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Msk

Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine" (Part 2)

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I also get a little color with smoke - in other words the water turns a slightly brownish tint. Anyone have a recommendation for top quality bags to minimize this effect?

Is a mole hill being turned into a mountain? Is it a big deal really?

My wife complained about the smell which escalated into "what are all these gadgets and chemicals anyways." So yes, it is being a mole hill being turned into a mountain. ;-)

Well, that is understandable then :-). My wife would complain as well if our kitchen/living room smelled like smoked meat and vinegar for two days. Luckily my IC is in the laundry room and it has a plastic cover over the tub. So the smell-effect on anything is minimal.

So the answer to this is a bit complex since smell itself is complex. I will try and give the easy answer. All mistakes in this answer are mine.

Aromatic molecules have to get to our nose to be detected. This depends on the volatility (tendency to vapourize) of the aromatic molecules so they can leave the food and reach our noses. Normally, this means going from food to the air to our noses. In sous-vide cooking, this means going from the food, through the plastic of the vacuum bag, through the water, into the air, and then to our noses. Only difference is the extra steps of the plastic bag and water.

Volatility is largely dependant on molecular weight. Molecular weight refers to the weight of certain number of molecules (specifically a "mole" of a compound). Hydrogen gas, a molecule made of 2 hydrogen atoms, has a molecular weight of roughly 2. Oxygen gas, made of 2 oxygen atoms, has a molecular weight of roughly 32. This means that 2 grams of hydrogen gas will have the same number of molecules as 32 grams of oxygen gas. This is because oxygen gas is 16x heavier than hydrogen gas. A rule of thumb is that the smaller the molecular weight, the higher the volatility.

When it comes to aromatic compounds, those molecules that we can smell, the same rule of thumb exist. For example, many aromatic compounds have between 6 and 18 carbon groups in them. Molecules with more than 20 carbon groups are usually too heavy and thus have a low volatility which means they can't reach our nose for us to smell. An example of an aromatic molecule is vinegar, which has 2 carbon groups and a molecular weight of roughly 60, which is why it is so easy to smell it. Tangentially, it has be theorized that hydrocyanic acid (HCN) with a molecular weight of 27 is the smallest molecule we can smell, since 1 in 5 individuals are unable to detect it.

Going back to the original issue of smells with sous vide cooking, the only difference between the "normal" food to air to nose and sous vide to nose pathway are the plastic and water. So the question really becomes, how do the aromatic molecules get through the plastic and the water?

First lets discuss the water. There are many examples of smells that come from aromatic molecules in water. The ability of the molecules to get from the water into the air (and thus our noses) is dependant on the solubility of the molecule in water (the more soluble the molecule is, the tighter it is held within the water) and the volatility (or vapour pressure) of the molecule (the more volatile the molecule is, the more it wants to escape the water into the air). It gets a bit more complex when you consider the effects of things like temperature and pressure, but for our conversation, I think we don't need to talk about those factors.

So this leaves us with the situation where, if the aromatic molecules can get through the plastic into the water, then we will eventually smell them. Plastics are very interesting structures and there is a large variety in differences between individual plastics, however, we can talk about them in some generalizations. Aromatic molecules can get through plastics by several processes. First, aromas can "diffuse" or permeate through the plastic itself via the pores in the polymer matrix of plastic. Second, aromatic molecules have a solubility in plastic that is dependant on the molecular weight and crystallinity of the plastic. An example to think of is what happens in our fridges where saran wrapped food can start to smell/taste like the foods around them or make the foods around them stink/taste different (onions and blue cheese come to mind).

Given the various steps to get from the food > plastic > water > air > nose, it is easy to see why the smells of SV cooking are stronger the longer the cooking duration is. Higher temperature should increase the effect of SV aromas since the aromatic compounds are more likely to escape the bag into the water, but I am not sure how much difference temperature makes empirically because the delta temperature difference between most cooked proteins SV is about a 10˚C range.

By extension of this topic, another question comes up - how do we prevent this? Often, the aromatic smells can be decreased by using specific plastics and layering the plastics. If I am cooking for days or cooking something that doesn't smell as nice as momofuku short ribs, then I will double or triple bag with a thicker plastic (ie freezer rated vac bags instead of ziplocs) for decreasing both the chance of a bag perforation and obnoxious aromas. Not perfect, but definitely helps.

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Has anyone worked on sautéing dried potato flakes as used in one of the variations on pureed potatoes? I had come across a mention of that before getting MC, and my attempt resulted in mostly burnt flakes. I tried again yesterday, noting that the KM says to use equal weights of clarified butter and flakes. My first time around, I used a good bit less butter.

My results were a lot better, but I think I used just a little too much butter. I stirred them in a heavy bottom skillet placed on a heat diffuser. I then let them sit spread on parchment in a warm oven. The flakes remained slightly oily, and never crisped enough to allow them to be powdered with a mortar and pestle.

I suppose I will try crushing the flakes before hand. I also wonder if another fat taken to a higher temperature would work.

Has anyone worked through the technique, and finished with a puree of the flakes?

I've done the potato flakes, I think I posted about it uptopic. I sautéed them in butter until browned, then added to a potato purée. I thought it worked pretty well.

Yes, you posted this way back on page 1! I didn't even know that potato flakes existed but I was intrigued by the photos, so I found them in the supermarket and gave it a go. At the time I didn't have my copy of MC and so I was using Chris' excellent report as a guide, but it worked fine. I browned the flakes in butter (using a non-stick pan) and thought the result tasted a lot like a packet of plain crisps (we say chips in Australia, but I'm not talking about the hot kind, rather the things you snack on). Without a recipe I added too much to my mash, as the flavour was very noticable, but I thought the concept was great and next time I try it I'll be much more cautious with the quantities- I'll treat the browned flakes more like a seasoning than an ingredient.

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Has anyone worked through the technique, and finished with a puree of the flakes?

I've done the potato flakes, I think I posted about it uptopic. I sautéed them in butter until browned, then added to a potato purée. I thought it worked pretty well.

Yes, you posted this way back on page 1! ...

Ahh! I knew I had seen it somewhere. I stepped backwards through each page yesterday, but gave up around page 3. I see that the flakes in the pestle are much like what I've made. Somewhat crumbled and a little sticky. Not quite powdery. To night I experiment with Yukons that were water bathed vs. Russets that were baked.

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I'm very interested to know whether all the enthusiastic followers of MC on here are "modernist" in other things: architecture? furniture? design? music (a bit harder that one but i'm thinking more 20th century classical vs Mozart rather than current)?

do they go together? or can you be v conservative in everything else but still be excited by the new in cooking?

(so far i've only sous vided some steak, some duck, some aspargus and some lamb shoulder. nothing done properly from MC - though all good - but i'm still on vol 1)

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I'm very interested to know whether all the enthusiastic followers of MC on here are "modernist" in other things: architecture? furniture? design?

For me, yes. I'm a fan of modernist architecture and design, but I have to admit I'll be curious if my taste evolves over time, of if that is just a product of when I became aware of design. I think we can tend to get "stuck" in a certain style once we latch onto it. I'm hoping that MC doesn't actually become a "fad," but rather a perspective that permeates food and cooking going forward.

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On 3-145 there is a short discussion of wet rendering fat in a pressure cooker. The authors state one should put the fat in a canning jar with baking soda and pressure cook for four hours. What pressure, 1 bar (15psi)? Also, how does the water come into play? Does it go into the sealed (?) jar (if so, how much?) or is the jar not sealed and set open with water in the cooker?

Am I missing a more in depth discussion on the subject?

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I'll add myself to saying the pastrami is outstanding. I smoked it 3.5 hrs using grape vines. used short ribs. Super tender, nicely smoked and really flavorful.

photo.JPG

photo.JPG

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On 3-145 there is a short discussion of wet rendering fat in a pressure cooker. The authors state one should put the fat in a canning jar with baking soda and pressure cook for four hours. What pressure, 1 bar (15psi)? Also, how does the water come into play? Does it go into the sealed (?) jar (if so, how much?) or is the jar not sealed and set open with water in the cooker?

Am I missing a more in depth discussion on the subject?

I don't think you're missing anything, though you may be making it more complicated than it is :smile:. Pretend you are pressure-canning a fat/water puree. The exact ratio of water isn't that important, you separate it out when the fat is rendered. I basically use enough water to make a barely-pourable puree.

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would the above pastrami compare to Montreal Hot Smoked Meat ?

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As far as I know the two are pretty much interchangeable. My understanding is that there may be slight differences between the most traditional pastrami and the most traditional smoked meat, but defined broadly the two are the same.

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Work got busy and I just realized I have had my short ribs curing in the MC pastrami brine for over 5 days. Is there any issues with over curing your meat?

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I'll add myself to saying the pastrami is outstanding. I smoked it 3.5 hrs using grape vines. used short ribs. Super tender, nicely smoked and really flavorful.

photo.JPG

photo.JPG

So damn nice Jason. Very good work. Did you make the Saurkraut as well from MC?


Edited by FoodMan (log)

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not wishing to Fire up the Flames

:laugh:

Montreal Hot Smoked meat at Schwartz' is very different to me than say Katz or another NY top of the line pastrami.

Ive never figured out why. I dont get to go to either place much but to me the MHSM at S is a gazilllion time better.

remember that might just be me. "smoke" never came across too much in NYC. its very good stuff, but MHSM has very deffinitve subtle smoke.

not like Low and Slow BBQ. different.

but thanks fpr jumping in.

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On 3-145 there is a short discussion of wet rendering fat in a pressure cooker. The authors state one should put the fat in a canning jar with baking soda and pressure cook for four hours. What pressure, 1 bar (15psi)? Also, how does the water come into play? Does it go into the sealed (?) jar (if so, how much?) or is the jar not sealed and set open with water in the cooker?

Am I missing a more in depth discussion on the subject?

I don't think you're missing anything, though you may be making it more complicated than it is :smile:. Pretend you are pressure-canning a fat/water puree. The exact ratio of water isn't that important, you separate it out when the fat is rendered. I basically use enough water to make a barely-pourable puree.

Figures. With all that is in Modernist Cuisine it is easy to get lost in the details. I've got a bunch of fat rendering right now.

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Work got busy and I just realized I have had my short ribs curing in the MC pastrami brine for over 5 days. Is there any issues with over curing your meat?

There's no problem if you're equilibrium curing - I "over cured" the beef cheeks for the pastrami for 4 days or so, while they recommended 3 and it was perfect - definitely not too salty.

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I'll add myself to saying the pastrami is outstanding. I smoked it 3.5 hrs using grape vines. used short ribs. Super tender, nicely smoked and really flavorful.

So damn nice Jason. Very good work. Did you make the Saurkraut as well from MC?

Thanks! Alas, i did not. I used good real fermented sauerkraut (ingredients on bag were cabbage and salt), and MC Sauerkraut is just salt and cabbage (i think)...so i can't imagine it would taste THAT different.


Edited by jmolinari (log)

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One more bacon question. Most of mine is doing fine (2 days left before smoking!) but two pieces have a bit of light discoloration on it. Most of it is bright red/pinkish color but a few pieces have spots of a light brown. It doesn't look like mold or anything growing on it, just a different color. I'm not sure if that's a sign of spoilage (it's been in the fridge < 40 degrees the whole time) or maybe I didn't get any of the cure on that piece there or it's just moisture leaving or what. Does anyone have any knowledge on the topic?

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... and MC Sauerkraut is just salt and cabbage (i think)...so i can't imagine it would taste THAT different.

If the MC sauerkraut isn't modernist enough for you, over on Khymos Martin Lersch had a write up a while ago on Sang-Hoon Degeimbre's kimchi, which involves innocculation with lactic starter, sous vide for anaerobic fermentation, addition of yeast autolysate for flavor, and centrifuge clarification.

http://blog.khymos.org/2010/02/24/tfp2010-more-inspiration-from-asia-part-3/

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I've been doing some experiments with MC this past week. I haven't gone through any of the pictures yet, but I made the caramelized carrot soup, constructed blue cheese slices (based on the American cheese slice recipe), rendered pork fat and tried caramelizing onions in the pressure cooker.

The caramelized carrot soup was easy and delicious although slightly too sweet for my taste. A perfect amuse bouche, but I don't think I'd want a whole bowl. I did make some changes I used store bought carrot juice, didn't bother coring the carrots, didn't centrifuge anything and I added about 10% carrot juice to the pressure cooker, rather than water as a cautious step to prevent burning. I also made my own garnish, a ginger/serrano infused cream which I mixed into the soup.

The constructed blue cheese slices were easy to make and turned out perfectly. I used Rogue Creamery blue and scaled to 85 grams of cheese. I didn't use any salt because I thought the cheese already had enough in it. I also didn't have a good way to slice the final product, so once it was chilled I rolled it out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Not as easy as molding and slicing, but it was all I could do.

Rendering the fat was easy enough. I did experiment with it. I had two jars, one was a mixture of fat, water and baking soda blended and the other was chunks of fat with water and soda. Pressure cooked for 4 hours and the blended version had a much better extraction rate. Simple, clean fat much easier than other methods.

Lastly, the pressure cooked caramelized onions. I based the technique on the carrot soup recipe, but made some alterations, cutting back on the butter to about 10%. I pressure cooked for 40 minutes at 15 PSI and the onions were well caramelized, but there was a significant amount of onion juice and butter left in the cooker. I decided to puree the mixture and it tastes pretty good. Nice caramelized onion flavor with a buttery richness. I made a brioche with the puree and it turned our great - we ate half the loaf while it was cooling! The rest of the puree went into some crepes with a beef/mushroom filling, served with the constructed blue.

I will try to get pictures up sometime this weekend.

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One more bacon question. Most of mine is doing fine (2 days left before smoking!) but two pieces have a bit of light discoloration on it. Most of it is bright red/pinkish color but a few pieces have spots of a light brown. It doesn't look like mold or anything growing on it, just a different color. I'm not sure if that's a sign of spoilage (it's been in the fridge < 40 degrees the whole time) or maybe I didn't get any of the cure on that piece there or it's just moisture leaving or what. Does anyone have any knowledge on the topic?

Phaz, you're probably just fine. If you can photograph, we might be able to say more, but it sounds like an area that's desiccated a bit more than the other areas: pretty typical stuff.

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I've been doing some experiments with MC this past week. I haven't gone through any of the pictures yet, but I made the caramelized carrot soup, constructed blue cheese slices (based on the American cheese slice recipe), rendered pork fat and tried caramelizing onions in the pressure cooker.

The caramelized carrot soup was easy and delicious although slightly too sweet for my taste. A perfect amuse bouche, but I don't think I'd want a whole bowl. I did make some changes I used store bought carrot juice, didn't bother coring the carrots, didn't centrifuge anything and I added about 10% carrot juice to the pressure cooker, rather than water as a cautious step to prevent burning. I also made my own garnish, a ginger/serrano infused cream which I mixed into the soup.

The constructed blue cheese slices were easy to make and turned out perfectly. I used Rogue Creamery blue and scaled to 85 grams of cheese. I didn't use any salt because I thought the cheese already had enough in it. I also didn't have a good way to slice the final product, so once it was chilled I rolled it out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Not as easy as molding and slicing, but it was all I could do.

Rendering the fat was easy enough. I did experiment with it. I had two jars, one was a mixture of fat, water and baking soda blended and the other was chunks of fat with water and soda. Pressure cooked for 4 hours and the blended version had a much better extraction rate. Simple, clean fat much easier than other methods.

Lastly, the pressure cooked caramelized onions. I based the technique on the carrot soup recipe, but made some alterations, cutting back on the butter to about 10%. I pressure cooked for 40 minutes at 15 PSI and the onions were well caramelized, but there was a significant amount of onion juice and butter left in the cooker. I decided to puree the mixture and it tastes pretty good. Nice caramelized onion flavor with a buttery richness. I made a brioche with the puree and it turned our great - we ate half the loaf while it was cooling! The rest of the puree went into some crepes with a beef/mushroom filling, served with the constructed blue.

I will try to get pictures up sometime this weekend.

I would love to see those cheese slices. It's great that it worked out well with blue cheese.

Where the onions what you would call caramelized onions with a good texture or where they closer to onion jam?

My MC bacon comes out of the cure today and hopefully will be smoked next weekend. Looking forward to that.

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<snip>To everyone: I am currently aging the aromatic alsatian mustard to go with my pastrami (hopefully!), and, like Chris, misunderstood the directions and added the mustard seeds and the soaking vinegar, so the mustard is quite thin... What do you think is the best way to solve this issue? I could probably thicken the mustard with agar or xanthan, but I assume (I haven't tasted it yet) that it will be too vinegar-y....

Any ideas? <snip

I read further along that you have already sampled the mustard but if you have some left (or for the next person) here's two low-tech, non MC ideas...

1. Try draining it a little. Super-fine cheese cloth (called butter muslin) might work but a coffee filter would probably be better. Maybe drain half of it and scrape the residue (retained mustard) back into the rest to thicken?

2. Make another batch, draining the seeds before grinding and combine. That should get you at least half-way thick.

Good luck.

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I plan on doing a more formal write up on my website for each item, starting this Sunday with the soup. Until then, as promised, some pictures.

Caramelized carrot soup with carrot top garnish:

013%20edit%20wm.jpg

Caramelized onion puree:

05192011%20bleu%20cheese%20modernist%20crepe%20022%20edit%20wm.jpg

The onions were each distinct until I blended them with an immersion blender. I didn't actually test their texture by themselves. I would suspect 50 minutes at 15psi would give the same texture as a traditionally caramelized onion. At 40 minutes they seemed more substantial from what I can remember.

Constructed blue cheese:

05192011%20bleu%20cheese%20modernist%20crepe%20011%20edit%20wm.jpg

I'm fairly certain you could use any cheese you wanted with these techniques (I have used a variety). They give some good information on how to adjust for different cheeses based on moisture content and goals.

A crepe with the constructed blue and a mushroom, ground beef and onion puree filling:

05192011%20bleu%20cheese%20modernist%20crepe%20041%20edit%20wm.jpg

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I'm finding that in using the low acyl gellan in various recipes I have had a lot of trouble with the gel clumping right after it comes to a boil. There is no doubt that the powder was dispersed well, so that isn't it. Does anybody have experience with this or other suggestions as to why it is happening?

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