Understanding What Happens to Meat When You Cook It, Part 3: Succulence, Flavor, and Appearance

Meat tastes good when it is tender, juicy, succulent, flavorful, and looks good. In the previous two parts of this series, I have explained how cooking affects the juiciness of meat, the factors that affect the tenderness of raw meat, … Continue reading Understanding What Happens to Meat When You Cook It, Part 3: Succulence, Flavor, and Appearance

Modernist Cuisine Shrimp Cocktail

In the same session as Modernist Cuisine Pulpo a la Gallega, we also prepared the Shrimp Cocktail from the Plated Dishes volume of Modernist Cuisine. This preparation is quite a contrast with the traditional Avocado and Shrimp Cocktail I blogged about a few days ago. It looks very pretty and is a lot of work. The combination of beets, shrimp, passion fruit, and horseradish is original and works quite well. I liked the passion fruit ‘leather’. We were not enthusiastic about the passion fruit brown butter fluid gel or the pressure-cooked sesame seeds. The verdict? It was an interesting experience and quite tasty, but I don’t think I will make this dish again. Continue reading “Modernist Cuisine Shrimp Cocktail”

Modernist Cuisine Pulpo a la Gallega

“Modernist Cuisine” is an amazing set of books by Nathan Myhrvold and a team. It was supposed to be a single book on sous-vide cooking, but things got a little out of hand and it ended up being a 5-volume standard textbook on a modernist approach to cooking. It actually also covers traditional cooking techniques. I’ve had the books for two years and I still haven’t finished ‘reading’ them completely. When I do, and I intend to, I will write more about them. It is good to know that in the meantime a smaller version called “Modernist Cuisine at Home” has been published, which is probably more suitable for home use. That wasn’t around yet when I got my copy.

The fifth volume contains recipes for plated dishes. These are complex recipes that are fare more suitable for gourmet restaurants than for the home kitchen. Many take multiple days to prepare and fancy equipment like a centrifuge or a pacojet. I’ve used information the Modernist Cuisine books in my cooking from when I got them, but so far I had not ventured into the daunting fifth volume. When Auldo came over to cook, I thought it would be nice to finally try some of the plated dishes. He has quite some experience with complicated modernist dishes, because he’s cooked his way through Heston Blumenthal’s Big Fat Duck Cookbook. We browsed through the recipes and selected two for which we had the equipment and the time (as it was Friday when we did the selection for what to cook between then and Sunday). We selected a ‘shrimp cocktail’ and a modernist take on the Spanish (well, Galician) classic of Pulpo a la Gallega, octopus with potatoes. This post covers the octopus, the shrimp will follow soon. Continue reading “Modernist Cuisine Pulpo a la Gallega”

Crispy Cucumber from my new Chamber Vacuum Sealer

Because I cook sous-vide so often, a vacuum sealer is a necessity in my kitchen. The simple ‘clamp’ or ‘edge’ vacuum sealer (also known as ‘Foodsaver type’ vacuum sealer) that I have been using for three years is starting to fall apart and so it was time for a new one. That was a good excuse reason to purchase a chamber vacuum sealer. Continue reading “Crispy Cucumber from my new Chamber Vacuum Sealer”

Brown Beef Stock

Home-made stock is an important success factor to many dishes and sauces. It is vastly superior to bouillon cubes and in most cases also better than anything else you can buy in a store. It’s not hard to make — it just takes a bit of time. After the success of pressure-cooked chicken stock I am a strong supporter of using a pressure cooker to make stock (with the most important reason more flavor, not the shorter cooking time), and so I also prepared this beef stock in my pressure cooker. You could however also prepare it in an ordinary pot and it will still turn out great. Continue reading “Brown Beef Stock”

Dashi sous-vide

Dashi, a stock from kombu seaweed and bonito flakes, is as essential to Japanese cooking. It is used as a basic ingredient in so many dishes that it has a big influence on the taste of a Japanese meal. It is used in many soups or sauces, including miso soup and tempura sauce. Kikunoi is a famous restaurant from Kyoto with three Michelin stars that has been named after the well from which it draws the water for its dashi. We ate at the Tokyo branch, where they use dashi made from water from the original Kyoto well. That’s how … Continue reading Dashi sous-vide

Classic Ossobuco alla Milanese sous-vide

Ossobuco is a classic Italian dish from Milan that most people know as veal shanks braised in tomato sauce. Originally, the veal shanks were actually braised in veal stock with just a hint of tomato. I like this classic version, because it gives a meatier flavor. With sous-vide cooking, you could braise the veal shanks at a lower temperature to obtain a different texture. This time, I’ve used Modernist Cuisine’s recommendation for veal shanks, which is 72 hours at 62C/144F. The meat comes out with a classic flaky structure and is very flavorful but just a bit dryish, and that’s … Continue reading Classic Ossobuco alla Milanese sous-vide

Real Pizza in a domestic oven using an Aluminum plate

I’ve blogged before about Modernist Cuisine, the amazing set of books by Nathan Myhrvold et al. On pages 2-26 and 2-27 they explain how to “make your electric broiler perform like a wood-fired oven” to make pizza. I was intrigued by this, as I’ve been trying to bake proper pizza in my domestic oven for years and have had only moderate success. The problem is that, even though my oven can be heated to a pretty high temperature of 300C/575F, the pizza takes 10 minutes or more to bake and the crust will then be chewy rather than crispy on … Continue reading Real Pizza in a domestic oven using an Aluminum plate

Pork Belly sous-vide

Next to beef short ribs, pork belly is a meat that is often mentioned on eGullet as a favorite for sous-vide. I usually don’t eat pork belly, but I thought I’d give it a try and was not disappointed! Modernist Cuisine gives 60C/140F and 65C/149F, both for 72 hours, as ‘best bets’ for pork belly sous-vide. I tried both, and liked 60C/140F much better because it is as tender as 65C/149F, but much more juicy (the 65C/149F was really dry). Please note that at this temperature the fat doesn’t render, so you end up with layers of tender meat and … Continue reading Pork Belly sous-vide

Best temperature for Beef Short Ribs sous-vide

Welcome to Stefan’s Gourmet Blog!  You can find an overview of my sous-vide recipes as well as times and temperatures by clicking on “Sous-Vide” above.  If you like what you see here, you can sign up on the sidebar to receive an email whenever I post a new recipe. I’ve only known about sous-vide cooking for less than two years and have owned a sous-vide water bath for about 15 months now, but the early adapters of sous-vide cooking in the home kitchen were already discussing recipes and techniques on eGullet in 2004. I am reading through all of the … Continue reading Best temperature for Beef Short Ribs sous-vide

Pork shoulder sous-vide

I’ve made pork shoulder sous-vide before, and that was pretty good in a tender medium-rare style (cooked at 55C/131F for 48 hours). This time I wanted a “braised” texture, and so tried 36 hours at 65C/149F as advised in Modernist Cuisine. It came out very nice: juicy and so tender you could eat it with a fork. Here’s what I did. I used a piece of boneless pork shoulder with some nice marbling. The meat will turn out dry if you use very lean meat in this preparation. First I made a rub of some fresh sage leaves, salt and … Continue reading Pork shoulder sous-vide

Sous-vide to the next level: tenderizing beef by ‘warm ageing’

Wow! I was reading the amazing set of books “Modernist Cuisine” by Nathan Myhrvold et al. and came across the suggestion (on page 3-78) to tenderize beef by boosting the activity of calpain and cathepsin enzymes in the meat through bringing the meat to temperatures of 39C/103F for calpains and 49C/120F for cathepsins. These are the same enzymes that are at work when meat is aged at refrigerator temperatures (both for dry ageing and for ageing in vacuum), but much faster and (compared to dry ageing) without drying the meat. Although it is described as a strategy to improve tenderness, … Continue reading Sous-vide to the next level: tenderizing beef by ‘warm ageing’

Hyperdecanting wine à la “Modernist Cuisine”

There are two reasons for decanting wine: separating the sediment from the wine (only needed for all wines that have sediment in the bottle, usually older wines) and letting the wine ‘breathe’ (oxygenation and outgassing; this may improve most wines but especially young red wines of which the tannins haven’t yet softened). Dutch wine connoisseurs use two different words to differentiate between these two purposes: decanting (decanteren) for separating the sediment and ‘carafing’ (karafferen) for letting the wine breathe. The amazing book (well, actually set of books) “Modernist Cuisine” by Nathan Myhrvold et al. claims that using a blender to … Continue reading Hyperdecanting wine à la “Modernist Cuisine”