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Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine" (Part 3)


KennethT
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Pickled Quail Eggs (p. 4•83)

This is an interesting pickled egg: they are pickled out of the shell in a vinegar brine for 12 hours (I actually went longer because I was using the slightly larger Chukar egg, rather than quail). Then they are cooked Sous Vide at 62°C for 15 minutes. The white is supposed to stay attached, I think, but remain translucent: as you can see in the photo, not much of my whites survived the process. Only one of the eggs (not the one in the photo) had a substantial white still attached. Could this be due to the relative freshness of the eggs (which varied because I think these all came from a single bird)?

DSC_1947.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'm in the midst of what seems to be either (a) a remarkable breakthrough in the production of MC pastrami or (b) a horrific, perhaps explosive, disaster. Your opinion is requested.

About a month ago, I was at Whole Foods shopping for the last couple meals before a trip to Vietnam, and I saw stacks of remarkable boneless short ribs: thick, well-marbled, and on sale. I bought six pounds, brought them home, and two days before I hopped on three planes for SE Asia, I prepared them precisely as described in the MC recipe. Having asked my MIL every day or two to overhaul the SV bags with the brining beef at the cold fridge bottom, I figured that I'd return home in two weeks and continue with the recipe posthaste, no muss, no fuss. Well, things didn't work out that way, and perhaps food science will be the beneficiary.

Upon our return from Vietnam I had to deal with a stack of issues that prevented me from catching my breath, let alone embarking on a multihour smoking project, for an additional two weeks. So, today, I finally got around to dealing with the brined short ribs. There was, indeed, muss.

First, the meat itself. Because I had to trim some of it and cut other pieces in half, I discovered that I had produced what appears to be remarkable meat, a beautiful, rich red color, each piece redolent of the sweet, spicy brine ingredients and beefy goodness both. Without the spice rub, smoke, and 72h cooking, it was so astonishing that I was tempted to slice off a piece and eat it raw.

However, having removed the short ribs from their four-week-old brine, I did not succumb to that temptation, because the brine had become a bizarre, ropy goop. The color was consistent with superb past efforts, but the consistency was very thick and viscous, as if someone had dumped a couple hundred grams of gum arabic into each bag while I was away slurping pho. I tried to bring it to skim the scum, but the brine started to stink a bit after boiling a while, and trying to skim was an exercise in futility.

I discovered this after I had made the spice rub and fired up the Bradley smoker, so I decided to take one for the team and proceed with the recipe. I tossed the brine down the drain, rubbed & smoked the short ribs, bagged them with no liquid at all, and they are now in the SV Supreme, in their first of 72 hours at 62C.

Thus I turn to the collective wisdom of the Society. From reading around, it seems clear that the culprit here is lactic acid, which turned the brine into ropy slime. Lactic acid is not necessarily a bad thing in anaerobic environments (think pickles, etc.), but with SV meats it seems to produce CO2, greening, and all sorts of off flavors.

So I'll keep an eye on the bags to see if they bloat (FWIW, the short ribs did not produce any gas while in the brine for a month), and will hope to get some advice/information from y'all about what to do if something notable happens -- or doesn't happen.

Your thoughts?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Your pastrami will probably be great. 4 weeks is a very long time in the brine, so it will have equilibrated. It may be too salty, or it may have a very firm texture. Think of what happens to a country ham, for example. The 72 hour cook time should help.

Many people age beef for more than 4 weeks. Salt water should, if anything, be safer, and the 72 hour cooking time will make short work of any microorganism present.

Is there a chance that you just brewed up something like the movie Contagion :sad:. There's only one way to find out...

Nathan

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. . . . the brine had become a bizarre, ropy goop. The color was consistent with superb past efforts, but the consistency was very thick and viscous, as if someone had dumped a couple hundred grams of gum arabic into each bag while I was away slurping pho. . . .

Your thoughts?

What spices go into the mix? That ropy texture you describe (and which was the thing that caught my attention as being a bit strange) made me think of the texture I end up with when I add too much cinnamon to my coffee or hot chocolate, since apparently, that's how cinnmon behaves in liquids, and it wouldn't surprise me if there are other spices that do similar things.

I'm also wondering about the action of prolonged contact between salt and the various muscle proteins, some of which may have gone into solution just enough to thicken the liquid.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I am not clear how heating up lactic acid produces CO2. My understanding is that lactic acid needs to be converted to Pyruvate, then enter the Krebs cycle (which consumes energy in the form of ATP) before it is converted to bicarbonate, and then dissociate to form H2O + CO2. In other words, you need a living organism with functioning Krebs cycle enzymes and an energy supply in the form of ATP to do it. Sorry for the biochemistry - doctor here.

As for the thickness of your brine, I should point out that bacterial action produces glycoprotein, which is a type of hydrocolloid. I am not saying that this is necessarily what happened to your meat, but it might be wise to test a very small piece on yourself before you feed it to anyone with an immune deficiency, or the elderly, or children.

And nathanm ... nice to see you back on here :)

Edited by Keith_W (log)
There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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Thanks, everyone, for the responses.

Your pastrami will probably be great. 4 weeks is a very long time in the brine, so it will have equilibrated. It may be too salty, or it may have a very firm texture. Think of what happens to a country ham, for example. The 72 hour cook time should help.

Many people age beef for more than 4 weeks. Salt water should, if anything, be safer, and the 72 hour cooking time will make short work of any microorganism present.

Very firm, a bit salty, but undeadly: I can live with that.

What spices go into the mix?

With salt, sugar, and pink salt: coriander, black peppercorns, mustard powder, fennel, cloves, red pepper flakes, bay -- and, yes, cinnamon.

I am not clear how heating up lactic acid produces CO2. My understanding is that lactic acid needs to be converted to Pyruvate, then enter the Krebs cycle (which consumes energy in the form of ATP) before it is converted to bicarbonate, and then dissociate to form H2O + CO2. In other words, you need a living organism with functioning Krebs cycle enzymes and an energy supply in the form of ATP to do it. Sorry for the biochemistry - doctor here.

As for the thickness of your brine, I should point out that bacterial action produces glycoprotein, which is a type of hydrocolloid. I am not saying that this is necessarily what happened to your meat, but it might be wise to test a very small piece on yourself before you feed it to anyone with an immune deficiency, or the elderly, or children.

I raised the CO2 question based on some reports I skimmed and didn't fully understand around the internet, so I place no validity in my interpretation those. Meanwhile, I'll be the taster for the healthy gang here.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I am not clear how heating up lactic acid produces CO2. My understanding is that lactic acid needs to be converted to Pyruvate, then enter the Krebs cycle (which consumes energy in the form of ATP) before it is converted to bicarbonate, and then dissociate to form H2O + CO2. In other words, you need a living organism with functioning Krebs cycle enzymes and an energy supply in the form of ATP to do it. Sorry for the biochemistry - doctor here.

As for the thickness of your brine, I should point out that bacterial action produces glycoprotein, which is a type of hydrocolloid. I am not saying that this is necessarily what happened to your meat, but it might be wise to test a very small piece on yourself before you feed it to anyone with an immune deficiency, or the elderly, or children.

I raised the CO2 question based on some reports I skimmed and didn't fully understand around the internet, so I place no validity in my interpretation those. Meanwhile, I'll be the taster for the healthy gang here.

IANAS, but I assume that it's the Lactobacilli that produce the CO2, which then dissolves in the brine. When you heat up the brine, solubility goes down, and CO2 comes out of solution. Voilà, fizzy brine. I've seen the same thing happen when I reboil the brine I use for pickles. The difference, of course, is that CO2-tangy pickles are a lot more palate-friendly than CO2-tangy meat.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Is the 5% salt for creme brulee on page 235 of the kitchen manual under "best bets for seperated egg gels" a misprint? I made creme brulee based on that recipe and 5% was way to much. I ended up using something more like 1.8%

Edited by _john (log)
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Has anyone made the sous-vide fish stock? Does the liquid (and maybe the vegetables) buffer the fish bones enough to have them not pierce the bag? I will be making bouillabaisse with some friends tomorrow and I'm currently in the process of preparing the necessary fish stock.

I wanted to do it sous-vide, but after cleaning and blanching the bones and heads, I'm getting second thoughts about the thickness of my bags. Some of the fish carcasses were quite large (I calculated that I'd need ca. 6 kg of fish bones and my fishmonger gave me frozen ones).

Am I better of doing a pressure cooked variation, or will that ruin everything with a fish stock?

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Your pastrami will probably be great. 4 weeks is a very long time in the brine, so it will have equilibrated. It may be too salty, or it may have a very firm texture.

It was indeed, by unanimous decision of all four family members, great. I didn't take photos as we were too busy scarfing it down. All I did for post-SV prep was to wipe off as much of the rub as I could from each piece -- the meat was redolent with both cure and rub flavor without it -- and put them on a plate. They were fork-tender, like braised, fall-apart short ribs are, and only a hair too salty. Nathan, I'd be interested to know your take on why the ribs were less (not, as you suspected, more) firm with the long cure.

Given that we all awoke hale and whole, I think the "overcure" method is safe as houses. It's good to know that a few extra days or weeks produces results that are consistent with the remarkable original method, albeit within goop that could star in a 1950s sci-fi B movie.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Has anyone made the sous-vide fish stock? Does the liquid (and maybe the vegetables) buffer the fish bones enough to have them not pierce the bag? I will be making bouillabaisse with some friends tomorrow and I'm currently in the process of preparing the necessary fish stock.

I wanted to do it sous-vide, but after cleaning and blanching the bones and heads, I'm getting second thoughts about the thickness of my bags. Some of the fish carcasses were quite large (I calculated that I'd need ca. 6 kg of fish bones and my fishmonger gave me frozen ones).

Am I better of doing a pressure cooked variation, or will that ruin everything with a fish stock?

I have made the sous vide fish stock quite a while back (maybe the first thing I made out of MC?). It turned out very well for me. Those were my pre-chamber vac. days if I recall correctly, so I did it with two (large) ziploc freezer bags. I didn't have any issues with punctures, but I certainly didn't/couldn't pull a 'hard vacuum' on the ziplocs (removed air via the 'submerging' technique).

Definitely worth making, I thought it was the best fish stock that I have ever had (not that I've tasted a ton of them straight though). I don't think it would be the same with a pressure cooker.

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National Starch Products In Australia - Substitutions

Need some help the only products I can get here are;

Crisp Coats - Great

N-Zorbit

Ultra-Crisp CS

Ultra-Tex 4

Ultra- Sperse M

However I can not get Ultra-Sperse 3, Ultra-Sperse 5 And Ultra-Sperse A For the last 2 I've been sent replacements which I'm told perform the same functions but are not as easy to disperse. Ok that's not that bad. SO that leaves me no real product to replace Ultra-Sperse 3 the rep at the Australian office says that Ultra-Sperse M basically has the same properties.

So my questions are as such. Why use a different brand from recipe to recipe. Can you help with substitution amounts? What are the differences between these products?

Help, Help, NathanM are you there? - I noticed most recipes call for Ultra-Sperse 3 how can I replace this product with Ultra-Sperse M or maybe another?

Kindest regards and am anxiously waitiing for the MC@home. Too exciting. Wish you'd only given a weeks notice. How will I wait till October. These books are a drug and I'm hooked.

My caramelised Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut foam was awesome on Saturday night and the kids loved it to!

Vol.

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National Starch Products In Australia - Substitutions

Need some help the only products I can get here are;

Crisp Coats - Great

N-Zorbit

Ultra-Crisp CS

Ultra-Tex 4

Ultra- Sperse M

However I can not get Ultra-Sperse 3, Ultra-Sperse 5 And Ultra-Sperse A For the last 2 I've been sent replacements which I'm told perform the same functions but are not as easy to disperse. Ok that's not that bad. SO that leaves me no real product to replace Ultra-Sperse 3 the rep at the Australian office says that Ultra-Sperse M basically has the same properties.

So my questions are as such. Why use a different brand from recipe to recipe. Can you help with substitution amounts? What are the differences between these products?

Help, Help, NathanM are you there? - I noticed most recipes call for Ultra-Sperse 3 how can I replace this product with Ultra-Sperse M or maybe another?

Kindest regards and am anxiously waitiing for the MC@home. Too exciting. Wish you'd only given a weeks notice. How will I wait till October. These books are a drug and I'm hooked.

My caramelised Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut foam was awesome on Saturday night and the kids loved it to!

Vol.

You can get ultrasperse-3 here - http://www.modernistpantry.com/ultra-sperse-3.html

They ship anywhere in the world.

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Ahh yes I understand I can get it from overseas. However I was wondering if people have information on the differences.

Why did MC choose US-3 over US-M?

The reason is that I have the other Starches. If i can learn more about the hows and whys I can use my existing starches I suspect.

What knowledge is out there? What do you know?

Kind regards,

Vol

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Is the 5% salt for creme brulee on page 235 of the kitchen manual under "best bets for seperated egg gels" a misprint? I made creme brulee based on that recipe and 5% was way to much. I ended up using something more like 1.8%

Definitely typo. Salt @ 5g/liter or .5% is on the mark.

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Made the beet stained eggs today as a trial for a new dish we're thinking about putting on the menu. Very simple, and looks amazing I think.

The eggs...

IMG_0256.jpg

The dish - a summer vegetable salad with carrot puree, fingerling chips and beet froth...

IMG_0252.jpg

Turned out very well I think.

James.

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Has anyone made the sous-vide fish stock? Does the liquid (and maybe the vegetables) buffer the fish bones enough to have them not pierce the bag? I will be making bouillabaisse with some friends tomorrow and I'm currently in the process of preparing the necessary fish stock.

I wanted to do it sous-vide, but after cleaning and blanching the bones and heads, I'm getting second thoughts about the thickness of my bags. Some of the fish carcasses were quite large (I calculated that I'd need ca. 6 kg of fish bones and my fishmonger gave me frozen ones).

Am I better of doing a pressure cooked variation, or will that ruin everything with a fish stock?

I have made the sous vide fish stock quite a while back (maybe the first thing I made out of MC?). It turned out very well for me. Those were my pre-chamber vac. days if I recall correctly, so I did it with two (large) ziploc freezer bags. I didn't have any issues with punctures, but I certainly didn't/couldn't pull a 'hard vacuum' on the ziplocs (removed air via the 'submerging' technique).

Definitely worth making, I thought it was the best fish stock that I have ever had (not that I've tasted a ton of them straight though). I don't think it would be the same with a pressure cooker.

I didn't have any large ziploc bags, so I made it in the pressure cooker. Of course, even my 12 liter model is not large enough to hold the ingredients based on > 6 kg of fish bones. Since I had mistakenly hoped that after cooking the vegetables, all the stuff would somehow fit in, I had to roughly divide everything on the fly. That means the ratios were probably off by a relatively wide margin, so the results are difficult to compare :(

Anyway, based on an old Heston Blumenthal recipe from In Search of Perfection, I used a cooking time of 30 minutes on high pressure. I didn't add quite enough liquid or didn't mix thoroughly enough, so I got a crust on the bottom and what amounted to brown fish stock:

Fischfond-braun.jpg

It didn't taste burnt per so, just very strong with a detectable star anis aroma and maybe a tad too much gelatine. So for the second batch I used more liquid, removed some of the remaining star anis and stirred again before covering the pressure cooker. Oh, and I reduced the cooking time to 25 minutes:

Fischfond-im-Kochtopf.jpg

The resulting strained stock:

Fischfond-hell.jpg

In the end, I used a mixture of the two stocks for my bouillabaisse and it worked very well. I posted about the whole feast on my blog mundschenk.at (German language, but the images speak for themselves).

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Oh, and I've got another 2.5 kg of fish bones in my freezer right now from the filets we used for the bouillabaisse, so I will be making MC fish stock sous-vide very soon. I'll thaw some of the white stock from this batch to compare. I've found some double-thick bags on the net and I'll get large ziplocs if that doesn't work out!

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This past week I've been working on another batch of pastrami: I made the first batch with brisket, but nathanm commented that their favorite cut for this was short ribs. Finally a couple weeks ago there were a few nice pieces of rib available at my butcher so I gave the recipe another shot with them. While I still maintain that the pastrami made with brisket was superb, the additional fat in the ribs really took them to the next level. It's hard to imagine pastrami could get any better than this, but I'm going to have to find some Wagyu cheeks one of these days I think.

DSC_1973.jpg

DSC_1976.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Oh, and I've got another 2.5 kg of fish bones in my freezer right now from the filets we used for the bouillabaisse, so I will be making MC fish stock sous-vide very soon. I'll thaw some of the white stock from this batch to compare. I've found some double-thick bags on the net and I'll get large ziplocs if that doesn't work out!

Have you considered doing this in canning jars? Seems like the simplest solution to me.
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