Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Demi-Glace: Part 1 – Feel the Veal

If you saw the post from earlier today, you know this video has been delayed do to mysterious, and near catastrophic audio problems, but finally we have the first “demi” of the recipe, and I hope it was worth the wait.

This is my technique for veal demi-glace, and there’s not much to it. I’m going for a pure veal stock reduction, fortified with nothing more than mirepoix and tomato. I don’t do the classic roux-based “espagnole” sauce, which is traditionally mixed with veal stock and reduced by half.

Modern versions like this forgo the flour, and simply reduce the stock until the natural gelatin from the bones thickens things up. You get a much more intensely flavored sauce, with a wonderfully luxurious mouthfeel. I also usually make a pure version of the stock without the traditional “bouquet garni,” which is a very classic bundle of herbs and spices, usually wrapped and tied in a piece of leek.

It looks pretty, but I can add any or all of those flavors anytime I want, and we’re also always going to use this as a base for other sauces and applications, all of which bring their own herb and spice blends. Basically, like to keep my options open.

Stay tuned for part two, where I’ll show you what to do with this life-changing liquid, as well as how to portion and store it for many months of brown sauce nirvana. I hope you call your butcher and order some veal bones soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 3-4 quarts of Demi-Glace:
10 lbs veal bones, joints and marrow bones
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
3 onions, cut in eighths (I did without thinking, but you don’t have to peel the onions)
4 ribs celery, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
*10 quarts water

*While the stock simmers very, very gently for 18 hours, the level will drop a few inches in the pot, which is fine, but if it seems like the liquid level is getting low, add a few cups of water in.

We're Having Technical Difficulties!

Just a little heads-up that I’m having some serious issues with the audio on today’s video. Eventually I’ll figure it out, but there will be a delay publishing the video this afternoon. Wish me luck, and as always, stay tuned!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Avgolemeno Soup – Totally Epic

Avgolemeno is one of those soups that I’ve made many times, but rarely from scratch. It’s usually a “there’s nothing in the house” type of thing, made with a carton of broth. Even in its quick-and-easy form, it’s a delicious, and comforting meal, but when you use a fresh, whole chicken, it becomes epic.

By the way, I mean “epic” as in ancient Greek poetry, not hipster cliché. Okay, I mean it both ways. Speaking of whole chickens, that’s your big decision here. If you want chicken meat in your soup, then you’ll only want to simmer the bird for about an hour, or just until cooked through.

This way you get a nice broth, and the meat will still be flavorful when you add it back in. If you don’t want meat in the soup, which by the way, is how my wife Michele much prefers it, then keep simmering until the chicken falls apart and all the flavor has been extracted into the broth.

Some recipes call for orzo pasta in this, but I like the Arborio rice. I think it gives just the right amount of starchiness and body, but any rice or small pasta will work here. The perfect amounts of lemon and egg are also up to you, and experimentation is recommended. I really hope you give this classic Greek soup a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes 6 Servings Avgolemeno Soup: 
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
3 quarts cold water
2 tsp salt at least, plus more to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely diced onion
2/3 to 3/4 cup Arborio rice, depending on how think you like it
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch of cayenne