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MikeTMD

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 6)

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Any suggestions for a white-fleshed fish that does well with SV treatment?

I am looking for something that will not become mushy, and will have some firmness to it.

The idea that I have is to glue together a rectangular "sheet" of fillets in a quarter-sheet pan with Activa, then spread on a filling of fish mousse (made with the trimmings), minced parsley, and something like crab or chopped shrimp.  Then I'd roll the whole thing up into a tube around the size of a soda can, roll in plastic film and twist the ends, bag, bind, and cook sous vide.  Hopefully, when it comes out of the bath, it can simply (and carefully!) be cut into slices and plated.

I could always do this with something like salmon, but I'd like to try it with something leaner and less expensive (this will be for a large group dinner).

Suggestions are welcomed.

I have not tried it sous vide but Swordfish is something like the steak of the sea. It retains its firmness when cooked.

In conventional cooking the firmness property is actually a drawback as I'd have to say 80% of the time it is overdone so it would be a definite candidate for sous vide.

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Things to consider/eliminate:

1.  Contrary to FoodSaver's propaganda, maybe there is something wrong with freezing meat in FoodSaver bags.  Perhaps the anaerobic environment actually encourages lactic acid bacteria, causing things to go sour "eventually?"  What is "eventually"?  A week, a month, a year, a decade?

Just a thought... but is it possible that possibly when you froze the meat, it froze slowly enough such that ice crystals may have caused tiny (microscopic, even) punctures through the Food Saver bag?

I seem to remember reading a review of vacuum bags somewhere, and this was the reason that was given for the differences in quality; thicker bags meant less ice crystal penetration.

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That's an interesting supposition. No one has ever explained how the sour smell penetrates through an allegedly air-tight bag, despite the fact that there was no obvious loss of vacuum. But your suggestion make at least as much sense as no explanation at all!

Poltergeists is another possibility, I suppose! :-)

Bob

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Are you sure that the smell that leaks into the water isn't the result of tiny droplets pulled out of the bag when vacuuming. Since there are a couple of inches between the seal and the end of the bag, I have always assumed that the smell is the result of a small amount of liquid escaping when the bag is sealed. I have never had a sour smell when sous-viding but I do often smell whatever herbs or marinade are in the bag -- even on occasions where trapped air in the bag expanded quite a bit -- enough to know that the bag was still airtight since squeezing the bag did not cause any of the trapped air to be expelled.

Anyway that is my guess -- and it is as likely to occur with bags that have never been frozen as those that have been which would rule out ice crystals as the culprit.

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Something on sous vide isn't clear to me.

Tough cuts can be cooked like steak at about 58C/135F for a long time in which they become tender and become pink, but not overcook.

What if I want to achieve a result which is more in line with traditional braising. For instance, I like the dark colour and texture of braised veal cheeks (5-6 hours) in an oven of 120C/250F. In this way you can shred the meat and it has a different feel to it than cooked sous-vide.

At what temperature and time should you cook sous vide when you don't want that "medium rare" result, but a more 'traditional' braising result, not minding a bit of water loss of the meat?

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24 hrs at 70-75°C should do, I did it successfully with ossobuco ("falling off the bone"). At 80°C meat begins to become shoe-leather. If you have a fountain pump to circulate your waterbath, take it out when going above 55-60°C, otherwise it might melt.

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Something on sous vide isn't clear to me.

Tough cuts can be cooked like steak at about 58C/135F for a long time in which they become tender and become pink, but not overcook.

What if I want to achieve a result which is more in line with traditional braising. For instance, I like the dark colour and texture of braised veal cheeks (5-6 hours) in an oven of 120C/250F. In this way you can shred the meat and it has a different feel to it than cooked sous-vide.

At what temperature and time should you cook sous vide when you don't want that "medium rare" result, but a more 'traditional' braising result, not minding a bit of water loss of the meat?

One thing you can do is cook the meat for a long time at the low temperature, and then raise the heat just before serving to cook it through. For example, you could do LT/LT for 48 hours, then ice the bag down and refrigerate it. At this point you have the "medium rare braise" meat. But then you can open the bag, scrape off the liquid, boil it and strain off the coagulant, and then use that liquid along with other ingredients to build a sauce. At the end, you return the "medium rare braise" meat to the sauce, bring it up to a simmer and serve immediately. I've found that low-temperature sous vide meat retains many of the desirable characteristics of this technique even when subsequently heated to higher temperature.* This would give you many of the desirable LT/LT characteristics along with the "doneness" of a traditional braise (the meat might still have some pinkness, though).

* One thing I've been doing lately is buying "value packs" of chicken breast, cooking them to 60.5C, then chilling them in an ice bath and freezing them. This allows me to thaw an individual, perfectly-cooked chicken breast by throwing a pack in a sink full of tepid water for around 15 minutes, and I can then use the cooked chicken meat in salads, sandwiches, etc. One thing my wife likes is a hot sandwich made with lots of cooked-down onions, a little cheese and slices of chicken breast. I've noticed that the reheated SV chicken breast is more moist and tender than fresh chicken breast in the same recipe, despite the fact that they are cooked together with the onions for the same amount of time.

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Sam -Do you cook the onions sous vide in the bag with the chicken?

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No. 60.5C is not sufficient to cook onions. I cook the onions down in a sauté pan, add some stock, herbs, whatever, add in the sliced chicken (either raw or SV cooked, depending on what I have) and the cheese, bring it to a light simmer for a minute or so, then spoon it out into a toasted roll of sufficient porosity to absorb the juices.

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One thing you can do is cook the meat for a long time at the low temperature, and then raise the heat just before serving to cook it through.  For example, you could do LT/LT for 48 hours, then ice the bag down and refrigerate it.  At this point you have the "medium rare braise" meat.  But then you can open the bag, scrape off the liquid, boil it and strain off the coagulant, and then use that liquid along with other ingredients to build a sauce.  At the end, you return the "medium rare braise" meat to the sauce, bring it up to a simmer and serve immediately.  I've found that low-temperature sous vide meat retains many of the desirable characteristics of this technique even when subsequently heated to higher temperature.*  This would give you many of the desirable LT/LT characteristics along with the "doneness" of a traditional braise (the meat might still have some pinkness, though).

I have only done pieces of meat for 24 hours, not 48 hours (have to learn to be patient!). With 24 hours LT/LT the meat is soft, but I don't always appreciate the texture.

Is there a big difference between 24 and 48 hours in terms of texture; after 24 hours the meat I cooked is mostly 'intact', but soft. I read on this forum that 48 hours LT/LT breaks down collagen and the meat still has a 'medium rare texture'. Are you able to shred (pick fibres) this meat after 48 hours or is it still 'intact'?

I'm after a texture in which you can pick the meat and remove fat and collagen, and then shape the remaing meat into a log.


Edited by Jan Stoel (log)

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In case anybody is interested, I will be speaking at the Starchefs 2009 International Chef's Congress on Sunday, September 20 in New York City. Information can be found here.

My talk will be an overview of my upcoming cookbook (due to come out about a year from now). Chris Young and several chefs who are working with me on the book will be presenting with me and we'll do some cooking demos, including sous vide.

Note that the title for my talk given on the Starchefs web site is NOT correct - the correct title is "Techniques of Modernist Cuisine".

In addition to my talk there are two other presentations specifically on sous vide - one by Bruno Goussault, who is credited by many as being one of the founding fathers of sous vide. Daniel Humm of the restaurant Eleven Madison Park is also giving a sous vide presentation and demo. I expect that sous vide may appear in other

The congress runs from September 20 - 22. There are many other interesting chefs speaking and giving demos. Chef Sean Brock who has posted to this thread is giving two presentations according to the schedule. Maybe I'll get to meet him in person. Grant Achatz, Juan Arzak, Jose Andres, David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, Pierre Gagnaire and many other famous chefs will also be presenting.

I think that you have to be a "foodservice industry professional" to attend, and there is a fee depending on whether you are an "industry" person, or work in a restauant. I am not really involved with Starchefs, so I am not sure exactly what they mean by "professional" - I'm just glad they invited me to give the talk.

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I have only done pieces of meat for 24 hours, not 48 hours (have to learn to be patient!). With 24 hours LT/LT the meat is soft, but I don't always appreciate the texture.

Keep in mind that it has to be the right kind of meat. You don't want to cook a ribeye or a pork chop or a chicken breast for 24 hours or more. Tender meats you cook until they reach the target temperature and then serve.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the effect of cooking a tough cut of meat LT/LT will not be the same as cooking it via traditional means. If what you want out of your beef short ribs is a traditional braised texture, then I would suggest that braising them traditionally is the best way to go. The experience of LT/LT medium-rare short ribs (etc.) is quite different from what is possible via any other cooking methods. Some people like it, some people don't.

Is there a big difference between 24 and 48 hours in terms of texture; after 24 hours the meat I cooked is mostly 'intact', but soft. Are you able to shred (pick) the meat after 48 hours? I'm after a texture in which you can pick the meat and remove fat and collagen, and then shape the remaing meat into a log.

It's always a question of time and temperature. Some temperatures, for all practical purposes, will never result in a "falling off the bone" shredable texture (54C on beef, for example). You won't be able to do what you want and have a medium-rare level of "doneness." In my experience, the higher temperatures that result in a "falling off the bone" shredable texture typically neither require nor do particularly well with >24 hours of cooking. If you're not getting the texture you want, and you're going for a "falling off the bone" shredable texture, I suggest raising the temperature and lowering the cooking time. You'll have to do some experimenting to see which time/temperature gives you the effect you want.

After you shred out the meat and pick out the fat and connective tissue, how do you propose getting it to hold together in a log? Activa? I've never used transglutaminase with fully cooked meat, so I'm not sure how well that would work. Others may have better experience with that. If you're starting with a piece of meat that has pockets of hard fat and connective tissues that you don't want in the final product (e.g., a chuckeye roast), I suggest removing the fat and sinew while the meat is still raw, then binding it into a log with transglutaminase and cooking SV as normal.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Thanks for the informative reply.

I have a crappy oven with a minumum temperature of 125C/257F, and keeping a low temperature is a pain in the ass. Also keeping a consistent low temperature in pan on the stove is also tricky, so traditional (controlled slow) braising is complex with my equipment. I'll try higher temperature. I was looking for a marriage of sous vide and traditional braising, in which I'm not after a medium rare texture.

After I shred the meat (veal cheek) I put it on cling film, leaving room on the sides, and roll it. Then I twist the ends in opposite directions and you have a log. When you put it in the fridge it hardens (with the shredding I leave a small amount of fat and gelatin, which helps flavour and keeping the round shape). Take it out the fridge, slice it into discs, fry in oil until crisp and warm through in the oven.

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So long as you are happy to cook your veal cheeks at 98-100C (i.e., a very low bubble simmer) I don't see why you couldn't maintain this for the requisite number of hours using a heavy pan with a good lid and perhaps a flame-tamer.

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I have only done pieces of meat for 24 hours, not 48 hours (have to learn to be patient!). With 24 hours LT/LT the meat is soft, but I don't always appreciate the texture.

Is there a big difference between 24 and 48 hours in terms of texture; after 24 hours the meat I cooked is mostly 'intact', but soft. I read on this forum that 48 hours LT/LT breaks down collagen and the meat still has a 'medium rare texture'.  Are you able to shred (pick fibres) this meat after 48 hours or is it still 'intact'?

Others have responded, but let me chime in, too.

I think it is important to differentiate between medium-rare doneness, i.e., color and taste, vs. tenderness. These are really independent variables, and one of the really great things about sous vide is that it allows you to explore those variables.

You can probably cook a piece of steak for days at 130F, and the color won't change, and the taste might not change much either. But the tenderness certainly will.

As I understand it, LT/LT will produce two effects. The first is that the collagen will break down and turn into gelatin, giving a wonderful unctuous mouth feel, but something that is rather different from an inherently tender piece of meat, like a tenderloin. It really is similar to the effect you get with a braise, but without toughening up the muscle fibers by overheating them.

Second, sooner or later, the natural enzymes in the meat will start to break down the tissue into mush. How quickly this happens depends on the meat.

(I love the line in Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" with regard to this problem with fish: "Eat fresh fish quickly, before it eats itself!")

I cook a nice 50mm thick rib-eye at about 129 for four hours, and am considering going to six hours for just a bit more tenderness, depending on the quality of the steak. Lamb chops and other cuts are treated similarly, although I cook pork chops just a little bit higher, like 135, because my wife doesn't like pink pork.

A chuck steak at 8 to 12 hours is very succulent, tender, and with excellent flavor, more so than the rib-eye or a filet, but by 24 hours it is falling apart and beginning to be a bit soft, approaching mushy.

Pork shoulder at 12 to perhaps 24 hours is also great, but quite different from the usual barbeque or pulled-pork.

On the other hand, a nice piece of brisket cooked at 131.5 for 48 hours is my idea of heaven -- tender, but not too tender, and very tasty. Look for a recipe I posted called "OMG brisket."

I've had a couple of disasters with beef cheeks, and they aren't easy to find. In addition, they are one of the ugliest cuts of meat I have ever seen, so I can't help you there.

Bob

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So long as you are happy to cook your veal cheeks at 98-100C (i.e., a very low bubble simmer) I don't see why you couldn't maintain this for the requisite number of hours using a heavy pan with a good lid and perhaps a flame-tamer.

These is no reason why you can't do this kind of precision braising with basic sous vide equipment, without having to keep an eye on it all the time. Use a rice cooker or a slow cooker, or just a pan on a hot plate, controlled by an SV controller; and put the probe directly in the braising liquid.

I would recommend the Sous Vide Magic 1500C for this. The probe is certified food safe, and the newer thermistor/probe is much more linear at the higher temperatures than the older units.

If you close the lid of the rice cooker, you will significantly slow down the evaporation, which you may or may not want, depending on whether you are trying to thicken a sauce.

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But why? How would the dish benefit from the extra precision and PITA of using sous vide equipment when a pot on the stove gets you to the same place? I can't believe that there's a meaningful benefit to be gained at regulating the temperature to whatever degree it could be controlled by a SVM unit when the temperature is >90C. I mean, it's not rocket science to take a pan up to a gentle almost-simmer on the stove and then turn down the burner and leave the pot on the stove with a cover for 3-5 hours.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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I think the issue of braising vs. sous vide has an implied question. - Is there anything to be discovered or gained in taste ( on certain meats) by using the SV equipment at temperatures hovering around 180F? There was some discussion - not sure it was in this forum - about the "occasional bubble" simmer, which was supposed to be around that magic 180 degree area. I have never pre-browned my meat before SV, so I genuinely don't know if that would make a dish closer to an oven braise flavor at that temperature. I used 185 F when I tried out cooking vegetables, but I never thought of doing meat.

Secondary questions:

- Nathan - Is there any formula discoverable for spice quantities by either weight or time (if either is valid)? I have always tended to use about 1/3 of the amount of herbs, and way less garlic and onion powder, but now that I read that you actually have an approximate target time for your book, I am a bit curious if you have tried to quantify them in a generic fashion. I have never had a disaster, which can only mean I am staying far too comfortable. Actually, one of the things I like about SV is how good plain cooked meats and poultry taste.

- My son-in-law's family are big hunters. Anyone doing wild game like deer, elk, pheasants, etc.

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So long as you are happy to cook your veal cheeks at 98-100C (i.e., a very low bubble simmer) I don't see why you couldn't maintain this for the requisite number of hours using a heavy pan with a good lid and perhaps a flame-tamer.

These is no reason why you can't do this kind of precision braising with basic sous vide equipment, without having to keep an eye on it all the time. Use a rice cooker or a slow cooker, or just a pan on a hot plate, controlled by an SV controller; and put the probe directly in the braising liquid.

I would recommend the Sous Vide Magic 1500C for this. The probe is certified food safe, and the newer thermistor/probe is much more linear at the higher temperatures than the older units.

If you close the lid of the rice cooker, you will significantly slow down the evaporation, which you may or may not want, depending on whether you are trying to thicken a sauce.

Jan,

as I understand, you do not have specific sous vide equipment like a SousVideMagic Controller with a rice cooker or stockpot, nor an immersion circulator. You can try sous vide cooking with the simple oven-waterpot method (see http://sousvide.wikia.com/wiki/Give_Sous-v...sive_equipment). Before I had an SVM, I did sous vide with this method, and in my experience, a water pot stabilized at around 55°C (for cooking tender cuts of meat) with the oven set at 75°C or even 80°C, water temperature being within ±1°C despite oven temperature varying by ±5°C or more. For cooking tough cuts of meat I achieved water temperature of 75-77°C with oven temperature set at 130°C, which you should be able to reproduce with your "crappy" oven. With 12 hrs. cooking, water evaporation may be an issue, so keep an eye on it. With your oven at 125°C you will probably not be able to keep the liquid temperature in traditional braising in a stewpot at 75-78°C. And as you may not like eating shoe leather, you should observe what Harold McGee (On Food and Cooking, 2004, p.163) says about braising: "Never let the meat interior get anywhere near the boil!"

Have fun, and good luck

Pedro

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GPStu,

there are two advantages of SV over traditional braising:

1. You can (LT/LT) cook and tenderize the meat in a "shoot and forget" manner as opposed to repeatidly checking your stewpot and pouring liquid over the meat, and you can prepare your braising liquid on the stove just before serving.

2. You do not have to sear the meat before cooking, which would lead to some shrinking and squeezing juice out of the meat. Searing meat which falls apart after LT/LT cooking may be difficult, but you may keep a small portion of your meat apart to grind and sear before preparing your braising liquid to give it some "Maillard" flavor.

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PedroG,

I have sous vide equipment (Magic + rice cooker), see previous postst. My thought was there was maybe a golgen temperature for traditional braising with sous vide. There is a big difference between 55-62C/131-143F, so I thought maybe there are some rules for the range 65-100C.

I thought there maybe is a temperature which doesn't give a medium rare finish, but is just above it giving a tradtional braising finish, without having to monitor the temperature like crazy to get the right temeperature via an oven or stovetop.

This is because I like the broken down, fibre texture of a traditional braise and maybe sous vide could give a result which is impossible via other routes.


Edited by Jan Stoel (log)

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If you have the sous-vide magic equipment and the rice cooker, you can use them to do a traditional braise. Braising is a great technique and a great way to develop certain flavors. So, if you like the end result, I would simply do it in the rice cooker and let the PID control the temperature of the braise. No need to translate your recipes to sous-vide.

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I find that 185F does a good approximation to traditional braising texture, but I think the end product is more succulent... I've done Yucatan style pulled pork shoulder, BBQ ribs and duck confit (not reallya braise but I'll include it anyway) this way and they've all come out great...

For times, a 2 pound boneless pork shoulder took about 8 hours... St. Louis cut ribs (not baby back) took about 6 hours and the duck confit (from Moulard ducks) took about 7 hours.

I think there are definite advantages to doing these SV rather than a traditional braise - in addition to succulent texture... first is easy cleanup... and less marinating materials... especially for the confit - only a few tablespoons of fat is necessary for each leg, rather than a whole tub-full.... plus, you always end up with much more fat than you started, so you don't need to start with very much for a first confit project... plus, it's easier to infuse flavors - for ribs, only a 20 minute pre-smoke on a stovetop smoker is enough to make them nice and smoky... the same for the pulled pork...

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I had wanted to edit my last post and add that I've read that 176F also works well for re-producing a braised texture, but is said to leave the product more succulent than 185... but I haven't tried it yet myself...

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- Nathan - Is there any formula discoverable for spice quantities by either weight or time (if either is valid)? I have always tended to use about 1/3 of the amount of herbs, and way less garlic and onion powder, but now that I read that you actually have an approximate target time for your book, I am a bit curious if you have tried to quantify them in a generic fashion. I have never had a disaster, which can only mean I am staying far too comfortable. Actually, one of the things I like about SV is how good plain cooked meats and poultry taste.

There is no hard and fast rule for how much to reduce spices or herbs in the bag. SV requires less than conventional beacuse it is sealed and the volatile flavor compounds don't go into the air.

The things that make your kitchen smell good are flavors that evaporated out of the pan and are now in the air. It does make the kitchen smell great but you lose the flavor in the food which is generally more important than kitchen ambience.

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      + + + + +

      John M. Sconzo, M.D., aka docsconz, is an anesthesiologist practicing in upstate New York. He grew up in Brooklyn in an Italian-American home, in which food was an important component of family life. It still is. His passions include good food, wine and travel. John's gastronomic interests in upstate northeastern New York involve finding top-notch local producers of ingredients and those who use them well. A dedicated amateur, John has no plans to ditch his current career for one in the food industry. Host, New York.
    • By docsconz
      About Jose Andres
       
      Throughout his career, Jose’s vision and imaginative creations have drawn the praise of the public, the press and his peers. José has received awards and recognition from Food Arts, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, the James Beard Foundation, Wine Spectator, and Wine Advocate. In addition, José has been featured in leading food magazines such as Gourmet as well as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Good Morning America, Fox Sunday Morning News with Chris Wallace, the Food Network, and USA Today.
       
      Widely acknowledged as the premiere Spanish chef cooking in America, José is a developer and Conference Chairman for the upcoming Worlds of Flavor Conference on Spain and the World Table at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, November 2 – 5, 2006.
       
      In 1993, Jose moved to Washington, DC, to head the kitchen at Jaleo. From there, Jose took on executive chef responsibilities at neighboring Café Atlantico and later Zaytinya. In July of 2003, Jose embarked on his most adventurous project to date with the opening of the minibar by jose andres at Cafe Atlantico. A six-seat restaurant within a restaurant, minibar by jose andres continues to attract international attention with its innovative tasting menu. In the fall of 2004, Jose opened a third Jaleo and Oyamel, an authentic Mexican small plates restaurant and launched the THINKfoodTANK, an institution devoted to the research and development of ideas about food, all with a view toward their practical applications in the kitchen.
       
      Every week, millions of Spaniards invite Jose into their home where he is the host and producer of “Vamos a cocinar”, a food program on Television Española (TVE), Spanish national television. The program airs in the United States and Latin America on TVE Internacional.
       
      Jose released his first cookbook this year, first published in English, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (published in the United States by Clarkson Potter) and shortly after in Spanish, Los fogones de José Andrés (published by Planeta). The book is an homage to Spanish cooking and to tapas, one of Spain's gifts to the world of good cooking.
       
      Jose Andres is passionate, intelligent, dedicated, witty and a fan of FC Barcelona.
       
      Jose has been a member of the eGullet Society since 2004.
       
      More on Jose Andres in the eG Forums:
      Cooking with "Tapas" by Jose Andres
      Vamos a Cocinar - cooking show with Jose Andres
      Jaleo
      José Andrés' Minibar
      Zaytinya
      Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Crystal City
      Cafe Atlantico
       
      Jose Andres recipes from Tapas in RecipeGullet:
      Potatoes Rioja-Style with Chorizo (Patatas a la Riojana)
      Moorish-Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew
      Squid with Caramelized Onions
    • By gibbs
      With Modernist Cuisine I waited a couple of years and ended up with a copy from the 6th printing run the advantage of this was that all errors picked up in the erratta had been corrected in the print copy.  I am looking to get modernist bread soon and wondered if someone had purchased it recently to check or if someone knew of hand if they have printed any additional corrected runs 
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