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


Chris Hennes
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1) Has anybody tried the sweet potato puree variation of the potato puree? Is the starch retrogradation still necessary? As the text does not say this can be omitted, I would assume that it is, but I am not aware that sweet potatoes have the same starch structure.

2) what temperature/time is necessary in SV to gelatinize poultry skin in order to enhance its texture after sear? Does a regular bath at ~135F accomplish this?

3) How can one substitute powdered lecithin for liquid lecithin in these recipes?

4) Would it make sense to use deboned turkey legs for the turkey confit?

Edited by HowardLi (log)
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5) I would rather do a dry brine than a wet brine for poultry breasts. Is there any reason why I should not salt and vac seal a breast using s1 grams of salt (and s2 grams of baking soda) for T1 hours and then allow the skin to air dry for T2 hours?

6) 2% NaCl concentration by weight is an acceptable salinity?

7) How do I ensure that the baking soda I use is sufficiently non-degraded? If I checked the pH of some mixed into water, would that be useful?

Edited by HowardLi (log)
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Finally, the macaroni & cheese recipe was made using homemade sodium citrate. I've had some on order for a month now & have been having trouble with the supplier, and I was committed to making mac & cheese so decided to try making some at home with baking soda & citric acid. Anybody else tried their hand at this? Basically I combined citric acid with water, then very slowly added baking soda, before evaporating off the water. Was this dangerous/dumb/ill-advised?

Haven't tried this but I thought about it. I believe I saw a site suggesting you could use citric acid for cheese sauce, or maybe even lemon juice. In any case I have used citric acid and only noticed a tiny bit of acidity. Nothing wrong with neutralising your own, though. Did you figure out the stoichiometry or just add the soda until it stopped fizzing? Not sure I would have bothered evaporating the water.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Pork belly revisited

I made pork belly adobo for the 2nd time, with minor alterations. I cooled everything down after cooking, to remove the fat. Then I cut off the rind and quickly caramelized the remaining fat on the top. I baked the rinds separately until they were caramelised and served those as a snack.

We all enjoyed it much better than the previous version that had somewhat soft and fatty rind - I can highly recommend this approach, if you have the extra time for cooling down and baking the tops of pieces separately.

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It seems like if you're going for the Home Jus, you could combine the chicken wings, thighs, and ground meat into one big batch pressure cooker batch along with the veggies and herbs and shorten the amount of cooking time almost to half of doing the two recipes (brown chicken stock + chicken jus) separately. Anybody see any reason why that wouldn't work?

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3) How can one substitute powdered lecithin for liquid lecithin in these recipes?

The book specifically says you cannot substitute.

I read that. Is your answer that it cannot be done, period? I understand the difference is that the powdered lecithin has been de-fatted. Is that an irreversible change?

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Finally, the macaroni & cheese recipe was made using homemade sodium citrate. I've had some on order for a month now & have been having trouble with the supplier, and I was committed to making mac & cheese so decided to try making some at home with baking soda & citric acid. Anybody else tried their hand at this? Basically I combined citric acid with water, then very slowly added baking soda, before evaporating off the water. Was this dangerous/dumb/ill-advised?
Just got the book a week ago and haven't ordered my magic powders yet. Meanwhile, saw this and decided to give it a shot. Seemed to work, though I've not had the official version. Bear in mind that, according to Wiki, this procedure produces monosodium citrate, whereas the commercial food additive generally is trisodium citrate. No idea how important that might be, especially in other applications.

FWIW, I went about this a little differently. I started with 1 c water; stirred in 1 tbsp citric acic (7.8 g), then stirred in baking soda 1/2 tsp at a time until the fizzing nearly subsided (decided to err on the side of slightly acidic). That ended up being 2 tsp (7.9 g total), but my baking soda is almost two years old (albeit stored in a tight plastic container), so fresh might come in lower. Interestingly, after fizzing out, the cup of water had increased in weight by 10.4 g, which is silly-close to the 11 g specified in the book. Dumb luck, I assure you.

Used to prepare a sauce with 1/2 lb sharp cheddar, which then tossed with 1/2 lb dried pasta, cooked and drained. Got the flavor and consistency everyone else describes. Have to say, even in small portions, it might be too rich for me (probably will end up backing off the sauce by about 25%), but the experiment certainly seemed to be a success.

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Last night I made a full-on MCaH Thanksgiving dinner for my parents who are going to be out of the country for the next couple weeks. We started with the caramelized carrot soup, which I finally did the "right" way with carotene butter & fresh carrot juice (using about 12-13 pounds of carrots all told I think). Then we had the creamed spinach, potato puree, baked macaroni & cheese with cheese crumble, green salad with romaine dressing, modernist sandwich bread as dinner rolls, and sous vide turkey breast & turkey leg confit with home jus gras. To feed a dozen people I doubled the macaroni, potato puree (but not the butter), and creamed spinach, and I halved the bread recipe, making everything else as written. For dessert I made a pumpkin pie using pressure caramelized pumpkin added to the pastry cream recipe and spiced with the autumn spice mix, as well as the gingerbread dough. It didn't set up like a traditional pumpkin pie - were I to do it again I'd definitely add gelatin as recommended in the book.

All told it was a good amount of work, but all of the "make ahead" sections were extremely useful and something I wish more cookbooks included. Some of the favorites for people were the creamed spinach, romaine dressing, potato puree, and turkey confit. Never having messed with turkey legs before, I didn't realize removing the tendons is more than just fussy French technique & would've made carving 10x easier. Lesson learned. I made a few other mistakes as well, but all the recipes from this book have been very forgiving for me so far.

Finally, the macaroni & cheese recipe was made using homemade sodium citrate. I've had some on order for a month now & have been having trouble with the supplier, and I was committed to making mac & cheese so decided to try making some at home with baking soda & citric acid. Anybody else tried their hand at this? Basically I combined citric acid with water, then very slowly added baking soda, before evaporating off the water. Was this dangerous/dumb/ill-advised?

I'm going to be doing something similar to this. Did the pressure cooked pumpkin taste good? I saw one of the pies used a thin layer of pressure caramelized onions on the bottom layer. I was thinking maybe doing a pie with pumpkin like that and then a cream variation on top.

Did the turkey confit come out like standard confit? The interesting thing that stuck out to me about this recipe was that you don't let it cure and then cook it, you just add the cure and start cooking right away.

Finally, how was the turkey breast? Is it something you would do again? Without a sear/skin it seems like the breast itself would really have to pack some flavor.

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I'm going to be doing something similar to this. Did the pressure cooked pumpkin taste good? I saw one of the pies used a thin layer of pressure caramelized onions on the bottom layer. I was thinking maybe doing a pie with pumpkin like that and then a cream variation on top.

Did the turkey confit come out like standard confit? The interesting thing that stuck out to me about this recipe was that you don't let it cure and then cook it, you just add the cure and start cooking right away.

Finally, how was the turkey breast? Is it something you would do again? Without a sear/skin it seems like the breast itself would really have to pack some flavor.

The pressure cooked pumpkin tasted good, but not enough to whole-heartedly recommend it. I do like your idea to use it as a thin layer with a cream variation on top. The one mistake I made that I forgot to mention was to take into account the salt level of the Autumn Spice mix, which I had used to spice the pumpkin. It pulled the flavors a little too much towards the savory side.

As for the confit, I haven't had enough regular confit to be able to compare. The more I cook out of MCaH, and use sous vide in general, I keep reminding myself I should do some dishes the "traditional" way as a reference point.

I'm in no rush to do the turkey breast again, or not for a big feast. It was juicy and flavorful but couldn't compete with everything else going on in that meal. If you were to serve your dinner in courses, rather than family style like I did, it might make more of a splash if paired well. But that's me being nit-picky - my grandmother pulled me aside & said it was the most tender turkey she'd ever had.

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It seems like if you're going for the Home Jus, you could combine the chicken wings, thighs, and ground meat into one big batch pressure cooker batch along with the veggies and herbs and shorten the amount of cooking time almost to half of doing the two recipes (brown chicken stock + chicken jus) separately. Anybody see any reason why that wouldn't work?

If you were to add the extra ingredients from the Chicken Jus recipe, you'd have to add extra water to cover those ingredients and extract flavor...which would result in more normal stock. You can only fit X amount of ingredients in Y amount of water, so the Chicken Jus recipe solves that problem by using already flavorful stock in place of water - commonly known as a double stock (and triple stocks exist as well). I imagine one shortcut would be to start the jus with store bought low sodium chicken broth.

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Nothing really to add about how delicious the mac and cheese is from MC and MC@Home, but I did try the version made with milk recently from MC@H and everyone of course loved it...especially the kids. Now, as an observation, I was surprised that in MC@H they ask you to boil the macaroni traditionally and drain it. WHY?? One of the big pluses to the MC process is that you boil the pasta in a specific amount of water and no need to drain it. Boiling and draining is not an easier or more homecook-friendly method at all. In any case I used the MC ratios for that and did not drain the pasta.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Nothing really to add about how delicious the mac and cheese is from MC and MC@Home, but I did try the version made with milk recently from MC@H and everyone of course loved it...especially the kids. Now, as an observation, I was surprised that in MC@H they ask you to boil the macaroni traditionally and drain it. WHY?? One of the big pluses to the MC process is that you boil the pasta in a specific amount of water and no need to drain it. Boiling and draining is not an easier or more homecook-friendly method at all. In any case I used the MC ratios for that and did not drain the pasta.

Personally i found the boil in the right ratio of water ridiculous. It had little real benefit, and a lot of risks. The amount of needed water will be dependent on the level of boil (more or less evaporation), and you're having to calculate ratios to boil pasta! When i read that i honestly said to myself "ok, this is where the MC team jumped the shark and is doing stuff for the sake of complexity". I was very happy to see they addressed that in MC@H.

You really don't think boil and drain is easier than "calculate ratio, boil, adjust heat because it's too high, add water because my pasta isn't ready and the water is gone, don't walk away because otherwise it'll mess up, add cheese"?

I have tried both methods (boil in ratio, and boil and drain) and there was absolutely no difference.

To each their own, but to me the ratio method was MUCH more complicated.

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Nothing really to add about how delicious the mac and cheese is from MC and MC@Home, but I did try the version made with milk recently from MC@H and everyone of course loved it...especially the kids. Now, as an observation, I was surprised that in MC@H they ask you to boil the macaroni traditionally and drain it. WHY?? One of the big pluses to the MC process is that you boil the pasta in a specific amount of water and no need to drain it. Boiling and draining is not an easier or more homecook-friendly method at all. In any case I used the MC ratios for that and did not drain the pasta.

Personally i found the boil in the right ratio of water ridiculous. It had little real benefit, and a lot of risks. The amount of needed water will be dependent on the level of boil (more or less evaporation), and you're having to calculate ratios to boil pasta! When i read that i honestly said to myself "ok, this is where the MC team jumped the shark and is doing stuff for the sake of complexity". I was very happy to see they addressed that in MC@H.

You really don't think boil and drain is easier than "calculate ratio, boil, adjust heat because it's too high, add water because my pasta isn't ready and the water is gone, don't walk away because otherwise it'll mess up, add cheese"?

I have tried both methods (boil in ratio, and boil and drain) and there was absolutely no difference.

To each their own, but to me the ratio method was MUCH more complicated.

Heh...you definitely are right about "to each their own" Jason. :smile:

I've done the mac and cheese a dozen times or more and have never had an issue or complication. Just weigh pasta, tare and add water and cook. Crazy easy, less wasteful and less cleanup. It also takes advantage of the starch in the water I think or am I wrong about that?

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Nothing really to add about how delicious the mac and cheese is from MC and MC@Home, but I did try the version made with milk recently from MC@H and everyone of course loved it...especially the kids. Now, as an observation, I was surprised that in MC@H they ask you to boil the macaroni traditionally and drain it. WHY?? One of the big pluses to the MC process is that you boil the pasta in a specific amount of water and no need to drain it. Boiling and draining is not an easier or more homecook-friendly method at all. In any case I used the MC ratios for that and did not drain the pasta.

Personally i found the boil in the right ratio of water ridiculous. It had little real benefit, and a lot of risks. The amount of needed water will be dependent on the level of boil (more or less evaporation), and you're having to calculate ratios to boil pasta! When i read that i honestly said to myself "ok, this is where the MC team jumped the shark and is doing stuff for the sake of complexity". I was very happy to see they addressed that in MC@H.

You really don't think boil and drain is easier than "calculate ratio, boil, adjust heat because it's too high, add water because my pasta isn't ready and the water is gone, don't walk away because otherwise it'll mess up, add cheese"?

I have tried both methods (boil in ratio, and boil and drain) and there was absolutely no difference.

To each their own, but to me the ratio method was MUCH more complicated.

Heh...you definitely are right about "to each their own" Jason. :smile:

I've done the mac and cheese a dozen times or more and have never had an issue or complication. Just weigh pasta, tare and add water and cook. Crazy easy, less wasteful and less cleanup. It also takes advantage of the starch in the water I think or am I wrong about that?

Yes, regarding the starch...but isn't that EXACTLY why we avoided a bechamel:) To eliminate the flavor robbing properties of starch. Either way the cheese sauce is so goopy and sticky i've never had an issue

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I've made three of the cream pies - Apple, Banana, and Coconut. I have very little pastry experience so my crusts haven't looked like much, but they certainly taste good. The apple was my favorite. I didn't have much luck with blowtorch-caramelizing the bananas without them cooking to mush, so I need some practice there. The passionfruit glaze did not work for me (1.5 g xanthan per 20 g juice?) - it turned to rubbery goop and was unspreadable so I left it out. Could be I didn't strain the juice fine enough.

Cheers

Hugh

Hi Hugh,

I asked Sam, one of the developmental chefs, about this. Here's what he said:

"If the bananas are getting overcooked, I suggest slicing them, dusting them with sugar, and then leaving them in the freezer on a metal tray long enough to firm up a little (roughly 15 minutes). Note that the metal tray will stay cool as you torch the banana slices, which will help to prevent them from overcooking.

That sounds like an awful lot of xanthan gum. Using 0.15 g for 20 g of passion fruit puree is probably a better starting point."

Judy Wilson

Editorial Assistant

Modernist Cuisine

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FWIW, I agree with jmolinari. The original MC mac-n-cheese recipe, which I know only from the eG thread, always struck me as oddly ad hoc. The MCaH version makes much more sense. Prepare sauce, cook pasta, drain and toss with sauce. Doubtless the original recipe works - as evidenced by many posts on this forum - but I suspect that's simply because it's a forgiving recipe. Meanwhile, the MCaH version has the virtue that one can prepare the sauce all at a go, rather than preparing the emulsified cheese then folding it (grated with some difficulty) into the pasta-with-water. Kudos to the MC team for being able to think outside their own box.

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Finally, the macaroni & cheese recipe was made using homemade sodium citrate. I've had some on order for a month now & have been having trouble with the supplier, and I was committed to making mac & cheese so decided to try making some at home with baking soda & citric acid. Anybody else tried their hand at this? Basically I combined citric acid with water, then very slowly added baking soda, before evaporating off the water. Was this dangerous/dumb/ill-advised?
Just got the book a week ago and haven't ordered my magic powders yet. Meanwhile, saw this and decided to give it a shot. Seemed to work, though I've not had the official version. Bear in mind that, according to Wiki, this procedure produces monosodium citrate, whereas the commercial food additive generally is trisodium citrate. No idea how important that might be, especially in other applications.

In particular, it seems that trisodium citrate dihydrate is the intended form for the mac and cheese recipe. My almost-exclusive method for making the mac and cheese now to is to add citric acid and baking soda directly to the cooking liquid.

Basically, for a given mass of sodium citrate (100% in the following scaling), add 71.45% citric acid* and 85.69% baking soda (stoichiometric ratio) to your liquid (slowly, lots of CO2 bubbles are generated). At the end, you'll have produced the equivalent of adding 100% trisodium citrate dihydrate and 12.25% excess water. This excess is fairly insignificant since very little sodium citrate is used in comparison to the cooking liquid (so the excess water ends up being < 1/100 of the total cooking liquid).

If you want a powder for later use, you can boil it off in an oven at approximately 150C/300F (in any case, keep it below 158C/316F to make sure you end up with dihydrate rather than anhydrous). I used to do this, but it's so easy to prepare to order that I haven't felt the need recently.

(* This assumes citric acid monohydrate. If using anhydrous citric acid, its scaling should be 65.33% and you'll get approximately 6.13% excess water)

- Sharif

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It turns out that finding chicken skin at your butcher isn't always so easy. I've got some at home that I'll try to render as much fat from as I can but in making the Home Jus, does anybody have a recommendation on what to replace my chicken fat with? Butter or a neutral oil just sounds weird.

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"does anybody have a recommendation on what to replace my chicken fat with"

Maybe you can find a tub of duck fat at the grocery store. Thats what I plan on using for thanksgiving.

If thats not an option, butter doesnt sound like a bad alternative to me.

Edited by Twyst (log)
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