Archive for the ‘Thomas Keller’ Category

The Ad Hoc Beef Stroganoff Project

February 12, 2010

One snowstorm, three days, four recipes (six, in reality).

I bought Ad Hoc towards the end of December.  With some time off from work beginning and a snow storm on the way, I chose the beef stroganoff as my hibernation project.  Keller bases his recipe on his nostalgic memories of his mom’s stroganoff made with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.  But honey, this ain’t your mama’s Campbell’s stroganoff!

Day 1: I braved the ranks of snowsterical shoppers to buy the ingredients.  Don’t these people know I was on a mission?  One neat thing about this recipe is that it calls for a boneless chuck short rib roast which is cooked whole.  This was much more economical than buying individual short ribs. You can be flexible with the size of the roast.  The recipe calls for a 2 1/2 lb. roast but I wanted leftovers, so I chose about a 5 lb. roast.

Once home, I started with the easy part.  I made some crème fraiche.  For something that’s pretty pricey at my local grocery store, this is ridiculously easy and inexpensive to make. You’ll need a clean jar with a lid, some buttermilk, a small amount of heavy cream, and time. That’s it. See for yourself.

Then I was off to make some cookies with my little nephew, work on a jigsaw puzzle, and rest up for day two.

Day 2: I made the Braised Beef Short Ribs recipe, which is actually two recipes in one:  A red wine and vegetable reduction and the braise itself.

The red wine reduction took about 1 1/2 hours, including prep and reduction.  This gave me time to  work on the braise, which meant dicing and slicing more vegetables and browning the meat.

Once the wine reduction was done it was really a straightforward pot roast recipe.  Except that Keller wraps his roast in cheesecloth to  keep bits of vegetable from sticking to it.  I’ll skip this step next time.  Sometimes his fussiness is a little over the top for me.

This was the point where I discovered an error in the book.  The instructions to make a parchment lid to cover the braise were missing a step.  What’s really amazing is that this technique is used in multiple recipes and that the full page of step-by-step photos accompanying the instructions were also missing the step.  You can read more about it here.

I fell back to Alton Brown’s instructions, made my parchment lid, braised, and refrigerated for day three.


Day 3: Home stretch, right? It slipped my mind that I was going to make the pappardelle, so I got a late start on that.  So I’m cranking and cranking and cranking out pasta.  I always wonder why I ever think it’s a good idea to make homemade pasta.  But when I taste it, I realize it IS worth it . . . when I have the time.

The mushroom cream sauce has the most concentrated mushroom flavor I’ve ever tasted.  It is so wonderful.  The base of the sauce is 1 lb. of mushrooms simmered with cream and aromatics for about 35 minutes.  Another pound of sliced mushrooms is sauteed separately and added at the end.

It’s also a very versatile sauce.  I would  make the sauce, without the beef, to serve over pasta.  It would also pair with chicken and pork; how about Eggs Keller, with poached eggs and sausage on an English muffin, topped with this cream sauce?

Anyway, enough daydreaming.  To complete the stroganoff, the chilled beef is cubed and pan-fried to caramelize one side, turned, and then finished in the oven.  Spoon sauce onto the pasta, top with beef cubes, and sprinkle with some gray salt and parsley.

My son is already asking me to make it again.


Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc: The Parchment Lid

January 8, 2010

A parchment lid is a handy thing to know how to make.  Once you know the technique you can also make parchment rounds to line layer cake pans.  Thomas Keller likes to use them for covering braises and simmering soups in his cookbook Ad Hoc.

If you have Ad Hoc, go get your copy and check the directions for making a parchment lid on page 120.  My edition has an error which I discovered while making the beef stroganoff.   The directions start by telling you to fold a large rectangular piece of parchment paper in half to give you a square bigger than the pot to be covered.  In the margin of your book make a note to fold the square in half again. Then continue on with the rest of the instructions.

That way you’ll have the correct instructions when you need them, and you won’t be in a frazzle because you’re wondering why you followed the directions exactly and ended up with half a lid instead of a full circle.

I did confirm the error with Michael Ruhlman and he thought it had now been caught.  So maybe later printings won’t contain the error.

And if you don’t have Ad Hoc, but would like to know how to make parchment rounds, here are directions at The Kitchn.

Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken from Ad Hoc

December 15, 2009

Have you heard?  Thomas Keller has another new cookbook out.  It’s titled “Ad Hoc” and it contains casual American comfort food recipes suitable for the home kitchen, but with Keller’s attention to detail.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy it.  But this book costs a lot more than I’m usually willing to spend on a cookbook, so for now I’m biding my time for a good coupon from Border’s.

Chef-driven cookbooks can be iffy propositions, containing recipes that you would never make at home (I don’t think I’ll be buying Keller’s sous vide cookbook any time soon) or ingredient lists that are actually lists of other recipes that need to be made first.  Compared to previous Keller cookbooks, these recipes are considered quick-and-easy, but his bar is set a bit higher than most.

So I was happy to find out it’s possible to do a little test drive first.  Sarah at The Delicious Life compiled links to recipes from Ad Hoc that have been reprinted on the Web.  There are 21, about 10% of the the total cookbook.  So I can try a couple and get a feel for how approachable the recipes really are for the home cook.

Thanks to my CSA I have a lot of root vegetables right now.  A pound of squash goes much further than a pound of spinach.  With nine squash (squashes?) sitting on my counter, not to mention crisper drawers full of sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, radishes, a celeriac and a rutabaga . . . well I feel a bit overwhelmed.

So I was immediately drawn to the recipe for Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables.  It looked like I could make a decent dent in my root vegetable supply.

The recipe also calls for some fresh thyme.  This is what my garden looked like when I went out to pick it.  It doesn’t get much bleaker than this my friends.  It looks like a good day for a roast chicken dinner, doesn’t it?

I bought a beautiful chicken from Anderson Farm at Traditional Foods Minnesota.  The recipes suggests leaving the chicken uncovered in the fridge for a couple of days if you want nice crispy skin.

Be warned: A chicken left uncovered in the fridge for a couple of days will look a little scary . . . like it’s been beat up by the other food in the fridge while the door is closed.

If you want to truss you chicken here’s a handy little video demonstrating a simple method.

The nice thing about this farm chicken, vs. a grocery store chicken, was that I actually had pan drippings at the end to work with.  I saved the fat and drippings to make chicken pot pie with the leftovers.

This warms me up just to look at it:

Beauty, eh?

I’m really looking forward to trying more.

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
adapted from Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller

1 whole chicken, preferably organic (4 – 4.5 pounds)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
fresh thyme sprigs
salt and pepper
3 rutabagas (I only used one)
2 large turnips or a few small ones
6 carrots
12 small yellow or red new potatoes
8-10 small whole cippolini onions (This was my addition because I had some. Don’t peel them.  When they’re done roasting you can snip the end off and the onion will pop right out of the skin)
1/3 cup canola oil
4 T butter at room temperature or 2 T duck fat
1/2 lemon

For crispy skin, leave the bird uncovered in the fridge for a couple of days.  Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1.5 hours before roasting (Don’t skip this step).

Heat the oven to 475F.

For easier clean up, line the roasting pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper, add the garlic, 4 thyme sprigs, and the lemon half in the cavity. For a nicer presentation, truss the chicken.

Cut the rutabagas and turnips in similar sized pieces, about 3/4 inch wedges or dice. Cut the carrots in half crosswise and again lengthwise. Keep the young potatoes whole, or, if they are a bit too big cut them in half. Place all veggies in a large bowl, add 1/4 cup of canola oil, 2-3 thyme sprigs, salt, pepper, and toss well. Transfer them to a roasting pan, make a small space in the center to place the chicken. Rub the remaining canola oil all over the skin of the chicken, seasoning it again with salt and pepper.

Just before roasting, add pats of butter over the breast, or brush with some duck fat (Yum!).

Roast at 475F for 25 minutes, lower the temperature to 400F and roast for 1 hour, but check the internal temperature after 45 minutes; when it reaches 160F remove the chicken from the oven. Allow the chicken to rest under an aluminum foil tent for 20 minutes before carving (I found my veggies needed some more time so I stirred them up and returned them to the oven while the chicken was resting).

A few minutes before serving, place the roasting dish on the stove and heat the vegetables, moving them around to coat with the juices accumulated during roasting (At this point I drained off some of the fat and juices to be used later).

Carve your bird and dig in!