This time last year I started thinking about preparations that take advantage of the frigid outdoor temperatures. I made candy in the fresh snow and tried the “apple jack” method of concentrating alcohol by freezing. I’ve just tried another sub-zero preparation, gleaned from the pages of The Fat Duck Cook Book. It’s a fascinating technique called gelatin-clarification of stock.
In culinary school one of the cool-but-antiquated dishes you learn to make is consommé. Consommé is flavourful stock that is strikingly, brilliantly clear.
The classical method for clarifying stock uses something called clear meat. Clear meat contains albumen-rich ingredients like egg whites and certain cuts of meat like shank. When albumen coagulates, it forms a delicate network that traps the tiny … Continue reading.
While reading the maple syrup section of On Food and Cooking, I came across a shocking bit of information.
Even though North American Indians didn’t have metal pots until the Europeans came, they had an ingenious method for reducing maple sap to make syrup. They would leave the sap in the cold air overnight. In the morning there would be ice on top. That ice would be mostly (but not exclusively) water, so in discarding the ice they were left with a higher concentration of sugar in the sap.
After reading this, I immediately turned to the section of the book on distilled spirits, to see if there was any mention of whether this method works to concentrate alcoholic … Continue reading.
Throughout late summer I found myself craving winter food. When I was filling my rumpot with fruit and canning my sauerkraut it was twenty degrees outside, but I was thinking of the dead of winter, and the rich, warming, comforting food I would enjoy.
Preservation of food has become central to my idea of local cuisine. I’ve always included meat in my concept of preserving for the impending winter, but I recently realized that this doesn’t make much sense.
Before refrigeration, fresh meat could only be kept in the winter. Of course you could kill a chicken in the summer and eat it for dinner, but what if you were to kill a cow and not have a … Continue reading.