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eG Foodblog: Chris Amirault (2010) - Holidays in Rhode Island


Chris Amirault
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Do you make coffee at home usually (ever)? What's your preferred method?

We have a prized Racillio Sylvia machine on which I (and, twice daily, my wife) make espresso and cappuccino with coffee ground in a doserless Rocky burr grinder. Here they are back in the old kitchen:

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They're basically part of the family at this point, dinged up but still functional just like me. No drip or French press set up at this point, and we don't fiddle with the Rocky to grind up other sorts of coffee -- though the lingering taste of that El Diablo makes me reconsider....

Most of the time, the preferred caffeine delivery system at work involves tea. Lots of it. More on that a bit down the road.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Based on your taste in cookbooks, I have to recommend that you find a copy of "Garlic and Goosefat: Country Recipes from SW France."

Totally authentic unfussy French provincial cuisine.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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What do you do for espresso beans?

We use Dark Roast of the Decade from New Harvest Coffee Roasters as our regular, go-to espresso bean. It's local and has the roasting date stamped on it, so we can hit a few different places to make sure we're getting fresh beans. Good stuff: replaced the very reliable Alterra beans some time ago.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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This just in from Paula Wolfert:

Gascon daube: two reasons aside from geography. There is duck fat instead of olive oil and beef rather than lamb.

She'll try to stop by later this week for more discussion!

Oh, excellent! That book is actually on my Xmas list, so if Santa is kind I'll have it in hand shortly.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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What do you do for espresso beans?

We use Dark Roast of the Decade from New Harvest Coffee Roasters as our regular, go-to espresso bean. It's local and has the roasting date stamped on it, so we can hit a few different places to make sure we're getting fresh beans. Good stuff: replaced the very reliable Alterra beans some time ago.

I am jealous that you can find a good espresso blend you like locally roasted; there is one roaster in the immediate Dallas area that is doing a great job, but their espresso isn't to my taste. I am always having to ship beans all over the country, and if I don't time it right I end up having to go without for a couple days (shudder at the thought).

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More prep: makin' bacon.

I was one of the people who fell whole hog into charcuterie thanks to Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie, and I now make my own bacon, pancetta, smoked salmon, sausages, and much more. For the cassoulet I have to prepare some fresh garlic sausages, so post-Xmas I'll be getting out the grinder and stuffer. Last night I had to finish up a bacon production session.

I get my pork bellies at a Chinese grocer with whom I have a long and excellent relationship, much of it founded on the remarkable bellies that they get from a NH farm. About 10 days of curing they went into the smoker, got finished in the Sous Vide Supreme, and then needed to be sliced.

My baby:

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The old Hobart feet slide around a bit, so I put a Thai wooden paddle to good use:

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Very happy with this batch, which I'll be cooking up post-sleepover in the morning to serve with pancakes:

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I've taken to vacuum-sealing batches of things in these rolls:

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You can read more about the technique for making those roles here.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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That slicer is a thing of beauty, Chris. I'm not allowed to have one, because of my long history of removing parts of my body with any kitchen implement that's equipped with a blade, so I have to slice all my bacon by hand.

Looking forward to your week!

(BTW, if you're doing printed menus for Christmas dinner, you may wish to note that the accent on "gougères" goes the other way...)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Has anyone used them for gougeres? Wendy seems skeptical, to say the least, and I can't find any contradictory references there.

I have - they are great!

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I've been asked to make fresh noodles to go with the daube. I always use Moby's failsafe fresh pasta recipe. Any thoughts on shapes? The current tagliatelle vs pappardelle topic has me thinking about width and thickness, in particular -- though I don't think I want anything as long as those two.

Your thoughts?

It all sounds delicious!

I'd be tempted to make spaetzle instead of rolled-out noodles. They are pasta-like (they are actually probably technically pasta) and people who like Italian fresh pasta inevitably love them. Spaetzle has the added interest that it may be unfamiliar to many guests, so it's a surprise discovery of something awesome. They are also, more to the point, dead easy to make with no advanced preparation. And the leftover spaetzle plus a little cheese makes an awesome gratin.

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I've been asked to make fresh noodles to go with the daube. I always use Moby's failsafe fresh pasta recipe. Any thoughts on shapes? The current tagliatelle vs pappardelle topic has me thinking about width and thickness, in particular -- though I don't think I want anything as long as those two.

Your thoughts?

It all sounds delicious!

I'd be tempted to make spaetzle instead of rolled-out noodles. They are pasta-like (they are actually probably technically pasta) and people who like Italian fresh pasta inevitably love them. Spaetzle has the added interest that it may be unfamiliar to many guests, so it's a surprise discovery of something awesome. They are also, more to the point, dead easy to make with no advanced preparation. And the leftover spaetzle plus a little cheese makes an awesome gratin.

Do you need a spaetzle making device?

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Not necessarily. But it is certainly easier if you have one. Luckily, they are cheap and not hard to find (and then you have a reason to make more!). But you can always make the dough/batter a bit stiffer and run it through the large holes in a food mill or even a colander.

Once I hipped to spaetzle, I never thought of serving a braised beef or lamb type dish with noodles again.

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Thanks for all the great feedback.

(BTW, if you're doing printed menus for Christmas dinner, you may wish to note that the accent on "gougères" goes the other way...)

Thanks -- will do.

Has anyone used them for gougeres? Wendy seems skeptical, to say the least, and I can't find any contradictory references there.

I have - they are great!

Do you have a tweaked version of that recipe, Kerry? I have some gruyere awaiting; it is essential to finely cube it or can you grate it?

Sam, thanks for the spaetzle idea. Mr. Shaw made a batch of it at the pig breakdown we had here in Providence in March 2008, and I was shocked by how good it was.

Very tempted.... Checking sources now for a spaetzle maker. Will report back.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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A bit more prep from last night: getting my ducks in a row.

I grabbed a few duck legs at Champe Speidel's Persimmon Provisions in Bristol RI for confit a few weeks ago, but I needed duck ham and fat for Xmas dinner, as well as duck stock and more confit for cassoulet. So I grabbed two more birds at nearby shops:

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On the left, the Bell & Evans duck (not sure of the type) from Whole Foods, and on the right, the Lake Brome duck, which is a Pekin variety, I believe, from East Side Marketplace, which always carries them. Both were the last in the case; apparently some food nut beat me to 'em.

Here they are in their naked glory. I don't quite know how to tell one duck from another. You?

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The Brome duck is noticeably fatter across the breast. I didn't weigh them or note their weight on the label, stupidly.

After breaking them down, the first order of business was creating the brine for the duck ham following the basics of Ruhlman & Polcyn, though subbing in Lustau Pedro Ximenez sherry for madeira:

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I do nearly everything with that handy scale that I can, and I recently figured out that I can also weigh water when making brine. You know, 1 ml = 1 gram, that whole "foundation of metric measurement is water" thing. Sigh....

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Duck breasts ready to go:

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Glug glug glug...

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Out the next day to get their pellicle on for smoking:

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We'll see them later, post-smoke and SV finish.

Meanwhile, I seasoned the duck legs & thighs for confit:

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Overnight in a pan, cleaned off, and into the FoodSaver bag they went with a bit of duck fat:

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Those spent the night in the Sous Vide Supreme. Meanwhile, I saved the skin to render into duck fat (or, perhaps, crackle up), and got the rest ready for stock:

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I have become a convert to the stock-making method I first learned as "Chinese": bring everything to a boil, pour off that gunky mess, rinse it, and then refill with clean water. It beats skim-o-rama by a million miles -- and, really, look at that stuff:

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Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Both. Unless you get wild-shot ducks, Muscovys are the smallest breed you'll find; they're usually in the 3-1/2 pound range, and yours look bigger than that (also, you've positively identified one, and the B&E is the same size). Muscovys also have less fat.

Mullards -- besides the Pekin and Muscovy, the only other species bred commercially on any scale (meaning, that you would find in a run-of-the-mill supermarket) -- are larger; usually you only see their breasts in the meat case, often labeled magret. There are exceptions: I think D'Artagnan carries all three types, and maybe more, as whole ducks and parts.

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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No one seems to have spaetzle makers in town, including four stores and several chefs I contacted. (Those chefs do like their iPhones, though!) Wondering if I can make do with a colander or cheese grater....

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Has anyone used them for gougeres? Wendy seems skeptical, to say the least, and I can't find any contradictory references there.

I have - they are great!

Do you have a tweaked version of that recipe, Kerry? I have some gruyere awaiting; it is essential to finely cube it or can you grate it?

Looking through my recipe I find only this - for a savory version (gougere) add 1/2 cup parmesan, swiss or cheddar cheese, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, 1/8 tsp cayenne. You can also add 1/2 tsp or dried herbs to cheese paste.

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