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What's Cooking? Show us Your Plated Food Photos!

It is obviously clear that it is not always pictures that whet the appetite that are shown. ;) :)
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Just because they are - to my knowledge and taste - the best figs in the world, I present to you a variety of figs originating from ancestral Catalonia today "Catalunya" (south Catalonia - Spain - major city : Barcelona) and "Pyrénées-Orientales" (northern Catalonia - France - major city : Perpignan) :

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Strangely, the name of this variety - by a kind of snobbery or out of mutual respect (who knows ???) - is francized on the Spanish Catalan side and hispanized on the French Catalan side. In Cataluña (Spain) they name it : "Col de Dame", and in Pyrénées-Orientales (France) : "Coll de Signora"... [in both cases it means the same thing : "Lady's Collar"].
In any case, they are incredibly tasty and rather sweet (unless there is pre-harvest rain).

[ps. : they are so good "au naturel" that it is better to leave them and eat them as they are.]
I live in the "Pyrénées-Orientales" (South of France by the Mediterranean Sea) and I confirm what is written above....
Not sure where to put this but $490 worth of cook and drink books (26) for $25. The highly reviewed Six California Kitchens is worth that alone. Not a scam, charity. FYI
"Objectivist" Roast Chicken :) I call it that because of a number of science based methods to make a roast chicken. I love experimenting, and this one is a new experiment.

Step 1: Brine. Brine works by introducing Sodium into the meat. This has a number of effects - it seasons the meat making it tastier, it draws water in by osmosis, and then resists moisture loss during roasting making it juicer, and it alters the charge on some protein molecules making it more tender. A typical brine is 5-8% salt in water, but some people like Thomas Keller also add other flavourings like lemon juice and pepper to the brining liquid.

I have tried wet brining and dry brining before. The problem with wet brining is twofold - firstly, you need a container large enough for the chicken, but not so large that it won't fit in the refrigerator. Secondly, and more important - the brine also seeps into the skin, making it rubbery when roasted. It never gets crispy. So my method these days is injection brining. There are a number of advantages - it works much faster than diffusion brining in a wet brine, it does not brine the skin, and you can also introduce large molecules into the chicken that traditional diffusion brining does not.

In the past, I have made a "double roast chicken", where I first roast some chicken bones, neck, wings, etc. to make a chicken stock, I then turn the chicken stock into a brine, and then inject that into the chicken. This creates a ridiculously chicken-y chicken which sauces itself when you cut into it. I then read about Phosphate having a tenderizing effect on chicken, and some people using milk to brine (similar to buttermilk marinaded fried chicken). And then I saw an episode of Guga's on Youtube where he describes injecting butter into chicken.

So this latest effort has 1/3 chicken stock, 1/3 cream, and 1/3 melted butter. You need 20% of the weight of the chicken, and the brine needs to be 5% salinity. So this is a 1.8kg chicken - I prepared 360mL brine consisting of 120mL of each liquid, and then added 18g of salt. I injected all of it into the chicken. What was notable about this particular brining solution was how nearly all the liquid stays inside the chicken, probably because the cold chicken meat causes the butter emulsion to solidify and not leak out.

Step 2: Prepare skin. Prior to brining, I had already dunked the chicken into a pot of boiling water 3 times. This serves to tighten up the skin and kill any surface bacteria. After injection, I rubbed the skin with a baste consisting of sugar mixed in with butter. The idea of sugar is to boost the Maillard reaction. I then left it overnight in the fridge, uncovered, to dry out.

The chicken was then stuffed with 1/2 a lemon, and some herbs from my garden (parsley, rosemary, and thyme). It was trussed up onto a rotisserie bar.

This is what it looked like before roasting:


Step 3: Slow Roasting. UNFORTUNATELY after all that effort, the rotisserie motor in my oven was not working, so it was roasted conventionally instead over a pan of water. I set the oven at 80C and roasted it for 4 hours until the internal temperature reached 60C.

The idea of a slow roast is to allow for more even heat distribution in the chicken. With my probe thermometer, I was able to see that the delta between the meat close to the surface and the meat deep in the interior was only 5C. When the outside reached 60C, I turned the oven off and left the chicken in the oven until the deepest meat reached 60C. I then removed it from the oven and let it rest. This is what it looked like when it was resting:


Step 4: Finishing. At this point I cranked the oven to maximum and waited for it to heat up. I returned the chicken to the oven and blasted it until I got some colour. During this process the temperature of the chicken rose to 65C, which is the safe minimum for consuming chicken. After resting for 15 minutes, I carved the chicken and served it.

The chicken was served with a simple salad:


Verdict: I am not sure if this is the best roast chicken I have ever made. For me, it was a bit too rich and too buttery, I felt that all I was tasting was dairy and not chicken. Next time I will omit the cream or use less butter. My wife loved it though. I am also not happy that I did not brown the chicken as much as I would have liked. Longer period in the hot oven would have solved that, but then I would have overshot my target temp of 65C and I am not game enough to take the chicken out at 55C at the end of the slow roasting period! I could probably improve it more by roasting it on my outdoor rotisserie with charcoal, but sadly it was raining today and I could not do that. Rotisserie is the best way to cook chicken, because as the chicken rotates, it is subject to alternate heating/cooling cycles and it cooks the chicken more evenly.

My experiments and quest for the perfect roast chicken continues.
Down here in Southern California, our Christmas festivities include this 'traditional' Mexican delicacy.

May the Holiday season put a few (properly prepared) tamales on your plate!;)
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