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Chris Hennes

Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine at Home" (Part 1)

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Pork belly is generally widely available from my experience, but some of the larger non-specialty supermarkets don't stock it.

Around here in Austin you can buy it at a lot of the more high end supermarkets (Whole Foods, Central Market) or any number of the dozens of Mexican Meat Markets.


Edited by Baselerd (log)

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Ive only seen it in Chinatown markets in the Boston area. Id love to find it elsewhere.

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Those of you who have made the adobo: how essential is it that you use pork belly, rather than another part of the pig?

As above, I have made it successfully with pork butt cubed up. Not as good as with belly, though. Make sure you use a fatty cut of pork with plenty of connective tissue and don't trim it up. Definitely don't use a lean tender cut.


--

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I made the rice noodles for lunch today and served them with the pressure caramelized peanut sauce and a sous vide chicken breast. I threw in some scallions and crushed peanuts as well. It was really good, but needed a little hit of acidity for my taste. Will either squeeze a lime or quick pickle some julienned carrots next time. I was worried about my rice noodles as they didnt really separate at all when going through the pasta cutter, but they separated just fine when they hit the water.

Going to make the pork belly adobo tonight for monday night football, I have high hopes after reading many of the reviews.

Around here in Austin you can buy it at a lot of the more high end supermarkets (Whole Foods, Central Market) or any number of the dozens of Mexican Meat Markets.

Im in austin as well and find it a little difficult to source. Central market has it frozen at times and whole foods can be hit or miss in my experience. Ive been having to go to MT market to get it ><

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Im in austin as well and find it a little difficult to source. Central market has it frozen at times and whole foods can be hit or miss in my experience. Ive been having to go to MT market to get it ><

The central market at Westgate usually has it stocked (about 3/4 the time), but they have never had it out on display for some reason - just ask the meat counter peeps. I don't know what market you go to, but the pork belly I've gotten at Central Market has consistently been much better quality than most of the meat markets I've been too (usually have too much fat to meat ratio, I like mine about 1:1 ratio).


Edited by Baselerd (log)

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I've joined the ranks of people who have done the Adobo and loved it. Easy to do and was amazing. I loved the sauce with rice.

The only change I would make next time I think would be taking the skin off the belly. It was just a bit to 'soft' on some pieces with all the heavy fat plus the skin creating a mouth feel that wasn't optimal. The meaty parts of the belly were phenominal though. It's one I would definitly select belly with more meat than fat. The left overs were great as well.

I have the rest of the belly I bought in the water bath right now waiting some BLTs for election night. I'm pretty interested how those come out.

I think pork skin servers to give gelatin and the great mouthfeel to the braising liquid. You can remove it after cooking though, I may actually do the same.

I made red wine glaze tonight. It is finger lickin' good. Cannot wait for my sous vide to arrive to make short ribs to go with it.

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on the PC pork belly, as above: is everyone using fresh bay leaves? Im guessing the fresh are 'sweeter' than the dried. so far have not found fresh.

and a trip to Chinatown-Allston this am was very disappointing: no pork belly! its a Ranch-88 and almost went out of buisness and is now HongKong but seems a little sad at the edges.

We usually get fresh bay leaves at Indian grocery stores.


Judy Wilson

Editorial Assistant

Modernist Cuisine

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Wow great tip! I go to a very good Indian grocery store from time to time. thanks for your input! always appreciated.

but now its soon winter here ....

but what do the Guru's at MC think a (portion) of dried bay might change the dish?

not too much snow in your area. plenty of rains for those trees!

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If you get really desperate you could always visit your local garden/tree nursery and pinch a few leaves off a bay tree :) ... Not that I am recommending stealing!

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Recipes cooked/methods used so far..

Pistachio Pesto

Everyone here was right, it was a great hit

Cooking a pizza on a steel plate

I ordered the Baking Steel from kickstarter when it was available, and had a bring-your-own-toppings pizza party last week. I used Serious Eat's fermented dough recipe, and had success with the steel, but the crust still didn't bubble and char quite like I had hoped it would. Here are some pics - http://imgur.com/a/dp95c

Turkey Breast

I'm going to be sous-viding the thanksgiving turkey again this year, so over the weekend I made the turkey breast recipe (along side with a standard 5% brined sous-vide'd turkey breast for comparison). The recipe calls for you to remove the skin, and I learned why - when finishing the breast off in a hot skillet to sear the skin, the sugars from the apple juice/milk solution burn. While it didn't take away from the flavor, the appearance wasn't so great. The turkey itself was delicious, juicy with a definite hint of apple to it, but I think it would be more reserved for a "turkey meal", not thanksgiving. The traditional roasted flavor of the standard brined turkey breast won the taste contest with my girlfriend, so that's what I'll be serving at her parent's house in a few weeks.

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Pressure-Cooked Paella del Bosco (pp. 326-327)

As we discussed earlier in the topic, you may regard it as something of a stretch to call this "paella". Setting that aside, however, it does taste good. Predominantly of paprika and saffron, of course, but there is a ton of thyme in there as well, and I really enjoyed the lemon zest (which I used as a garnish). Overall, it was very easy and fast to make, if more in the risotto school than the paella.

DSC_0038 (1).jpg


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Why not simply buy a bay plant? I have a couple of them and when they get too big I cut them right back and they never fail to grow back. I keep them in a south facing window in the winter and when it warms up in the spring, out they go to the deck. I use a lot of bay leaf and really like having these plants at hand.

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My bay tree is just now starting to recover from over-optimistic leaf harvesting when it was little, I hope. It's a 2 m tall stick with a few leaves. I think some insects didn't help, either. They are rather slow growing trees.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I also made the Raspberry panna cotta, which was super-simple & led to the perfect texture and creamyness, without tasting any of the gelation agent. I thawed a couple bags of unsweetened raspberries for the puree. Ended up with left over cream, raspberries, and gelatin; I'll scale up to use up all the raspberries next time.
This was my first attempt from MCAH also, and it turned out great. I used to make panna cotta from a Martha Stewart recipe but the texture was never as good as "restaurant quality". This raspberry version was spot on. As to leftover raspberrries, I saved some perfect ones for decoration and the rest went in my belly while I was making the dish. A keeper for sure.

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in New England things are different,

how ever Id not mind having a small one indoors over the winter.

............

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Randomly happened upon a farm selling raw milk so I made the Ultrafrothy milkshake.

1 L Raw milk - $6

Cold bag and blue ice to get the milk home - $7

Egg white powder - $8

Whey protein isolate - $22

Expedited shipping to get the protein before the milk spoiled - $4

If I had figured on all that at the outset, I wouldn't have done it, but I had to shop around, and the more things I got, the less willing I was to drop out. Granted, I have a still have a huge tub of whey protein left. Protein shakes for breakfast from now on? It's a better way to eat the cost than letting it languish in the cupboard.

The shake was interesting. I had troubles getting it cold enough. Even after the salted ice bath, it was just cool after a couple minutes in the blender. It did have an interesting aerated kind of mouth feel, but it wasn't thick at all. I was expecting something like an Orange Julius in texture, but it was much thinner. The powdered raspberry topping was delicious.

Would having it colder make it thicken and froth more? Would blending it longer change anything? I blended it for 2 minutes instead of 3 because I didn't want it to warm up any more.

Alternatives I'd try next time:

- some ice to add texture and keep it cold; cream or half/half base to offset the additional ice water

- fresh egg/egg whites; basically a homemade eggnog, which in my experience is thicker

- powdered Julius imitation mix; cheaper, maybe thicker?

- just a regular ice cream shake

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I feel like I'm behind the curve here, never having read the book. I feel like I've been playing in some dark arts til I stumbled on this forum. I got a bag of transglutaminase yesterday, and my centrifuge, so I'm off to explore more and see what happens. Cheers.

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I feel like I'm behind the curve here, never having read the book. I feel like I've been playing in some dark arts til I stumbled on this forum. I got a bag of transglutaminase yesterday, and my centrifuge, so I'm off to explore more and see what happens. Cheers.

What, no rotary evaporator yet???

Just kidding. :) Welcome, and let us know what you're concocting.

Larry


Larry Lofthouse

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the gold standard for the MC Club is a Paco-Jet. +/- a blast chiller.

:wink:

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Just finished the Chinese duck variation on the carnitas - once again some amazing results. The texture was tender and creamy, I'm probably going to try the Korean short rib recipe in a few days since I bought way too many frozen buns. I also paired this with the Chinese noodle soup variation on the infused chicken soup, using Chinese banquet broth from the original MC books instead of the MCaH duck broth.

664963_10102515711615630_1535136522_o.jpg

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I can report that pressure caramelized vegetables can be made perfectly without any butter, for those among us that find them too rich. Tonigh I made celeriac pure with neutral oil, 15 gr of it, and a splash of water. Got really nice and deep flavour thanks to baking soda, and it was light enough to figure as vegetable next to our red wine glazed steaks and couscous with apples and fennel.

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      Chef Grant processing the broccoli

      The stems are placed in a polyethylene bag, along with butter, salt and granulated cane juice. The bag is sealed with a cryovac machine

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      Broccoli stems after cooking
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      Grant's mise...not your ordinary cutting board

      Poached Broccoli Stem and Crisp Bread cooking

      Ready for plating

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      Smoked Coho roe has arrived via Fed-Ex, courtesy of Steve Stallard

      Chef Grant devises a plating scheme for the Poached Broccoli Stem while Curtis looks on

      Chef Grant ponders one potential plating of the dish. He called this incarnation 'predictable' and started over.

      Another plating idea. This version is garnished with broccoli petals and ultra-thin slices of connected grapefruit pulp cells. The yellow petals are stand-ins for what will ultimately be broccoli blossoms
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      A third plating configuration for Poached Broccoli Stems; this one featuring the packets of roe wrapped in ultra thin sheets of grapefruit pulp cells
      At this point the team decides to move on and come back to it next week. After some conversation they decide that in the final dish, broccoli will appear in at least 5 forms: poached stems, floret puree, some raw form of the stem, the tiny individual sprouts of broccoli florets, and the blooms. Grant feels that Poached Broccoli Stem could be ready for service, although he still envisions some changes for the dish that will make it even more emblematic of his personal style. “Our dishes continue to evolve after they hit the menu. It is important for us to get to know them better before we can clearly see their weaknesses.”
      The thought for the dried crème brulee originated over a year ago when a regular customer jokingly asked for a crème brulee for dessert. “He said it as joke, I took it as a challenge,” says Grant. "Of course, we never intended to give him a regular crème brulee.” The team tried various techniques to create the powder-filled caramel bubble while at Trio to no avail. An acceptable filling for the Dried Crème Brulee has been developed by the Chef and his team but several different methods, attempted today, to create the orb from caramelized sugar have been less than 100% successful.

      Caramel blob awaiting formation. Chef Curtis kept this pliable by leaving it in a low oven throughout the day

      Chef Grant’s initial idea to use a metal bubble ring and heat gun (normally used for stripping paint) to form the bubbles does not work as hoped. Attempts to fashion them by hand also come up short.
      Says Grant, “At Trio we tried a hair-dryer. When Martin told me about these heat guns which get up to 900 degrees F, I thought we had it for sure. If it was easy everyone would do it I guess.” Eventually, Alinea partner Nick Kokonas garners the task’s best result by positioning a small, warm blob of sugar onto the end of a drinking straw and blowing into the other end. The results are promising. Curtis suggests using a sugar pump to inflate the orbs. That adjustment will be attempted on another day.
      “We intentionally position whimsical bite in the amuse slot, it tends to break the ice and make people laugh. It is a deliberate attempt to craft the experience by positioning the courses in a very pre-meditated order. A great deal of thought goes into the order of the courses, a misalignment may really take away from the meal as a whole.” For PB&J, the grapes are peeled while still on the vine and then dipped into unsweetened peanut butter. They are allowed to set–up, and then they are wrapped with a thin sheet of bread and lightly toasted. When the peeled grapes warm, they become so soft they mimic jelly. The composition is strangely unfamiliar in appearance but instantly reminiscent on the palate. PB&J is, according to Grant, virtually ready for service. There are a couple of aesthetic elements, which need minor tweaks but the Chef feels very good about today’s prototype.

      Chef John peels grapes while still on their stems

      Peeled grapes on their stems with peanut butter coating

      Chef Grant studies the completed PB&J in the Crucial Detail designed piece

      PB&J
      Often, creative impulses come by way of Alinea’s special purveyors. “Terra Spice’s support over the past couple of years has been unprecedented, and it has accelerated with the start of the food lab,” says Grant. “It is great to have relationships with people that think like we do, it can make the creative process so much easier. Often Phil, our contact at Terra, would come into the kitchen at Trio and encourage us to try and stump him on obscure ingredients. We always lost, but not from lack of trying. He even brought in two live chufa plants into the kitchen one day.” The relationship has developed and Terra team has really made an effort to not only search out products that the chefs ask for but also keep an eye out for new ingredients and innovations. In August, Phil brought by some samples of products that he thought the Alinea team might be interested in trying.

      Phil of Terra Spice showing the team some samples

      Coconut powder and other samples
      Grant recalls “the most surprising item to me was the dried coconut powder. When I put a spoonful in my mouth I could not believe the intense flavor and instant creamy texture, it was awesome.” That was the inspiration for what is now Instant Tropical Pudding. The guest is presented with a glass filled with dried ingredients. A member of the service team pours a measured amount of coconut water into the glass and instructs the guest to stir the pudding until a creamy consistency is formed.

      The rum-spiked coconut water being added to the powders
      At the end of the day, the Chefs assess their overall effort as having gone “fairly well.” It’s a mixed bag of results. Clearly, the fact that things have not gone perfectly on Day 1 has not dampened anyone’s spirits. The team has purposely attempted dishes of varying degrees of difficultly in order to maximize their productivity. Says Grant, “Making a bubble of caramel filled with powder…I have devoted the better part of fifteen years to this craft, I have trained with the best chefs alive. I have a good grasp of known technique. The lab's purpose is to create technique based on our vision. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail, but trying is what make us who we are." The team's measured evaluations of their day’s work reflect that philosophy.
      According to Chef Grant, “The purpose of the lab is to create the un-creatable. I know the level at which we can cook. I know the level of technique we already possess. What I am interested in is what we don't know...making a daydream reality.” With little more than 100 days on the calendar between now and Alinea’s opening, the Chef and his team will have their work cut out for them.
      =R=
      A special thanks to eGullet member yellow truffle, who contributed greatly to this piece
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