Thursday, June 27, 2013

Potato Chip Spanish Tortilla

Potato Chip Spanish Tortilla
Your traditional Spanish tortilla is made by taking sliced potatoes that were cooked in oil and basically making a frittata that you have to flip over half way through out of some perverse Spanish desire to see you get eggs and potatoes all over your kitchen. I've tried to make one in the past without any success (hence the slight tinge of bitterness you are detecting). The difference here is not any kind of innovation in the dastardly tortilla flipping, but using potato chips instead of cooking your own potatoes... which sounds pretty crazy, but also pretty genius. The technique was first put out there by Ferran Adria (hence the genius part) but I only heard about it when Kenji posted his Salt and Vinegar Potato Chip Spanish Tortilla recipe, which takes the crazy!? crazy like a fox! vibe to a whole 'nother level.

I basically did Kenji's recipe except instead of using "kettle style" potato chips I used thin ones (Lay's) like Ferran Adria's recipe calls for. With the thin chips you end up not being able to tell potato chips were ever involved... they taste like very thin cooked potatoes, which I found fairly amazing. Whether the kettle chips hold up well enough to be a distinctively different experience... I can't say... but the recipe is so easy I'm certainly not opposed to further testing. I will note that with Lay's Salt and Vinegar chips I didn't really detect much vinegar flavor... so I'm not so sure that aspect has much merit, but presumably that varies by chip.

Given the picture above, I obviously also had significantly more success flipping the tortilla this time... just by using a lid that was several inches larger in diameter than the pan I was using... though I still did make a mess (thanks to oil and uncooked eggs) and I continue to fail to understand why we can't just use the broiler to cook the top. Isn't that what it's for? Sigh.

But anyway... the potato chip thing is pretty cool and worth trying. Definitely makes the Spanish tortilla into an even quicker last minute cooking option.

As a meta-note: I apologize for the lack of posting lately. My cooking has been pretty uninspired and my photography poor over the last couple of weeks, but I feel like I am turning a corner and have some good stuff planned.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sous Vide Burgers

Sous Vide Burgers with Zucchini Pickles

Burgers are perhaps the easiest thing in the world to sous vide... they only take 30 minutes at temperature to cook through, so you can easily do them in a beer cooler... and then it's 45 seconds per side to get your crispy crust and melt your cheese and you're done. So not much of a recipe here, but some tips instead. Kenji says not to use any added fat like butter (dilutes the flavor) during the sous vide process, but that aromatics can go in the bag with the meat (like garlic and parsley) for a little added flavor. Thus I made roughly 6 ounce patties and seasoned them liberally with salt and pepper and then put them with some sliced garlic in cheap little sandwich bags, instead of those hand pump bags, to save a little money. Then I just dunked them in a bowl of water as I sealed them up to force out the air. While this helps keep the burgers from getting overly squished by the vacuum pressure, they're going to have a lot more air in them (thanks to the ground meat) than a steak or chicken breast sealed up with this method. This makes them a bit more buoyant, so you have to be careful to make sure none of the burgers end up floating on top your sous vide water bath. I had the water preheated to 130 degrees F for medium rare, and that's about all there is to it. Dry the patties thoroughly, heat up some vegetable oil to smoking, and then pan fry for 45 seconds a side. Done.

Next time I will probably try deep frying them. The argument against deep frying is that by the time you get your nice crust you'll have a thicker layer of overcooked meat than pan frying. The pro argument is that the crust is uniform around the entire burger. I also feel like it would be a lot less messy... believe it or not... as pan frying gets oil and smoke everywhere (to say my vegetarian wife is not a huge fan of "burger night" because of this would be a massive understatement), which would largely be missing with deep frying. You have a giant pot of dangerously hot oil to deal with obviously, but I don't find that to be too daunting at this point.

Something to try for 4th of July for my fellow city dwellers with no access to grills.

Sous Vide Burgers