time worked (Goose Island Beer Company), the presence of diacetyl (or its precursor - VDKs, vicinal diketones, to be exact) it is considered a bonafide cellar screwup, a poorly finished product. In fact, many breweries run a quality control regimen (the "VDK Test") to ensure no trace of the compound remains in their finished brews. All up to one's taste. Personally, I don't mind a whiff or two (but very minor whiff) of diacetyl in my maltier pale brews; I think it adds a certain richness and complexity, but many simply can't stand it. And I believe this may be, at least in part, one reason for the different opinions voiced on this thread on MH beers. Cheers! Paul
  9. "How would you know if it tastes good (another assumption of mine that desireable=good, but not necessarily unique, better than, different than) to you? You are not going to order it in a restaurant to sample it. Would you have to hunt and eat it to find out? Would it be acceptable to eat a bird that someone else hunted? Or a positive report by a friend or a noted game bird authority or cook? And how would you make a decision as to whether you even wanted to find out what it tastes like?" Good point, Richard, and one which I have no easy answer for. My bias is clearly showing. With all the game out there to eat, hunting the Crane simply smacks to me of "if it's big, kill it - a big ego boost," and perhaps in this suspicion I am utterly wrong. I suppose my answer to you might be to restate my question to those who hunt the bird, without the filter of bias; sincerely: Is it desirable to eat? Paul
  10. "Another ambiguity in your position that perhaps you could clarify: While the Sandhill Crane is certainly not crucial to the survival of anyone in the U.S., not to mention just this discussion, neither, for the most part, are any game birds and animals. Most people hunt them because they they enjoy the experience of the hunt, as well as enjoy eating what they kill. The vast majority of people who hunt could much less expensively go to the grocery store for their meat. I understand that you object to trophy hunting and why, but nonetheless I think I am missing part of your point again. Can you shed any light? ..." Richard, precisely my point: in the absence of the need to hunt to survive, why hunt? You mention two, and I believe you herein restate my position(s): "Most people hunt them because they they enjoy the experience of the hunt, as well as enjoy eating what they kill." I abhore hunting for "the sheer enjoyment of the hunt;" it dishonors the life taken. And unless I enjoy eating the animal, I don't want to hunt it. But I support hunting, in the absence of the need to do it to survive, where I both tap some primal memory, and enjoy, specifically enjoy, the flesh, etc., of the animal I kill. I restate my position: is the Sandhill Crane so desirable to eat? If so, no argument, provided it is not in danger of being hunted out of existence; if not, aren't there other quarry? Paul
  11. Then you wrote, You appear to be taking your first statement back with the second statement. Would not "hunting for food" justify killing a sandhill crane? Why would there need to be something unique about its meat, bones or fat? Or are you applying that standard to duck, goose, quail, dove, squirrel, pig, deer, elk, etc., too? How do you decide? This is a topic of interest to me that people from at least a half dozen different positions can have very strong feelings, so I am trying to go to some lengths to say that I am interested primarily in understanding other's thinking about taking game animals and birds for food. ← Richard, yes - hunting for food would justify killing a sandhill crane, provided it is not an endangered species. As to my statements, I would say the latter statement fulfills the former. Let me clarify: I kill only that which I intend to eat. I can legally kill a host of animals. I do not desire to eat a host of animals ('possum, for instance), therefore I would not kill those same animals, much as I would not choose alligator earlobes at a restaurant, although they may be available. And if I would not consciously seek out the flesh of a sandhill crane because I specifically desire it (the meat, etc.), I am loathe to kill it. Lots of other things I enjoy to eat, my family enjoys eating. More to the point: I thoroughly enjoy the meat, stock, and whatever else I can exploit of venison, certain species of waterfowl, and a good many field birds. Now, perhaps I have made a terrible leap of pre-judgment here, but is the sandhill crane so desirable for its intrinsic culinary qualities as to warrant its death? I don't believe the Crane is crucial to the survival of any one in this discussion, and so I admit it cries somewhat to me of what I abhore among a good many of my hunting confreres - sheer and utter ego, trophy hunting. But I admit I may be shortsighted and if sandhill Crane hunters just can't wait to make that Crane fricasee, then godspeed. Paul
  12. I hunt. My only question here regarding the Crane is --- Why? I vociferously protect the act of hunting for food. I love the earth, I love the woods and I honor and acknowledge the preciousness of the life I take. I vigorously detest the act of hunting for hunting's sake. Unless there is something unique about the sandhill crane's meat, bones or fat I don't know about, I cannot see any justification for taking one down. I can legally shoot a good many things, but think it asinine to do so simply because I can. My humble $.02. Paul
  13. I would prepare a cooked marinade (raw alcohol pickles the meat - cooked, the flavor of the wine is what's left), then season the meat with S&P for an entire day. I would also choose a cut from the shoulder area - more flavor generally. That, a good and lengthy slow sear to develop caramelization and an adequate amount of aromatics, are what I depend on to deepen the flavor. Paul
  14. I was responding to the "breast" end of the thread.... I hope you are o.k. If you are shattering bones, you have missed joints. Find the articulation of the joints, where movement takes place, and cut there - if you have to work too hard you are hitting bone and not connective tissue. Many times you can wiggle the knife back and forth to find the "notch" or depression between limbs, or limbs and the carcass - if you place your thumb at the shoulder notch - between the wing's main limb and the carcass - it is especially evident where the joint lies. Good luck, Paul
  15. paul o' vendange

    Carne Asada

    One of my favorite cuts for this, or any presentation requiring this type of cut, is the cap meat off the export rib (taking the cap meat off, cutting ribeyes and frenching the rib allows us to do ribeyes or cotes de boeuf, with the cap steak reserved for other uses. This strip along the rib is a wonderul, flat piece of meat - and I treat it just like any flank steak. Paul
  16. I've always known of it as a suprême of chicken breast. Paul
  17. Adding more sugar may do nothing without adequate viable yeast in suspension. By adding more sugar tabs to finished beer which has effectively stopped fermentation, you may end up with, well, sweeter beer.
  18. No, Alan, I hadn't thought about a dry rub, but thanks, interesting idea. I think my dilemma comes because the flavor of this meat is so extraordinary that I don't want to mess with it too much at all, save, at least as an experiment for now, for a bit of smoke pickup.
  19. Hi Jim: Thanks. I should have specified I am aware of the food safety issue and bacterial window - in terms of the cold smoke plan, they would be tossed in the freezer for 1/2 hour then the walk-in cooler, then cooked off that night. The window above 40 would likely then be less than 2 hours. However, for comfort's sake I would like to hear from the community about other effective methods of control besides a salt/sugar brine cure. I suppose a very light brine for a limited time would be doable, particularly in tandem with another liquid - Just yesterday I was speaking with Steven Loppnow (VenisonAmerica on our boards), who uses an apple juice soak for 2 hours prior to cold smoking, though I don't believe he salts. With such a low acid content, I wonder how efficacious this would be, but, still, he got me curious, particularly since I will be doing an applewood smoke and serving the racks with caramelized shallots and apples (and parsnip puree and a rosemary Sauce Robert). However, these racks are double racks, quite thick, and penetration would be low, esp. on a light brine and limited soak. I am also considering a bit of "dry aging." The fat and blood content on the pork is high comparably speaking, again, it is most decidedly not "the other white meat," esp. in this blade area that I have spec'd. Any and all thoughts greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jim and intraining, and others, keep 'em coming! P.S. - Intraining, I should have mentioned that I initially was not able to get the article by the link above, but, going to the paper and searching for the topic, it came up just fine. Thanks very much for the heads up. Paul
  20. Bueller - Bueller- No one with any thoughts?
  21. Dunno, and don't know the recipe, but one rule of thumb might be that whenever going with something like you describe (I'm guessing), e.g., a whole bird, roast, etc., a fairly tight fit in terms of saucepan/pot diameter, might apply. Then, when you "cover," and you have a bird of a given size, the bird-water ratio would always be within a certain range of play. Just a thought. Paul
  22. Hello all. I use Berkshire Pork in my restaurant, currently a spec of the blade end, 8 ribs, blade excised so I present a double rack. Extraordinarily flavorful, juicy - "old line pork," before it was bred for lean and flavorless character. Hence my problem. My normal treatment is nil - S & P, pan-roast with thyme, sage and butter-basting, and it is wonderful. However, as we move into the fall, I am interested in doing some cold-smoking on the racks prior to cooking them. For things like salmon, I use the "Le Smoker" cold smoker, and a relatively short cycle of 90 minutes. For the pork, I am not a big fan of brine/hammy taste on the loin, and would like to leave the flavor profile alone, save for a bit of smoke pickup. Any with any thoughts on methods of cold smoking for this window of 90 minutes without brine curing, I'd appreciate it. Paul
  23. I do find a significant difference between fleur de sel (with trace remnants of many minerals) and refined salts composed simply of CaCl (like Kosher salt). I have had many different fleur de sels, and what they share, to me, is a length of taste and a roundness not possessed by kosher salt, which has a bracing, harsh "saltiness" back of throat. The coarseness, combined with a gentle, complex flavor, is ideal for me to do last-minute treatments on meats, poultry, fish, grilled vegetables, etc. Paul
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