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Msk

Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine" (Part 2)

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Did the heat treatment make any difference in taste\texture?

I let them both go to the moldy stage, so I didn't feel very motivated to do a taste test! Right out of the 60C/15sec soak I couldn't tell any difference visually. I had expected the leaves to wilt or something, but it looked no different from the strawberry straight from the package. Next time I'll treat a few more and do some taste tests before they get moldy.

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I've made a couple dozen batches of bacon in my life, using a number of different recipes: so far, this is the best I've ever made, by a healthy margin. I followed the recipe to the letter, except that I had to have the belly cut into smaller chunks so they would fit in the Foodsaver bags. I did include both the Fermento and the Sodium Erythorbate.

The cure is actually pretty lightly-flavored compared to some others I've tried: mostly salt...

Bacon 1 - Cure.jpg

The pork belly is bone-in, skin on:

Bacon 2 - Pork.jpg

To seal up those sharp bone edges I used paper towel to pad the area:

Bacon 3 - Sealed.jpg

That cures for a week, and comes out looking like this (after rinse):

Bacon 4 - Cured.jpg

The next step is a new one, at least for me: it dry-ages in the fridge for another week, coming out looking like this:

Bacon 5 - Dried.jpg

Next it's hot-smoked (I used applewood) for seven hours:

Bacon 6 - Smoked.jpg

Rested overnight and then sliced:

Bacon 7 - Sliced.jpg

Cutting off the skin and ribs leaves a lot of trim: a bunch of this is in with some beans as I type....

Bacon 8 - Trim.jpg

Finally, cooked up:

Bacon 9 - Cooked.jpg

The salt level and flavor balance is superb: here is a bacon that actually still tastes like pork, with the other seasonings there to complement that flavor, not cover it up. It has a nice long, tangy finish that I'm guessing is due to the Fermento (though I can't swear to it: someone who has made some without should try with and see if they can make out the difference).

My one complaint is with regard to using bone-in belly: when using a Foodsaver that's quite the headache. MC team, what's the reason for leaving the bones in?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I must say your bacon is the best Ive ever seen. My MC will be here soon and this is the first thing Im going to try.

I can get great pork belly in Chinatown.

they might leave the bone on as many think bone on always tastes better.

if you had a hardware very coarse file you could smooth out the sharp points on the bones so they would not cut the palstic. or cut some double layer plastic and cover the sharp points beforehand

fine bacon lucky you!

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Chris that looks great! I am in the process of sourcing some belly worthy of the MC recipe - although it is unlikely I will find bone on. I have everything else I need, but the sodium erythorbate, which if I understand correctly encourages the curing salts to work more quickly. Does anyone know if the sodium erythorbate changes the final product? I haven't been able to find any.


Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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Chris that looks great! I am in the process of sourcing some belly worthy of the MC recipe - although it is unlikely I will find bone on. I have everything else I need, but the sodium erythorbate, which if I understand correctly encourages the curing salts to work more quickly. Does anyone know if the sodium erythorbate changes the final product? I haven't been able to find any.

SE speeds the break down of the nitrites into nitric oxide...it helps speed the cure, not really the salt absorption as far as a i know. It's probably a good thing to put in bacon that is going to be fried to avoid the formation of nitrosamines.

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Oh good god. I figured out why they wanted bone in ribs, and it has nothing to do with bacon at all. For lunch I just steamed those off-cut rib sections and ate them like BBQ ribs. Holy shit. Bone in belly it is.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I have two very nice pork bellies in my freezer, no bone. I was so happy to get them (damn hard to get here), but now I am sad at the lack of a bone.

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You can get it at Nuts Online, who will sell you "one yummy pound" of the stuff...

Of course, it has to be a pound. I wish we could find some of this stuff in smaller quantities! 4kg of belly only needs a few grams of sodium erythorbate. 50-100 grams would last me forever.


Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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Sure, but a pound is like five dollars. I was happy to see they didn't have a minimum order.

In this case it is, although shipping more than doubles the price. It does get frustrating with other ingredients like gellan gums can only be found in larger quantities costing about $50+ per pound when 50-100 grams is sufficient for most home use. Maybe I'm just grumbling because I have no more room in the pantry :laugh:. But I do hope some of these ingredients do become more accessible as modernist cuisine and techniques become more popular.


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Butcher Packer also sells the sodium erythorbate along with Bacto-ferm and insta cure 1&2. Not sure why they dont have fermento. Chris, do you know if there is a generic for the Fermento they might have? Otherwise I'm looking at Sausagemaker for that.

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I'll echo the bacon results. Mine came out amazing as well.

I smoked it in the bradley doing 4 hours of maple and 3 hours of the oak from Jim Beam whiskey barrels (you can get that on amazon). Mine was really smokey but people have loved it. It might be a little strong flavored for having with eggs in the morning but will simple crush a BLT (or BLTA) or on a burger with some bbq sauce. I did 25 pounds and already have given more than 1/2 that away or cooked it.

Is everyone buying their belly local or is there a good online source? My belly wasn't ideal, it had some pretty thin spots so there are 3-4 slabs (out of 14) that I couldn't slice so I'm just saving for lardons.

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about those Bacon Bones:

Id like more info on the cut you used. it certainly looked like reg. bacon sliced. I though bacon came from the belly ie Pork Belly as in Futures.

based on the curve of the bones its some sort of outer meat from the rib cage?

Im dying for a taste!

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I made the pasta with 1% Xanthan gum, and i can't say i was overly impressed.

The dough is dry-ish but letting it sit 30 minutes to hydrate after mixing in the egg and dry stuff yielded a nice supple dough. The difficulty came with the rolling. The xanthan leaves the dough very "slick and smooth" and it does not stick to itself very much. This means that even at the widest setting of ym pasta machine the rollers were not able to grip it to pull it through. I had to flatten it so that it was just a little thicker than the roller width.

Folding in 1/2 and rerolling to develop gluten and smooth the dough was nearly impossible and led to tears, which were unpatchable because once torn the dough didn't stick to itself.

The ability to leave them dough in piles without excess flour was nice, but certainly not worth the aggravation of it taking 30+ minutes to roll out enough pasta for 3 using an electric roller! I also lost a good 30% of my dough b/c once it was torn or mis-shapen, as i said, folding to fix or reshape , then rerolling did not give good results.

Texture was nice, but not THAT different from a well worked dough without xanthan.

Anyone have better results than i did?

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"Pork belly" is most of the underside of the pig separated from the leg, loin and shoulder, consisting more or less of the bottom half of the ribcage going back. Another, more old-fashioned name for this would be "side meat." When you take the bones out of the pork belly, you have "spare ribs." The belly further towards the back/navel area doesn't have bones.


--

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Anyone have better results than i did?

Yes, but I added more water than the recipe called for to make the dough a bit more elastic. Then it rolls like normal pasta dough.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Anyone have better results than i did?

Yes, but I added more water than the recipe called for to make the dough a bit more elastic. Then it rolls like normal pasta dough.

Thanks, i'll try that then. Did it still remain stickproof? Could you fold and fix tears? If so did it still remain stick proof when in bundles?

I was thinking of just using a normal 1egg:100g flour ratio including the whites and adding the xanthan and trying that...

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Anyone have better results than i did?

Yes, but I added more water than the recipe called for to make the dough a bit more elastic. Then it rolls like normal pasta dough.

Thanks, i'll try that then. Did it still remain stickproof? Could you fold and fix tears? If so did it still remain stick proof when in bundles?

Yes to all that, I think. I didn't have any tears, but it folded and rolled fine. I unfortunately didn't track how much additional water I added, but the end result behaved as normal pasta dough, except in the end it didn't stick to itself, and it had a slightly different (and I think better) texture when cooked.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Anyone have better results than i did?

Yes, but I added more water than the recipe called for to make the dough a bit more elastic. Then it rolls like normal pasta dough.

Thanks, i'll try that then. Did it still remain stickproof? Could you fold and fix tears? If so did it still remain stick proof when in bundles?

Yes to all that, I think. I didn't have any tears, but it folded and rolled fine. I unfortunately didn't track how much additional water I added, but the end result behaved as normal pasta dough, except in the end it didn't stick to itself, and it had a slightly different (and I think better) texture when cooked.

Ok thanks. I might leave out the oil next time too...

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I'm working on Infusing Flavor into a Liquid and have a question. I'm making Prosciutto water to use instead of regular plain old water in my pizza dough hoping that there will be a nice subtle prosciutto-iness to the dough. It's a 30% by weight mixture and I'm sous vide cooking it at 80C for 2 hours. I'll then drop the water down to about 40C in order to get it to the right temperature for my pizza dough recipe. It will sit out for about 12 hours and then cold rise in the fridge for 3 to 4 days followed by about 4 more hours at room temperature before cooking.

Now for my question, should I be boiling the prosciutto water before bringing it down to 40C given how long it will be out. I'm thinking no because it is cured but I don't really know. Anyone try something similar and care to comment on results? I've never heard of anyone infusing pizza dough water this way but I'm guessing it's been done. Anyone try infusing water for other unconventional purposes?

rg

I thought I'd share my results with this. First of all, Prosciutto Water looks pretty nasty! Not sure what else you could do with it besides use it in place of water in a savory baking dish but I suppose that was the point of it. In my first pizza I topped with Prosciutto and really couldn't notice much of a difference. With the second pizza I went very simple with just sauce and mozzarella with basil and this time I could taste the Prosciutto. Very subtle but unmistakeable.

On the down side, I think the yeast was affected. I use a multi day cold rise and Caputo 00 dough and cook at around 750F (2Stone attachment on my gas grill) cooking for about 2-3 minutes and typically the cornicione puffs out pretty dramatically but this time it remained pretty flat on both pizzas. Not sure if adding more yeast would improve this.

Overall I'd just go with Prosciutto on top and skip the Prosciutto Water in the dough but it was a fun experiment and I could see that for something where the water portion played a bigger part in the overall dish, infusing could create some pretty interesting results. I'm already wondering what to infuse my coffee water with :)

rg

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Here are some more answers:

1. LoftyNotions and others have been wondering about the best way to store Activa.

The best way to store Activa is to keep it frozen. If you have purchased a large quantity, vacuum seal it in several portions to minimize reopening and resealing. When stored frozen, it should last for 18 months or so.

It always bears repeating that Activa is an enzyme and should not be inhaled, so wear a mask and gloves when working with it.

2. dml asked what power setting we use at The Cooking Lab for our microwave dishes:

Sichuan bokchoy (6•158). The core of the microwaved bokchoy was still a little crunchy even as the darkest edges of the leaves were starting to get leathery. I hope to improve the texture by modulating the time and power a little more carefully next time. The book probably specifies the power of microwave that was used in the test kitchen (@Maxime, help?), which might help with mastering my microwave-fu. Leftover bokchoy, gently reheated in the microwave again the next day, was surprisingly mustardy and sharp and sulfurous, in a way that was not entirely pleasant. This is the least successful dish so far.

In the research kitchen, we microwave bokchoy in an 800 watt microwave at full power. Our microwave is not the variety that allows the user to select a certain wattage. If you have a microwave like ours, you can look at the sticker on the back to find out the maximum wattage. Then you can calibrate how many watts your microwave uses on low, medium, and high.The table on page 3•311 gives more specifics on microwave power levels.

Keep in mind that if you have particularly large or particularly small bokchoy, your cooking time might vary according to the thickness of the core.Make sure your vegetables are vacuum sealed completely, too. The intense steam environment created should cook even the heartiest vegetables in a quick and even manner.

3. From roygon:

Hi Maxime, could someone check the Pommes Pont-Neuf. I believe there are 2 issues with the recipe

1) The more minor issue is that I think the potato scaling should be 67% not 100% (even with the water) because at 100% the water does not seem to come close to covering the potatoes. Scaling the potatoes to 67% has them just covered

2) it indicates that they should be boiled for 20 minutes but after even 12 minutes they are essentially mush and almost impossible to take any of them out of the pot. I found just under 6 minutes is ideal, not the 20 minutes that the recipe lists. After 6 minutes they match the description in the recipe where they are just about to fall apart.

With these 2 changes the end result is pretty amazing - many people have told me that these were the best fries they have had and not much more time consuming to make than the traditional soak and double fry method.

Thanks,

Roy

We’re glad that you were able to adjust the recipe to your (and your guests’!) liking.

In regards to the first question, it may depend on your pot. If you are making a small batch in a very wide pot, then no, there probably won’t be enough water to cover them. Our advice is to make a big batch of the brine and add enough to cover the potatoes. This way the scaling of salt, sugar, and baking soda will still be accurate while allowing for enough liquid to cook the potatoes.

As for the second question, it is true that the potatoes become increasingly difficult to handle the longer they cook. In fact, we always plan on losing a few along the way when making this recipe. The age of the potatoes and their storage conditions can also affect how they perform when cooked. If, however, you are satisfied that they are cooked after six minutes, there is no reason why you should keep them in.

One more detail to consider is the thickness of the cut we use. We like thick fries to best represent the contrast of a silky interior and extremely crunchy surface.Make sure to check your measurements to adjust for appropriate cooking times.

4. lesliec asked:

Ingredient question ...

A few of the MC recipes call for a small quantity of essential oils - thyme is one I remember seeing, in (I think) one of the accompaniments to the SV pork belly (5•101). Can anyone advise: are these the same essential oils one might get from a health shop for making nice smells over a small burner or including in massage oils? I asked a local manufacturer about the food safety of them and they don't recommend 'internal use' as they're not a 'food grade premises', so are they just being safe or are there different grades of essential oils?

Yes, there are differences. The bulk of our essential oils come from the health and beauty sections of major grocery stores or purveyors, such as Terra Spice or Chef Rubber. You can always try collaborating with a perfumer to create one, but make sure, as lesliec did, to find out whether it is food grade.

5. Way back upthread, KosherDIY asked: when making potroast in a sealed Dutch oven, how can you tell when it’s done? About what cooking time would you recommend?

I wanted to try the MC method for a pot-roast (the cutaway pot under coals that the media loves so much). I have a nice sized goat-shoulder and the cast-iron dutch oven. The instructions say to place the dutch oven under the broiler element on low, but no time is mentioned. If I seal the pot with clay/dough to prevent water loss, I can't very well use a thermometer probe.

Anyone have advice/guidelines on how long it cooks for? If it's hermetically sealed, can it go for as long as a SV braise?

FoodMan pretty much guessed it when he replied:

Meat+DutchOven+Coals?? How "Modernist" and crazy of the MC team. :)

Serously though, can you not insert the probe (assuming it's an electronic thermometer with a cord and all) and then put the clay/dough around it?

Traditional cooking is often prescriptive, particularly with cooking times. Though perhaps not tested stringently, they come from years of cooks trying variations. For example, at a simmer a braise will take anywhere from four to seven hours.

Probably your best bet is to use clay to seal the oven and to use a thin, wire thermometer. The first time you try it out, you’ll want to monitor it closely, paying particular attention to the high point at which the temperature stabilizes. Follow the guidelines on pages 2•276–279 for cooking sous vide, as well as the guide in volume three. The table on 3•109, for instance, will tell you that you might cook lamb shank sous vide at 85 °C for five hours, so that provides one useful point of reference. With traditional cooking techniques such as this, a keen understanding of the technique and a willingness to engage in a bit of trial and error are really the best tools.


Maxime Bilet

Head Chef

The Cooking Lab

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I'm thinking out loud here, and would appreciate any input.

I love traditional dauphinoise potatoes (scalloped potatoes to my mum), but my wife's not so keen on the amount of cream and butter that goes into them. So I'm thinking that I could adapt some of the modernist cuisine techniques with cheese sauces to make a low-fat dauphinoise potatoes without compromising on texture or taste - perhaps even improving on texture as I've found the cream/butter sometimes splits depending on which cheese you use.

My first thought is to start with the cheese from the 'mac and cheese' recipe- but basically I'm thinking that that skim milk and a carrageenan, along with gruyere cheese and sodium citrate, should do the job nicely.

What I'm wondering is how a skim milk / hydrocolloid base would affect the cooking of the potatoes? In a traditional dauphinoise potatoes the potatoes are actually being cooked in the cream, as opposed to the 'mac and cheese' recipe where the cheese is mixed into the cooked macaroni.

So in order for this low-fat approach to work, and for the potatoes to cook in the cheese sauce, is there one type of technique or hydrocolloid that's more suitable than another?

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