25 May 2010

Technique: Deglazing

This is what we came up with at Food Lab 2:

Whatever your meat is, scallopini it.

Heat about 1 Tbsp. of butter in a heavy skillet

Lots of recipes tell you to go half-and-half with olive oil, but don't.  All butter is better. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

Sear your meat 1 min each side and remove to a hot plate

Too rare?  No way - and remember that it's going to keep cooking once you get it off the fire.

Toss in 1-2 Tbsp. finely minced allium

Which one?  As we discovered, whatever you have on hand (shallots, onions, leeks, scallions, garlic, whatever) - but the KEY is that it be finely minced.

Deglaze with cheap red wine or brandy 

How much?  Enough to get the fond up from the pan.  A few Tbsp. up to 1/2 c.

Add your stock

You do have good homemade stock handy, right?  How much?  Well, how many people are you feeding and how thick do you want the sauce?  The more you reduce, the thicker the sauce.

Strain the sauce through a chinois

You don't have to strain the sauce, but it's a nice touch.

Pour the sauce over the meat and enjoy!

22 May 2010

Recipe: May Duck

This was an on-the-fly invention of Mad Kitchen Scientist, so quantities are all pretty much to taste:

Start with duck breast crusted with:

1/2 Tbsp. palm sugar
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced ginger

Brown in a hot pan

Deglaze with rice wine (Hua Tiao)

Make a pan sauce using sriracha, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce to taste

I literally can't even tell you how good this was.  And we ate it after having consumed about 2 lb. of beef a person, so not only were we not hungry, we were already stuffed.

20 May 2010

Recipe: Mint Julep

OK, first let me point out that the pursuit of the perfect mint julep recipe is one of Chef Spouse's major life goals.

That said, there is a (relatively) simple way to make a really fine julep.  Ready?

Put 4 or so good sized ice cubes in an old fashioned glass and set aside

Combine in a metal cocktail shaker

6-10 leaves of fresh mint (preferably Kentucky Colonel)
1 tsp. sugar
3 oz. bourbon (I prefer Woodford Reserve for juleps)
6 or so good sized ice cubes

Shake REALLY vigorously - you're trying to dissolve the sugar and pulverize the mint

Strain into the old fashioned glass

Top with club soda

HOWEVER, you can get a lot more complicated (if you want to)

Chef Spouse's Nearly Perfect Julep

1 stalk of mint - strip off the large leaves at the bottom, leaving a tuft of leaves at the top

In your julep glass,  muddle:

6 large leaves of mint
2 tsp. sugar
3 oz. bourbon (Maker's Mark)

Don't rush - you don't want to shred the mint, you're just trying to press the mint oils into the bourbon and dissolve the sugar

Fill glass with crushed ice, pressing it down until glass is full

Top with club soda, a thin slice of lemon zest, and possibly a little more bourbon

To quote Chef Spouse:  "Everyone uses a different glass - adjust quantities appropriately."

Drink with a straw

17 May 2010

Food Lab 2: Deglazing

On Sunday, May 16, Chef Spouse and I headed to Virginia to Mad Kitchen Scientist & the Executive Committee's house for our second food lab.  Papa and Mama IA by Day-Chef by Night couldn't join us because The Spawn decided to make her appearance several weeks earlier than planned.  Welcome Spawn!

Anyway, we had a GIANT tenderloin of beef, an equally GIANT tenderloin of pork, an entire duck, various alliums, beef stock, and a plan:  to discover the BEST way to to deglaze and create a pan sauce.

This time, we decided to be a little more systematic, so the Executive Committee set us up a spreadsheet to record the results of our experiments.

After taking some time over cheese, bread, pate and mint juleps to plan our afternoon, we quickly realized that we had WAY more meat than we could possibly use - and really, we definitely SHOULD not eat that much all in one day.  We decided to reserve the pork tenderloin for another application and stick with the beef.

Mad Kitchen Scientist quickly fabricated a pile of 1/4 lb. beef scallopini for fast cooking, we pulled the beef stock cubes out of the freezer, and we began:

Test 1:  butter versus olive oil
Winner:  butter, no contest

Test 2:  good wine versus cheap wine for deglazing
Winner: surprisingly, the cheap wine.  The flavors were brighter.  Which was a good thing, because we wanted to drink the good wine (Fritz Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Vintage 2006, and damn, was it yummy).

Test 3: cheap red wine versus brandy
Winner:  no clear winner.  Both were good, and we decided you'd want to choose based on what else you were planning to make.

Test 4:  alliums - shallots versus onions
Winner:  we all expected the shallots to win, and what we discovered was that it really didn't matter, as long as the allium in question was very finely diced.

Test 5: allium - garlic plus onion versus garlic alone
Winner:  garlic plus onion.  Delish pan sauce resulted.

But what about the duck?

Glad you asked.

We did one test:  white wine versus brandy
Winner:  again, no clear winner.  The brandy sauce was nutty and warm - a fall/winter duck.  The white wine sauce was very fresh and bright - a spring duck.

Important kitchen tip?  Brandy + duck fat = flash pan fire.  Be careful.

And then, Mad Kitchen Scientist lived up to his name with the other duck breast, creating something we named May Duck, which recipe I will post separately.

So what did we learn? Doing really good beef as a quick saute scallopini in butter is AWESOME.  After that, it's really up to you...