November 28, 2003

Wine from Missouri?

Carol and I went over to our friend's house for Thanksgiving. Derrick did the cooking (I helped a little). His dad provided a very interesting assortment of wines, including one from my parent's state.

We had a Chambourcin that was amazingly good and just look at that price! I've had Missouri wine before, but I don't think I ever had a red before, or if I did it certainly wasn't one memorable enough to recall.

Advance cooking/prep for the party continues. I've finished the stocks:
- 1 gallon oxtail
- 2 cups glace de viande
- 2 quarts dark vegetable
- 1 quart vegetable demiglace
- 2 quarts light chicken
- 2 quarts light vegetable

On Sunday Derrick is coming over to help make:
- crab bisque base
- crab butter
Bisque is a rich soup that you make by crushing the shells of the shellfish (lobster, shrimp, crayfish, and crab are all common to use). It is thickened by rice that has been long-cooked and also then ground. The whole mixture is strained through a very fine mesh. At this point, the base can be safely frozen.

The shells are then ground (in a Kitchenaid via the paddle attachment) with butter and the butter melted/heated for about 45 minutes -- it turns a very bright orange/red color. Water is added and the mixture again strained. Placed in the fridge, the butter rises to the surface and solidifies where it can be taken off and frozen.

For service the bisque base is re-heated and heavy cream added. The crab butter is then whisked in as well.

Bisque wins the contest for "most creative use of kitchen equiptment" by a long margin. It also makes an enormous mess. Not that difficult, just messy. Did I mention that it starts with live crabs? Certainly one of those things to get out of the way prior to a real day of cooking.

- sun dried tomato gnocchi
- spinach gnocchi
- butternut squash gnocchi
All three of these are the same basic potato and flour mixture with various flavorings/colorings added. We'll form them up and freeze them raw. For cooking, we will boil them and shock them in ice water a few hours prior to service (with a light coating of oil to keep them from sticking). For service they will be re-heated in butter with some sage leaves added.

I almost always have a stuff/filled type pasta on the menu. They are easy to make ahead. Because of this so you can be creative/fancy with them without adding workload the day of the party. I actually find they tend to cook better from a frozen state. They also are easy to make flavorful and keep them vegetarian.

- foie gras terrine
I've got the foie already. You can buy it cryovaced in a frozen form -- most producers flash freeze and cryovac a pretty decent percentage of their product. Butchers get it in this frozen state and you can ask for them to give you one that is still frozen, or to order some if they don't have it already. In the month leading up to the party I ask at high-end supermarkets and when they have it frozen I pick it up. I have it defrosting in the fridge right now.

Derrick has never cleaned foie before, so this should be fun. It is a weird substance and between the newness of it and how expensive one knows it is, can be a bit off-putting at first. But it is actually very forgiving, especially when the end product is going into a terrine. I usually wear latex gloves for this, which helps with the slippery nature of the foie, and also because you are going to cook it very rare. Duck itself is not a large carrier of salmonella. However, I like to avoid transfering anything from myself onto the meat.

The terrine itself is simple. The foie (after being cleaned and sliced) is sprinkled with salt, pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and cognac. It is layed into the terrine mold with a line of truffle wedges down the middle. Baked in a water bath at 250 for around 20-25 minutes. The internal temperature gets to around 110-120 -- although I usually go by the sight of the melted fat. The fat is poured off and reserved. The terrine is then pressed in the mold with a board and a brick and placed thus into the fridge. Once it has firmed back up, the reserved fat is re-heated and poured on top to seal the terrine. I then wrap the entire thing in several layers of film wrap. The terrine needs to rest a few days at least in the fridge, and can easily keep for multiple weeks with the fat-seal in place. Making it 6 days ahead is no problem.

For service, one simply runs a knife around the edges, unmolds, removes the fat (which one saves for later use in making potatoes!) and slices like a meatloaf. Okay, that's probably not the proper comparison...

We'll probably do the foie first. I don't want to flavor the terrine with any stray crab bits, and I also want to avoid cross contamination that way (both from a sanitary and possible alergic standpoint). The crab will be next followed by a complete wash-down of the kitchen, and then the gnocchi last because it is the easiest -- plus the potatoes can bake while we are working on the bisque.

Posted by dowdy at November 28, 2003 07:39 AM