Friday, April 3, 2009

Confit of Duck Leg, Pommes Sarladaise, fried hen egg and salad

So those of you playing along at home will notice that in fact the actual title of this recipe is "Confit of Liberty Pekin Duck Leg...with frisee salad" Well I went for a local duck instead of shipping them from Cali. and I couldn't find frisee anywhere, like anywhere at all, I checked no less then 10 different supermarkets. So C'est la vie I guess, but in the end I will just make the frisee salad another time and call it complete.

This recipe begins by curing the duck legs for hours in a salt and herb mixture that you can see below:

I added the duck legs to this and let them cure. While that was doing it's thing I prepared the herb sachet:

And then bagged it up with the cured duck legs:

If you look closely there you can see that the skin looks sort of ...thin. It later turned out that as a result of this I wasn't able to properly finish/plate the duck but i don't think it really affected the taste. Once it was confit'ed the skin basically fell apart and trying to crisp it up later led to it all falling apart. Oh well.

So once everything was cooked it looked like this:

You can see the skin falling off the de-boned thighs here (right before I press them between two pan sheets to make them a uniform thickness, which was pointless anyway since they fell apart in the end):

You can see my high tech weighting system here:

I then sliced the yukon gold potatoes and added them to a bag with some duck fat and another herb sachet:

finally I soft/hard boiled some eggs, coated them in flour/egg/potato starch and deep fried those badboys:
These eggs worked out well but I think I fried them a bit too much, I got the feeling from the book that the egg yolk was supposed to be runny but it ended up being fairly solid.

The final plating wasn't great because of the aforementioned skin issues, but it ended up looking something like this -

As you can see the fried coating sort of fell off the egg, not sure how I can prevent that but I bet if I made this a bunch i could come up with something, unfortunately deep fried eggs aren't really in my dietary plans. c'est la vie.

Overall this dish was a big hit and everyone who tried it loved it. The eggs could have been a bit softer but the duck was well cooked and very flavorful, I just wish I had got the skin to crisp up properly.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lobster and Hen of The Woods Mushrooms

Woooo another recipe within a month, and I hope to get another one out Friday so things are looking good. I managed to get reservations for Per Se Friday the 3rd so I am pretty psyched about that and it makes me more excited to do this awesome project.

This was a really fun one and had a couple twists and turns. Before I began this recipe I tried to do something to make my life a little easier in the future: I went through the book and I marked down which recipes had special ingredients or techniques. I then made lists of the ingredients and mailed them to myself so if I saw some ingredient that was difficult to find I could access my email and then pick up the special ingredient and whatever else I needed.

I did that for this recipe, but I forgot to write down veal stock and the requisite ingredients for it. So when I randomly saw hen of the woods mushrooms I wasn't quite prepared and ended up forgetting about half the ingredients.

The mushrooms are an interesting story as well - I happened to see Hen Of The Woods mushrooms at Dean and DeLuca but I wasn't sure if I wanted to make it so I (stupidly) didn't get them, I just saw 25/pound and passed till I was sure. Once I made a couple of extra stops at The Lobster Place, Murrays Cheese and Chelsea Market I had gotten in the cooking mood and went back to D&D to get the mushrooms but I saw on close inspection they were in an awful condition. Chalk it up to never buying these mushrooms before but I picked out the only 4 non moldy clusters and when they rang them up they were 3 dollars! At 25 dollars a pound you can imagine how dried out these clusters were, not ideal.

I hoped to reconstitute them but after asking on eGullet I found out that S.O.S Chefs sold the shrooms I needed and I ended up just getting two clusters they were so huge (and the woman apologized and said they usually have better/bigger ones!)

Anyway long story short you can see the difference in the picture below:
S.O.S on the bottom D&D on the top.

I then set about making the stock. When I think of making stock I think "put the bones in a pot, add water, aromatics, simmer for 6 hours, skim a lot, strain".

When Thomas Keller thinks about making stock it goes like this:

Blanch the Bones
Wash the Bones
Simmer the Bones
Add Tomato/Tomato Paste
Add Aromatics.
Cook for 6 hours
strain and recook the aromatics and cook it again for 6 hours
combine these two batches into approximately 19 liters of straight stock
Reduce to 1.75 liters

That was interesting. But it was fun and it wasn't a lot of work. If I had better planned it would be easy to do the cooking during the day and let the stock reduce (on super low) overnight.

The first step was to add a bunch of veal bones and a calves foot. To be honest I did not check to see if it was a cows foot or a calves foot but it was a small cows foot at the very least. Unfortunately I only had a very small 8 liter stock pot and that was inadequate to say the least.

So I did what any normal person did and I ran over to the Bowery restaurant supply district and picked up a brand new 20 liter stock pot (and a coarse chinois and a pot lid).

So then I had an adequate pot and dumped the bones and the water in this new bigger pot along with the aromatics and tomato paste.

Then it looked this

And eventually turned into this.

After a little while, It became that 1.75 liters from a total of ~19 original liters.

I wish you could smell/taste this amazing stock, I was just sneaking spoonfuls of it once it was reduced.

Up next came the lobster. I ended up cooking the claw meat the same way as the tails and used those for lobster rolls the next day.

These guys were blanched and then de-meated, So they went from this:
To this:
At this point in the recipe the book calls for a buerre monte bath in the immersion circulator, Thomas Keller helpfully suggests that he uses 5 kilograms of butter. Five. Kilograms. Five Thousand Grams. 11 pounds of butter. At ~5 dollars per pound we are talking about 55 dollars worth of butter just to cook the lobster. I opted instead to get a tall metallic cylinder when I picked up my stock pot and poured about 2.5 pounds worth of beurre monte into there to cook the lobster at the proper temperature.

It worked like a charm.

So here you can see the cooked lobster in the bags (not cooked in the bags just vacuumed under light pressure to keep it fresh for when I was ready, it also made it a snap to reheat) and 3 shots of butter that the lobster was cooked in:

I tried to convince my roommates to do a shot of lobster butter with me, only one of them fell for it:

I believe the exact quote is "Hey aren't we all taking shots? I thought everyone was doing one, oh god. I feel sick" so there you have it, lobster butter is neither nutritious nor delicious (in mass quantities at least, I had a little sip and it was tasty as hell!

All the while I had the bone marrow soaking in the fridge, that ended up being a small sanfu because at one point I had called home and asked my roommate to read me the bone marrow section so I knew what size to get.

He read it up until the soak for 20 minutes and then sort of stopped. I of course never bothered to review that section and as a result dinner for yesterday was dinner for today. It's OK because it took so long for the stock to reduce it would have been untenable anyway. The bone marrow ended up looking like this, after it was soaked and cut:

I purposely cut some thicker and some thinner since I had plenty of extras. I ended up preferring the ones cut slightly thinner, but that was just me.

Next up was making the sauce, almost time for service!

So this is actually an interesting process because you go through all these steps that are seemingly redundant but I did them anyway because who am I question?

So the basic process is:

Wine + lobster bodies + aromatics
cook off the booze
seperate, strain
mix together refrigerate
seperate strain
pan roast the aromatics and bones
add the clarified marinade
reduce to nothing.

so I do not understand why you can't do this instead:


It seems easier.

My roommate called the marinade with the lobster bodies "demon vomit" and I can sort of see his point it looks like the aliens from Alien drowned in a purple stained composting pit:

Not something one would say posses a "robust visual appeal". However I can say that it tasted insanely good. Like to a ridiculous degree, so stupidly tasty. This eventually got combined with the veal stock and reduced to end up with this:

Which was the very tasty brown sauce you see on the bottom of this dish.

I held this sauce on the stove over low heat while I cooked the vegetables:
Carrots, red pearl onions, white pearl onions (along with the lobster)

These veggies are packed with butter, sugar, salt, water and done at 85C.

So ultimately it all came together to a package that I was extremely happy with both in terms of plating and flavor. It tasted great and now that I have a little extra sauce this is something I can very easily make again (at least untill the sauce runs out). This is a great recipe. If I did make it again though I would cut the marrow slightly thinner. Other then that it's basically delicious.

It ended up being absolutely delicious and everyone loved it but not everyone loved the bone marrow. C'est la vie.

cost wise this was a decent chunk of change:

Bones for stock - 20 Dollars
Vegetables - 30 Dollars
Mushrooms - 23 dollars
Lobsters - 61 Dollars
Total 134 or 33.5 per person

Now that was for the food if we count the fine and coarse chinois, the larget stock pot, the metal cylinder and everything else the total goes up significantly, so really at this rate my upcoming meal at per se will be downright economical.

As always you can find a ton more pictures including me breaking down a very fatty duck (unrelated) on my flickr account.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spanish Mackerel and Serrano Ham En Brioche

What's this? A new recipe? Why yes, yes it is.

I know it has been over 2 months and I have no excuse besides lots of awesome travel, a sprained ankle and general laziness, but hopefully I will pick it up a little bit and increase the pace, keep your fingers crossed.

But before we begin a quick note about this dish - it looks awful; like really, really bad. If anyone who works at Per Se of TFL reads this, I am sorry I butchered your beautiful dish. I strongly considered not posting this until I was able to redo the dish with a better fish (more on that later) but in the end I decided I am really only doing this blog for me and if I redo dishes because something was not perfect then I won't be able to see my progression and frankly I don't think I will be as happy with the final product. Hopefully I will learn from my mistakes and avoid things like this in the future. C'est la vie.

Anyway the next thing I have to say about this, is that it is in fact delicious, way better then it has any right to be and I really don't know what it is, but while each part individually is pretty tasty, together they become something sublime. This is coming from a guy who, if he deigns to eat mackerel at all, slathers it in super strong and acidic sauces to cut that oily fish taste. Yes, there is lemon in this but even just the mackerel, ham and brioche takes on a much tastier quality once its fried in a little bit of butter.

Ok so first up is the fish:

Yeah, yeah I know that this fish is already cut up, my bad, I forgot to grab my camera, like I said, I have some learning to do. Also I have to confess that I got lazy and had the fish guy at whole foods fillet the mackerel for me, he probably did a much better job then I could have

The biggest problem with this dish starts right here, the spanish mackerel was just too small, much too small, those fillets are maybe 6 inches and an inch across when Under Pressure calls for 10" long and 1.5-2" wide. I foolishly disregarded this advice and the final product was too small to handle and make it look pretty, additionally the fillets were two thin to cut to a uniform thickness which caused it's own issues.

So lesson learned, when TK suggests a certain size you would be wise to heed his advice. The unevenness can really be seen here:

The left side is clearly much thinner then the right, in fact as a result of this I had to discard the left half of the fish "sandwhich" in the foreground.

I am getting ahead of myself, first I had to put together my fish sandwiches, the meat in this case is some great Serrano Ham:

Mmmmmm just look at that delicious Serrano ham, looking all delicious.

I picked this up from Formaggio Essex (unsurprisingly this is located in the Essex Market). I used exactly 4 slices of this ham in the dish and the rest went into my mouth as classy and expensive snacks.

I took the halves, sprinkled a little Activa RM on each half and then lay the ham on, and vacuum sealed them to hold the sides together and give the enzymes time to do their thing. I fully intended to cook these Saturday night (yes Valentines day, I am sadly unlovable) but instead, in the true tradition of the unwashed masses everywhere on V-Day ended up just getting blind drunk instead, thems the breaks I guess.

So Sunday I pulled these badboys out of fridge and dropped them into my immersion circulator at 61C which seemed high but I went with it and it turned out well. Then I pulled them out and they looked like this:

Which is to say, almost exactly what they looked like when they went into the bath, but the flesh was more opaque.

While this was cooking I enlisted the help of my roommate to supreme us some lemon wedges, which involved ultimately 3 lemons to get to the requisite 12 wedges, and let me just say that lemon supremes (and I assume any citrus supreme) are a huge pain in the butt and I would probably never have done this if I wasn't forced to, but supreme we did and ended up with this lovely bowl:

Which I covered in simple syrup and allowed to cool to room temperature while I made the vinegratte, which was a very simple affair of some (spanish) capers, some parsely, some olive oil and a little shallot:

All chopped up and briskly mixed together into vinaigrette form. To be honest I was not completely impressed with the flavors here, and maybe I didn't allow them time to adequately meld but it tasted basically just like some capers and olive oil. the shallots and parsley were lost to my plebeian taste buds.

Finally I took some brioche from my previous recipe. Yes, I too was shocked that it lasted the full two months in my freezer but it seemed none the worse for the wear, so that's something I suppose. I assembled the fish sandwich and proceeded to saute it in a little clarified butter. At this point I was fairly worried that I would be serving something vile as the fish smelled strongly of that familiar oily, fishy mackerel smell, but once it was sauteed in the butter the smell just went away, no clue why that was.

I then plated it with the confit supremes, diced piquillo peppers (oh yeah this recipe had diced pequillo peppers for a garnish) and parsely sprigs (which were decidedly larger then the ones in the book)

And then I ended up with the final product, I think this is probably the best picture I took, which isn't saying much. Looking at it now on its own it doesn't look terrible but if you are following along at home take a look at the book picture and just imagine my chagrin.

In any case the end result was tasty and I think this is actually a dish I would make again provided I can get my hands on some decent Spanish mackerel as it was relatively quick to put together (aside from waiting for the Activa to bond and supremeing the lemons the whole thing took maybe 15-20 minutes max) and the results were unarguably delicious. This dish has renewed my vigor towards this project so I just hope that I can get the next recipe out before the middle of April.

I forgot that I was going to be listing prices here:

Fish - Whole Foods - $2.48
lemons - $0.60 (5 for a buck I bought 4 but used 3)
Piquillo Peppers - $3.49
Spanish Capers - $4.09
Brioche - $free (left over from the first recipe)
Olive Oil - $0.10 (just used a very small amount)
Shallots - $0.10 (again just one half from a big cheap bag this is probably even too high)
Parsley - $free (I used so little and I had a big bag I was going to toss soon anyway)

Total - $10.86, pretty darn cheap!