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Archive for the ‘5 Days’ Category

53. Best End of Lamb

Ice-Filtered Lamb Jelly, Braised Lamb Tongue and Cucumber Salad, Best End of Lamb, Onion and Thyme Fluid Gel, Hotpot with Sweetbread and Oyster
Specialty Equipment: pressure cooker, water bath, vacuum machine, digital thermometer
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F, nitrite salt, gelatine 170 Bloom, patience
Days: 5
Dish as in The Fat Duck*:

* I think the little meat/potatoe part of the first photo is a miniature hotpot, so the separate hotpot dish is either dropped or added to the dish.

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‘Hello, this is a report of my quest to tackle the Big Fat Duck Cookbook. The horror!!!’ I wrote this back when I just started the blog without any Fat Duck dishes under my belt. Looking back I was clueless when I put the words online, and must say the horror manifested itself in areas you might overlook. The hunt for ingredients, the planning of dishes to be able to regularly update, to the photographing and sorting of photos and writing it all down step for step. Cooking dishes on the other hand, with all the other stuff taken care of, was, for the most part, not a horrific endeavor, with a few exceptions. This lamb dish is one of those exceptions, the cooking requiring a level of patience I’ve not encountered before. It may be thé Crazy Ass Recipe of the book. Three stocks, lots of brining, multiple days of cooking of several items, ice filtration, a fluid gel, surgical precision, difficult to understand instructions and more.

I had a hunch about the craziness of this dish and it is probably the reason I put off making it until I had no choice. The funny thing it is one of the most classical recipes of the book. A rack of lamb, a hotpot and a classic jellied stock (aspic) are, as noted in the introduction, classics. Cooking the components require not so classical methods though. For me another example to counter ‘foam arguments’ (know what I mean?) against modern cuisine or molecular gastronomy if you insist to call it that. Here techniques are used to update or improve preparation methods like braising, roasting, making a puree and making a stock. I really can’t do anything else than say that, for instance, tongue cooked for 2 days is like nothing else. Absolutely incredible. Or that an onion fluid gel, dressing up as a puree, is so tasty, smooth and explosive I wonder if a classic onion puree could ever come close.

Oh, I have these moments I start to ramble on and forget the post still has 40 photos to go with accompanying text. Back to the main subject of the recipe: lamb. You have to use a variety of lamb cuts for this dish: neck, tongue, shoulder, rack, sweetbread and bones. A lamb extravaganza! I started with all the stock components of the dish, which include a sauce, a consommé and a braising liquid for the potatoes.

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Pot-Roast Loin of Pork, Braised Belly, Gratin of Truffled Macaroni
Specialty Equipment: vacuum machine, water bath, digital thermometer, pressure cooker
Specialty Ingredients: black truffle, truffle juice, nitrite salt
Days: 5
Dish as in The Fat Duck:

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Pork belly is the lamb shank of the past. Incredibly popular in restaurants, but also, in the eyes of some, becoming overused like the shank. I never really care what can’t or shouldn’t be done and I would happily eat pork belly till the end of days. The first few times I made pork belly I roasted it in the oven on top of some vegetables. It spews out some liquid, an ideal base for the gravy, and with the fat content the fear of the meat drying out is non-existent.

Then I purchased my rice cooker slow cooking set-up. This was before I started thinking about this blog, I just wanted to try the cooking technique (on a budget). If you read the forums on eGullet, one of the (much loved) initiations to ‘sous vide at home’ is pork belly. I really didn’t need any convincing, pork belly was the first to go in my rice cooker (I asked my butcher to vacuum pack the belly). By ‘going in’ I don’t mean a quick dip, but a long ass 48 hours. What came out was like nothing I’d ever eaten, it felt like eating cotton candy. It’s there and then it’s not. Unlike cotton candy the meat was packed with flavor and if you trim it not at all too fatty. Pork belly has been on my menu ever since, so I was already initiated to slow cooked belly before starting this recipe.

I always feel strange expressing my love of food in an elaborate way. I would feel much more comfortable expressing my love of something like the features of Angelina Jolie, so I’ll get on with the dish and not write a couple of more paragraphs on slow cooked goodness. I started with the cooking process 6 (!) days before eating it. You first have to brine the pork belly in heavily spiced brine and rub the rack of pork with salt, lemon zest, garlic and sage.

For the belly I used the breed ‘Livar’, a quality pig released on the market a decade ago as a stand against all the nasty supermarket stuff. I vividly remember eating pork when I was young, bought in local supermarkets, and the extreme aversion to pork I ended up with. Livar is the exact opposite of this type of meat, giving you a chance to convert pork haters.

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14. Ballotine of Anjou Pigeon

Ballotine of Anjou Pigeon, Black Pudding, Pickling Brine, Spiced Roasting Juices
Specialty Equipment: water bath, vacuum machine, pressure cooker, thermomix, thermometer
Specialty Ingredients: transglutaminase,
sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium caseinate, soy lecithin, pig’s blood
Days: 5
Dish as in The Fat Duck:

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I’ve made starters, sort of side dishes and deserts. This time around I felt I should make a main course, especially since I didn’t cook a dish last week. What better than the main event of the Fat Duck tasting menu?

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7. Radish Ravioli of Oyster

Radish Ravioli of Oyster, Goats’ Cheese and Truffle, Brawn Rissole
Specialty Equipment: water bath, vacuum machine, electric slicer
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F, sodium citrate, nitrite salt, black truffle
Days: 5
Dish as in The Fat Duck:

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Sorry for the time between this post and the previous one. The reason:  a mandatory, five day cooking marathon. With other activities and writing the post it took longer than planned. Okay, let’s get on with the Radish Ravioli of Oyster, Goats’ Cheese and Truffle, Brawn Rissole. You probably already spotted the pig’s snout below, pointing up at these words. I’m in good company of bloggers wrestling with the snout and everything else on the head of a pig. See here, here, here & here. From my experience it can be pretty intimidating stepping into the head part of ‘nose to tail’ cooking. Soulless eyes looking out from the head start the intimidation and the general idea of having a head on your kitchen table finishes it off. The pictures below could, for some, be too graphic, but I think it would be foolish not to show them. Meat like this really makes you think, at least it did for me, about meat consumption: your attitude towards animal welfare and eating the whole animal instead of solely the popular cuts. This is in no way me on a high horse, just feelings that boiled up. I got the pig’s head for free from my neighborhood butcher, with the caveat of missing ears and cheeks from the bestowed head.

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