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Msk

Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine" (Part 2)

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Next up is batch two of pastrami. I'll be doing about 7 pounds this time. That should give me a week to figure out what my next modernist meal will be.

Don't forget to scale everything, including the water...that's going to be a lot of brine.

Or recalculate everything with respect to a new quantity of water so you don't have to use quite so much. The way to do that is to calculate all the % as they list them with respect to the weight of meat+water (instead of WRT just the meat). Then use those % in your formula with the amount of water you choose to use...just make sure they are covered.


Edited by jmolinari (log)

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A whole chicken is a combination of meats with a number of different properties so making a recommendation for a whole bird is going to give different results dependent on the piece of the bird you are considering.

I have been thinking about this since I half-attempted the 'beer can chicken' (2.109), and I'm wondering what people think about the appeal of roasting a whole chicken vs the practicality of cooking it in pieces. As I don't have a brining syringe I actually followed the brining technique in Heston Blumenthal's 'In Search of Perfection' book (for the perfect roast chicken) but the underlying premise is the same. (I cooked the chicken according to Modernist Cuisine's recipe, and finished it on the BBQ which added a great smoky flavour - success)

What I have been thinking about is that the process outlined by both Modernist Cuisine and Blumenthal is obviously more involved than a conventional roast chicken, and therefore it will only appeal to certain types of cooks and certain personalities. But those particular cooks who see the benefit of the modernist cuisine approach will be the ones who can also appreciate that cutting up the bird and cooking the individual pieces separately is simpler, easier to control, and will potentially give better results. So that made me try to identify the appeal of roasting a whole bird - do the types of cooks who might describe themselves as 'modernist' still enjoy the ritual of carving a whole bird at the table?

I guess my point is that both Blumenthal and 'Modernist Cuisine' have identified a reasonably involved process to produce the 'perfect' roast chicken, but if the goal is purely to produce perfectly cooked chicken then cutting the bird up and cooking the individual pieces sous vide will give better results more reliably. So the goal of cooking a perfectly cooked whole bird must be subtly different, perhaps encompassing tradition, presentation, etc...

I'm just thinking out loud, but if I'm making sense I'd like to know what you think...

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I'd hasten to add that it is not only the different types of meats that makes it tricky. It is also the shape of the whole. Try spatchcocking the bird and it is easier to cook because the heat is more even across the surface.

Other ways of using a whole bird effectively include introducing fat under the skin of the breast (by making a small incision, loosening the skin, and placing butter or some other fat underneath). You could also inject fat into the bird to achieve a similar effect, in essence this is "high-tech" larding.

In MC, they recommend when cooking poultry sous vide, for example in the Moroccan Tagine recipe, that the breasts be cooked at a lower temperature than the thighs. If you cook the thighs at the lower temperature, it has a raw appearance near the bone which is not pleasant for the diner.

The question of how to cook a chicken, whole or in parts, is however not a new one. Using conventional cooking techniques, many commentators will recommend sectioning the bird and using a different cooking technique for different parts.

I'd suggest that the move from waiters carving and presenting food in the dining room to it being both prepared and plated in the kitchen has led to virtual extinction of the carving of the bird. As a consequence, I'd come down strongly on the side of letting each of the different ingredients be treated differently and with respect for what makes them most tasty. This is potentially a "Modernist" view but is one that classicists may agree with: if they can get past not carving the chicken at the table.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Just a note about an experiment I conducted (by accident).

I bought some brisket and was going to slow cook it in my new smoker at 100C for around eight hours. After around four hours, I felt the meat and decided that it was just going to go tough and chewy. Maybe I was wrong but this is where the experiment began.

I tasted the meat and it was chewy although it still had some juice in it. Here is where I decided to follow the latter stages of the MC recipe for brisket. I bagged the meat and put it in my SV rig at 62C.

Tonight we tried it after around 30 hours.

It was absolutely delicious. The chewiness had disappeared to be replaced by a tender and nicely smoked piece of meat.

Just letting you know that the smoke then SV method is a bit more flexible than you would think in terms of the initial smoking temperature.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Had the MC ribs this weekend.

7 hours in a Bradley Digital smoker. I filled the bottom pan of the smoker with water to keep the humidity up and that seemed to do the trick. As mentioned before, the water in my Sous Vide bath got a little "smokey" after 24 hrs. I actually can't figure this out. I double bagged them once I saw it for the last 24 hours and it seemed to be fine but I really don't see how the seal was bad. It is almost as if the smoke permeated through the bags. Baffling.

I did one traditional rub and one Indian fusion rub with a tamarind glaze for my in laws. Both were very well received. I browned one set of ribs on the grill and one under a rocket hot infra red broiler and although there wasn't a huge difference I think the broiler method worked better. In particular I like the broiler because the ribs are so tender it was easier to handle them under the broiler.

One other note. When we were cleaning up I didn't notice my mother in law bagging up the left over ribs and putting them in the freezer. When I went to reheat some for lunch the next day I freaked out. I took them out and thawed them in the fridge and am happy to say they reheated extremely well. I suspect that these ribs would be just fine if you shocked them after the sous vide step and froze them for later. Not perfect, but I was really surprised at how well they reheated after being frozen.

I would love to hear how others are saving or freezing their MC recipes. I have a small family that entertains often and like to freeze meals into individual portions so that we can reheat them later when we are busy.

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As mentioned before, the water in my Sous Vide bath got a little "smokey" after 24 hrs. I actually can't figure this out. I double bagged them once I saw it for the last 24 hours and it seemed to be fine but I really don't see how the seal was bad. It is almost as if the smoke permeated through the bags. Baffling.

I'm seeing this now with the pastrami. After about 18 hours the water has become slightly brown and there is a very obvious odor of smoke in the whole room where the rig is. It is baffling as my vacuum is still fine on the bags...

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As mentioned before, the water in my Sous Vide bath got a little "smokey" after 24 hrs. I actually can't figure this out. I double bagged them once I saw it for the last 24 hours and it seemed to be fine but I really don't see how the seal was bad. It is almost as if the smoke permeated through the bags. Baffling.

I'm seeing this now with the pastrami. After about 18 hours the water has become slightly brown and there is a very obvious odor of smoke in the whole room where the rig is. It is baffling as my vacuum is still fine on the bags...

Exactly! Could this be something to do with the quality of the Sousvide bags? I have a MVS31x chamber vacuum sealer which seems in perfect working condition so I don't get how it could be the seal.

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As mentioned before, the water in my Sous Vide bath got a little "smokey" after 24 hrs. I actually can't figure this out. I double bagged them once I saw it for the last 24 hours and it seemed to be fine but I really don't see how the seal was bad. It is almost as if the smoke permeated through the bags. Baffling.

I'm seeing this now with the pastrami. After about 18 hours the water has become slightly brown and there is a very obvious odor of smoke in the whole room where the rig is. It is baffling as my vacuum is still fine on the bags...

Exactly! Could this be something to do with the quality of the Sousvide bags? I have a MVS31x chamber vacuum sealer which seems in perfect working condition so I don't get how it could be the seal.

We had several posts about this in the SV thread. It is pretty normal as far as I can tell. The bags are waterproof, but they seem to not be -here comes a very scentific term- "flavoring compound proof". When I cook bacon SV, I get the mild smell of bacon in the air and water where I have my IC in plus the water turns very slightly yellowish. When I cooked the beef tongue with vinegar sauce a couple of weeks ago I could smell the vinegar as well....


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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As mentioned before, the water in my Sous Vide bath got a little "smokey" after 24 hrs. I actually can't figure this out. I double bagged them once I saw it for the last 24 hours and it seemed to be fine but I really don't see how the seal was bad. It is almost as if the smoke permeated through the bags. Baffling.

I'm seeing this now with the pastrami. After about 18 hours the water has become slightly brown and there is a very obvious odor of smoke in the whole room where the rig is. It is baffling as my vacuum is still fine on the bags...

Exactly! Could this be something to do with the quality of the Sousvide bags? I have a MVS31x chamber vacuum sealer which seems in perfect working condition so I don't get how it could be the seal.

We had several posts about this in the SV thread. It is pretty normal as far as I can tell. The bags are waterproof, but they seem to not be -here comes a very scentific term- "flavoring compound proof". When I cook bacon SV, I get the mild smell of bacon in the air and water where I have my IC in plus the water turns very slightly yellowish. When I cooked the beef tongue with vinegar sauce a couple of weeks ago I could smell the vinegar as well....

It seems to only happen with long cooks. I had this issue with Momofuku short ribs too. A mild aroma which was actually pretty nice. The smoke smell permeating our kitchen was not as nice. It would be great to have a solution here otherwise the ribs will be cooked SV in the garage from now on.

Glad to hear I am not the only one here. Does everyone experience this?

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Whenever I cook something for a long time, it is common to get the smell of the aromatics (not just smoke) into the bath water. My bath is covered, so it doesn't get into the kitchen too much, but if I open the cover, you get a large waft of aroma. The aroma is definitely going through the bag - I've seen this happen on sealed bags, as well as ziplocks - but the bag keeps its vacuum, so the seals are fine. Unless you get special bags, most plastic bags are semi-permeable to gases... I know that many vacuum bags will actually allow oxygen to move through it (albeit slowly), and the better bags (and more expensive) have several layers, one of which being either a metal foil, or mylar, which is much less permeable. This is the same as the sample bags of Activa shipped from Ajinomoto - the bags are layers of plastic and metal foil - so you can heat seal it, but the metal foil does an excellent job of keeping out oxygen, which would degrade the enzyme during storage.

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Whenever I cook something for a long time, it is common to get the smell of the aromatics (not just smoke) into the bath water. My bath is covered, so it doesn't get into the kitchen too much, but if I open the cover, you get a large waft of aroma. The aroma is definitely going through the bag - I've seen this happen on sealed bags, as well as ziplocks - but the bag keeps its vacuum, so the seals are fine. Unless you get special bags, most plastic bags are semi-permeable to gases... I know that many vacuum bags will actually allow oxygen to move through it (albeit slowly), and the better bags (and more expensive) have several layers, one of which being either a metal foil, or mylar, which is much less permeable. This is the same as the sample bags of Activa shipped from Ajinomoto - the bags are layers of plastic and metal foil - so you can heat seal it, but the metal foil does an excellent job of keeping out oxygen, which would degrade the enzyme during storage.

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?

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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?

Yes. Not at all.

...well as far as I am concerned.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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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. ;-)

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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.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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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?

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So here's the rundown of the highs and lows of the last set of experiments, including the pastrami incident. Note, most of the dishes were concepts or ideas taken from MC, not necessarily the full recipe verbatim:

I sampled the pastrami about 28 hours before being served to anyone, and took a sample over twice the size of any that I'd be serving... after not feeling the slightest bit sick (and I don't have an iron stomach), I decided it was safe for consumption - also I knew that I had no immune compromised people being served. The wagyu beef cheek pastrami was a huge hit. I served it with the aromatic alsatian mustard, which was a little vinegary and loose because I misunderstood the instructions and pureed the mustard seeds with the soaking vinegar. All in all, still a hit though.

Sous vide braised snails with garlic puree and parsley puree. The snails were awesome - great texture. The garlic puree is very unmodernist, but rather straight out of the pages of Bernard Loiseau - you basically blanch the garlic 8 times changing the water each time, then remove the germ and puree. I added a bit of vit. c powder to keep it from browning. Time consuming, but always a hit. The parsley puree was actually "Plan D" since plans A through C were failures. The first was a parsley wafer, adapting the spinach wafer from MC. The book says to dehydrate for 2 hours, but I could only get it solid after about 12 hours, at which point, it was still a bit dense, and bitter as it's basically pure parsley. The problem may be with my dehydrator, which is basically my pilot-less gas oven set as low as possible, with the door propped open by a wooden spoon. The thermometer in my oven read about 145-150F. Plan B was a parsley meringue, adapting the beet meringue from MC. The recipe says to pipe into a 2" thick mold and bake at 195 for 2 hours. I piped the parsley meringue into a 1-1/2" mold, but after 2 hours, it was not even close to set. After 6 hours, it was drier but still quite soft. I wondered if it would stiffen as it cooled, so I took it out of the oven. Big mistake! I watched it starting to deflate, and then quickly put it back in the oven overnight. The result was a stratified meringue - airy at the top, and progressively denser to the bottom. Plan C was a parlsey air from MC, but I couldn't get it to foam no matter how hard I tried. Maybe my parsley juice was too thick, or my hand blender not at the right angle, or depth or something... I'll have to experiment more with this later when I have more time. Plan D was to take the failed Plan C in a squeeze bottle and put a drop on each portion.

Wild mushroom and goat cheese "taco", where the taco shell was made using the cornet recipe from the TK smoked salmon cones. Came out great - everyone loved the texture and flavor of the shell.

Cocoa dusted Aerated Squab liver torchon, scented with star anise, and hazelnut. I actually couldn't do this out of the book because I odn't have the konjac yet, so I found a video of Wylie doing this online. Mine was a combination of his recipe and techniques from MC. So I sweated shallots in butter, and deglazed with Cognac, flambeed, then added to a bag with the squab livers. Cooked at 131 to pasteurize (since I wasn't using them for another few days). Reheated then pureed the whole bag, run through tamis. I hydrated agar in hot water, dissolved in gelatin, then emulsified into the squab livers with some egg yolk. Cooled by blending basically making an agar fluid gel. Put in mason jars and vac'd, then refrigerated. This technique worked really well - I'd definitely do it again - the liver had a great gaminess and consistency, but since it was aerated, wasn't as intense as a pure pate would have been.

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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.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Next up is batch two of pastrami. I'll be doing about 7 pounds this time. That should give me a week to figure out what my next modernist meal will be.

Don't forget to scale everything, including the water...that's going to be a lot of brine.

Or recalculate everything with respect to a new quantity of water so you don't have to use quite so much. The way to do that is to calculate all the % as they list them with respect to the weight of meat+water (instead of WRT just the meat). Then use those % in your formula with the amount of water you choose to use...just make sure they are covered.

My calculations were roughly 7.15kg water, 240g salt, 48g cure based off the weight of the meat being 100%. I picked up a large food storage container for this, double checked with the supply store it would be safe for bringing. I didn't want to try and seal 22 pounds in a bag.

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A question for the experienced curers here. Is there a reason the bacon recipe specifies to 'brush' the existing cure off the meat before hanging it for a week vs just rinsing it off? It seems like a small insignificant step but when doing 25 lbs of the stuff brushing it off (with a spoon since that's all I had) took quite a while and made quite a mess.

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A question for the experienced curers here. Is there a reason the bacon recipe specifies to 'brush' the existing cure off the meat before hanging it for a week vs just rinsing it off? It seems like a small insignificant step but when doing 25 lbs of the stuff brushing it off (with a spoon since that's all I had) took quite a while and made quite a mess.

Rinsing it and drying it very well works fine.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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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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