Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wanna go pro?

There are many differences between the home chef and the restaurant chef. Sure, many people think they are that good, fantasizing that their skills could quickly and seamlessly be transferred from their kitchen to that of a busy restaurant. Unfortunately, this is simply untrue for even the finest dinner party host.
There is no denying that restaurant food just tastes different, but there are certain tricks of the trade handed down from the likes of Escoffier (among others) that can make your next dinner party taste like the real deal.

Emulsify, Emulsify, Emulsify
This technique is used for things that most people buy or make by mixing water and powder (hollandaise, mayonnaise). Emulsification is a mixture of two liquids that don't normally combine smoothly, like oil and vinegar. In order to emulsify, you must slowly (and this can mean drop by drop or very slow stream) add one ingredient to the other while constantly and rapidly whisking or mixing. This disperses one into the other properly, resulting in a thick and satiny product. How to incorporate this at home? Why not serve perfectly steamed asparagus with a homemade aioli?
You'll need
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon dijon
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
salt and pepper

Crush garlic with your knife, add salt and smear on your cutting board with the side of your chef knife until it is like a paste.
Make a nest of two dry tea towels and place a mixing bowl in it. You should be able to whisk with one hand and pour in oil with the other while the bowl remains steady.
In the bowl, mix the egg yolk and Dijon with a large whisk. When well mixed, start adding the oil bit by bit so it doesn't split (If you see it starting to split, stop adding oil and keep whisking until properly emulsified).
Once you have added about a half cup of the oil, you can start speeding up the process, pouring in the thin but steady stream.
After all the oil has been added, mix in the lemon juice, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

1 comment:

gil said...

sounds tasty. i like the emulsification tactics... i'll remember this when i make salad dressing!