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...

No comments: