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!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eggs and Asparagus

Ok so I have finally gotten around to starting this blog, w00t! It's been a little longer then a month to get this project started but now that it is I am going to try keep the pace to at least 1 recipe a week if possible.

The major reason for my delay were two trips to South America (can't really complain there) and a badly sprained ankle, which kept me couch bound unfortunately. The side affect of this is that even though everyone I know IM'ed or emailed me about the Under Pressure: Keller + Ruhlman discussion I wasn't able to make it due to being a gimp. C'est la vie.

So now I am back from the wilds of South America and I have two working feet so there is no more excuse to not get cracking. I chose Soft Boiled Hen Eggs with Green Asparagus, Creme Fraiche aux Fine Herbs and Butter Fried Croutons. I chose it for two main reasons, it was a very breakfasty type dish and I thought it a fitting way to kick off the "official" start of the blog.

Also, it looked like the easiest one. And it was (I think).

This dish alltogether took 2 days to put together but that was mostly because the brioche for the croutons had to rest over night in the fridge. Besides that this was a snap to put together.

Ok so first off is the flour (cake and all purpose) approximately in equal amounts:

Two fun notes about this picture. One - immediately after I took this picture I opened my cabinent and a container of red pepper flakes tumbled out, shooting this everywhere, awesome. Two - Whole Foods (at least the one on Houston in NYC) has about a 60 kinds of flour but NOT cake flour. For that I had to go to the ghetto fab Fine Fare (which is pretty awesome but not a place for niche ingredients).

So you sift this together in with the sugar and salt, then slowly cut in a stupid amount of butter. 2+ sticks for 2 loaves of bread, no wonder this tastes so delicious (and it does).

The butter is two different colors because its two different brands (had to run out to the store mid recipe, evidence of my solid planning skills). But both are unsalted.

All this fun stuff is mixed together in my awesome kitchen aid and then let sit to rise until doubled:

Then it is folded over a couple times and thrown in the fridge.

After a few hours in the fridge it is pulled out, and gently divided into two pans

It doesn't say to put flour on top but there was some left over from the floured board I divided it up on and I just went with it. It turned out pretty well and just made the picture a little bit prettier.

Anywho, you are supposed to let it rise to 1/2" above the pan, but I have a bad habit of eating dough while making bread (it's delicious, sue me) and couldn't depend on this. So I basically just let it rise till it looked about right, I feel like it came out pretty solid, if anything the crumb could have been denser but that may be because the butter wasn't quite room temperature but who really knows. This is the first loaf of semi decent bread I have ever baked (aside from one no knead loaf) so that was pretty awesome.

After a comparatively short time in the oven I am left with this:

Which when sliced, looks like this:

So you can see what I mean about the crumb but it was still pretty delicious if a bit dry, which I don't understand considering the amount of butter that went into this badboy but maybe I just overcooked it (probably). Anyway still the best bread I have made to date, so I got that going for me.

That was just for a garnish really. the actual dish was much easier.

First up was some "Fine Herbs", here you can see them looking all fine:

This combined with some Creme Fraiche (Pronounced crem fresh I pronounced this like "creme fraish" until corrected, woops!) and a little bit of water made a completely delicious sauce, you need to make this sauce for your eggs, so good and takes 30 seconds:

That went into the fridge while the eggs cooked (sorry no pics of this but picture eggs in a plastic bucket and you have the idea) and I prepared the cruotons and the asparagus. One small note about the eggs. I really think that 62.5 is just not high enough and strongly prefer eggs cooked at 64.5 but that's just me you can see the results for yourself below. Please note for this recipe I did keep the 62.5 becuase he's Thomas Keller and I'm not. In the future I would probably stick with 64.5.

I cut the asparagus into equal length spears (only 21 here since I made it for myself and two roommates):

And then cubed up some brioche, this was a pain to get small enough and I have a feeling that TK's cooks would laugh em out of the kitchen even still (that green knife on the side is one of those awesome color coded tiny paring knives for reference):

I then fried these in a pan with some butter and ended up with crunchy delicious little butter bombs. Super amazing.


So I blanched the asparagus very quickly (those of you following along at home notice I dont have pictures of the spears tied up in neat little bundles for blanching because I didnt bother to do this and just durmped them in unceremoniously.)

I arranged it all on the plate and ended up with this, Please note this is totally free form as the book does not include a picture of this particular dish, if anyone has a real picture let me know but I'm relatively happy with the plating If any thing too much sauce. I was hoping the egg would go on top of the spears but it was too soft and just rolled off so I went with it:

Long story short, this was delicious its very simple but its also very very delicious. The sauce is so basic but it works together really well and you can bet I will make this or a variation of this quite a lot in the future, highly recomended.

My roommates universally agreed so thats a plus I suppose.

I think it would be interesting to keep track of how much I spent on each dish I do so here is the price break down:

Eggs - $5USD/12 = $1.70 for 4
Herbs - $5 for all the herbs, used about 1/5th of them so = $1
Asparagus - $2.99
Butter - $5
Creme Fraiche - (not sure but I got 2 for 1 from Saxelby Cheese thanks to an impending sell by date, lets call it $2.50
Flour, sugar, salt, negligible - $1

So the total cost for this meal was $14.19 or $4.73 per person. Not too bad considering I have a spare loaf of brioche and am planning on making this sauce to incorporate into scrambled eggs for tomorrow.

Anyway one down, sixty three to go :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hell Yes!

That's right, I finally got Under Pressure and it is just as lovely as I had imagined. The recipes look daunting and complicated so I got that going for me.

The downside is that I am going to be out of the country for 2 weeks starting Sunday and I have lots of work to do between now and then. None the less I will try my best to get one recipe under my belt before I leave, we will see how it goes.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Pheasant, shallot, cider, burning oak leaves.

While I have been waiting (impatiently) for my copy of Under Pressure I decided to kill some time by practicing on a nice and easy recipe from the Alinea cookbook.

Of course it had to involve sous vide in some way, and the cookbook is helpfully arranged into seasons so I just thumbed through the Autumn section until I got to this one:

photo credit: Alinea,

This is Pheasant, Shallot, Cider, and Burning Oak Leaves.

I debated whether or not to include the photo for a couple reasons.

The first is that it I am sure that it is copyrighted and I don't know how the folks over there feel about that. I ended up taking a screen grab (and hosting it myself, hot linking is bad mmmkay) from the Aroma section of the Mosaic Website and gave credit to them; also clicking on the image brings you to the appropriate page. If someone in the know has an issue just let me know and I will remove it ASAP.

The second is that it sets high expectations but sometimes its important to be brutally honest. I think overall I was happy with how this worked out so its not really a problem, I will try to include comparison shots in this blog where possible.

So as for this recipe: it looked relatively straightforward and did not have an intimidating amount of components which is more then I can say for the majority of dishes in this tome so I decided to start with this.

The first component was what I thought would be the easiest one, roasted shallots. I grabbed some shallots from the supermarket and I have to admit that I am ignorant as to the varieties of shallots and just hope that the shallots I grabbed are the gray shallots prescribed in the recipe. Their skins are gray so I hope that is the case.

Another thing I was not sure of was when they said "shallots" do they mean both offsets in those shallots that are more then just one? I assumed it was a matter of one root = one shallot regardless of offsets.

Then I tossed them with some grapeseed oil. This oil was a nice shade of green, something I was previously unaware of:

Yeah, no clue grapeseed oil was green. I told you I wasn't an experienced cook and that was no lie.

So I tossed them in the oil and added some kosher salt and they ended up looking like this:

I know pretttttttty exciting right? Thrilling. These got roasted for an hour but to be honest it seemed like they were too soft and I had issues assembling the skewers in the end. The looked like this, after I cut them in half, it was a bit too difficult to try and cube these up neatly:

I covered those bad boys up with some plastic wrap and stashed them in the fridge for the final assembling.

Next it was on to the Cider Gel. Here is my Mise En Place for this minus some kosher salt, I'm learning people, bear with me.

That thing standing up is agar-agar, you will note that it is all in Japanese and I speak no Japanese but the clerk pointed it out so I was probably good to go but wanted to make sure.

I had no way to verify this as it appeared this package was entirely in Japanese. Luckily the back had the ingredients list, in English on a sticker, which included agar-agar (I love saying this) and called it Kanten which I recalled from a little wikipedia love as the Japanese word for agar-agar, they also called "seaweed powdered stick" but I digress.

Anyway that, some apples, some cider from the farmers market,
salt and agar-agar into a sauce pan and heated this till simmering and the agar was dissolved and the apples were soft.

These ended up smelling delicious and it tasted pretty delicious as well.

I poured this into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, it turned out that the loaf pan was slightly too large but not by much so it turned out pretty well.
Once this set I cut it up into cubes:

Yeah I use calipers in my kitchen, yeah I am a dork :(

I then put these on a small plate and covered them with a moist paper towel and put these in the fridge as well.

I will say two things.

First, these were a lot softer then I anticipated but I followed the recipe exactly so it must just be the way it is.

And two, granny smith apples are not to be trifled with, those bad boys did this to my crappy vegetable peeler:


Alright so that was super exciting right? Yeah, totally.

Now it's on to the really fun part, the pheasant. I picked this bad boy up on the internets. I got the fresh and non-wild variety stupidly thinking that fresh farmed beats frozen wild, it basically tasted like chicken, albeit 15USD$/lb chicken (shipped), so I am not assuming this is not the case, lesson learned.

First things first I have never disassembled a raw bird (yes I am a novice).

Luckily Mike Pardus just posted a great video over at A Hunger Artist which is a sweet blog I found from Michael Ruhlman's blog who of course helped write The French Laundry Cookbook which is really the reason (along with the TFL at Home Blog of course) that I started this blog, so we come full circle.

Anyway by following that video, I was able turn this:
Into this:

Counter clockwise from the top left that is: Drumsticks, boneless thigh meat, disassembled wings breast halves, one with skin, two chicken "tender loins" and the heart.

This was after I totally disassembled the bird using Pardus' method and put the carcass and bone into a stock pot and the skin and fat into a rendering pot. So these are all trimmed, I only left the skin on one breast half because I only needed one for the recipe
(that calls for a breast w/ skin, duh) and I'm trying to maintain my girlish figure.

Here is a gratuitous stock shot:

I cooked it about 3 hours so it was really some bastard susbtance midway between jus and stock, according to my friend Jacob anyway.

I was pretty darn proud of my leet skillz but some things worked out better then others. As evidenced below:

The one on the left looks awesome and the one on the right looks pathetic. Overall however this was easier then I imagined and will definitely be buying whole chickens to carve up. Thanks to my awesome food saver I can buy a bunch of chickens, break them down, season and bag them and it makes for a really quick and easy meal. Plus I can make a lot of stock at once and I save the rendered fat for various cooking uses, mostly because I like saying I render my own chicken fat.

When you render this you get:

On the left you have pheasant cracklings and on the right, in a lovely sake glass I got in Tokyo, liquid chicken fat (actually got two glasses worth from this one bird). I made this yesterday and used some of the fat and the cracklings in an omelet I made for dinner tonight and they tasted delicious.

When I first made it I called it pheasant bacon and fed it to my ravenous roommates who seemed to enjoy it. Oh, also after the water all evaporated and I was left with just fat in the rendering pot I dropped the heart in and ate it for a delicious mid prep snack.

Anyway, I packaged up the breasts with the herbs and some butter (way more butter then I would normally use when cooking a bird but then again there is a reason my name isn't synonymous with "awesome chef"). I also got nervous at this point and thought that "pheasant breast" may mean "both halves" so I threw in both along with the tenderloins which mostly separated on their own.

It looks delicious doesn't it? And here is the end result:

Yeah lots of butter. The good news, health wise anyway, is that most of that butter stays in the bag and not in and on the pheasant.

The extra pieces I tossed in another bag with salt, pepper and butter:

Which when combined with some left over Butternut Squash, Spinach and Blue Cheese Risotto and a quick mustard sauce become this dinner:

It doesn't look very delicious but trust me it was absolutely delicious and I will probably make this again soon.

So now it was time to put it all together. First I had to pare down the oak leaves and ended up with this:

I don't think having to whittle down oak branches was one of those things I anticipated when I started this project but I am sure there will be lots more I never thought of.

One thing the astute reader will notice is that my leaves are a lovely green and the recipe clearly indicates they should be a lovely orange hue befitting the season. Unfortunately NYC leaves have not yet begun to turn so I was stuck with this.

I actually originally gathered (poached?) some leaves from Central Park and even got a couple of friends to bring them to me after I left them in the UWS before a night of partying, I then met them for lunch at Black Iron Burger and promptly left the leaves there. Luckily there was an oak tree I never noticed right outside my apartment so it all worked out.

The net result of this whittling were Oak branch skewers which were quite lovely and very difficult to work with:

I heated up some oil and started making the tempura batter, after carefully weighing all my ingredients I ended up with this:

Not quite the light and airy tempura batter I was hoping for. I added a lot more seltzer water and ended up with what I thought was a passable batter. However the final product looked a bit more "corn dog" then "Alinea"

In the end though they tasted absolutely delicious. The cider gels liquefies when you fry it and when you bite in the pheasant, shallot and cider all meld together to become something truly special, more then the sum of its parts without a doubt.

The darker leaves are ones that ended up in the frying oil and I didn't salt or pepper these yet as is called for in the book, the burning leaves definitely had a desired effect. I found THAT out when my roommate stumbled in yelling that it "smells like a goddamn forest in here" so that was pretty sweet.

Overall the end result looks very amateurish but I was very happy with the taste. The gel is a really awesome touch. If I were to make this again in the future I would probably do some work on getting the tempura batter just right as well making a proper sized dish for the cider gel to set up in because they were a bit thinner then called for.

Additionally I would try roasting the shallots for slightly less time because they had a bad habit of falling off the skewer when dipped in the batter (but that could also be a result of my less then airy batter).

I didn't invest in squid service pieces because this was just a filler recipe and I didn't think it was necessary to enjoy the final product. They are pretty neat though and may be cool to pick up and play around with in the future.

All in all this recipe definitely increased my resolve to snag a reservation at Alinea next time I am in town, which is hopefully soon.

Anyway my next post may be a Meet the Tech post or more likely will be the very first recipe from Under Pressure! I am very excited to really get this project underway and this first recipe was pleasantly challenging and I can't wait to try more new things.