Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme

Yes. Bacon. Alinea style.

The recipe is dehydrated bacon, with homemade butterscotch piped onto it, acting as a glue for green apple leather strips and fresh thyme.

I started with the butterscotch a few days before I worked on the rest of the recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of making the butterscotch. I wanted to start the butterscotch early because I got the impression from other Alinea blogs that this is the most temperamental part of the recipe. It was actually very easy. Just had to mix some sugar with light corn syrup, heat to 340 degrees, slowly whisk in some heavy whipping cream, and let cool.

To make the green apple leather strips, I started with two Granny Smith apples, halved them, cored them, and placed them on a silicone mat. (If anyone else is trying this out, don’t blow $20+ on a Silpat brand silicone mat. I was able to find the same thing in a generic brand at my grocery store for $2.50, and it worked perfectly fine.) The apples are then placed in the oven for 30 minutes until they’re soft and mushy.

I then removed the flesh from the skin of the apples and blended the flesh until “smooth.” I wasn’t able to get it completely smooth, unfortunately, and this ended up being a slight problem later on. The recipe also instructed me to run the apple puree through my chinois to get it even smoother, but that just wasn’t working out and I decided to work with what I already had since transferring the puree from bowl to blender to bowl to chinois was slowly resulting in less puree to work with.

I poured the puree onto a sheet pan lined with acetate sheets. I’ve learned that you can get acetate sheets from a bakery or from an art store, but that the ones from the art store usually are impossible to cook with because food gets stuck to it. Further research led me to learn that overhead transparencies are supposedly acetate, so I decided to go the easy route and bought some of those. I figured correctly that I wouldn’t have to worry about the puree sticking to the acetate because the recipe calls from spraying it with non-stick cooking spray.

I was supposed to spread the puree evenly on the acetate to 1/16 of an inch. This didn’t prove possible, so I did the best I could and stuck the puree into the oven. It was supposed to be in there for only 45 minutes, but ended up being in there for almost 3 hours (the same amount of time it took the bacon to dehydrate). Sidenote: this recipe technically calls for a dehydrator but the temp is set high enough that a standard oven can be used.

When I finally took it out of the oven, the apple puree had turned to leather only along the edges where the puree was the thinnest and was still the consistency of apple sauce in the middle. So I improvised by tearing away pieces of apple from the edges. In the book, the apple leather looks perfect and is cut into super thin ribbons. That wasn’t happening here.

Finally, the bacon. Once again, the book calls for using a dehydrator for the bacon, but it dehydrates at such a high temp that the oven worked just as well.

Before

After

Dehydrated bacon is very chewy, almost like beef jerky…which I guess makes sense because jerky is essentially dehydrated meat.

To plate, I squeezed some butterscotch onto the bacon, attached an apple leather piece, and finished it with a piece of fresh thyme.

I noticed today that I completely forgot to season the bacon with black pepper, which didn’t in any way impair the recipe. I must have been distracted by the succulence of the bacon. (And yes, it tasted amazing).

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Caramel Popcorn, liquefied

Caramel Popcorn Liquefied: It looks and tastes exactly how it sounds, except better. I made it twice: once on my own and again the next day just before a party my roommate and I were hosting.

This recipe was very easy and very rewarding in its result, despite the complaints of some party attenders that for a shot, it didn’t have any alcohol. Completely. Missing. The. Point. Since when did caramel popcorn have alcohol in it?

First, I made popcorn the old-fashioned way: with kernels and canola oil on the stove.

Then, I added my popcorn to a pot of water, butter, sugar, and salt and let that simmer for about 5 minutes. Incidentally, I didn’t get enough popped popcorn that the recipe called for from the amount of kernels that I was supposed to cook. I decided not to worry about that and it turned out not to make a difference.

As you can tell, the popcorn mixture turned into a mushy soup. I strained the mixture, discarding all the solids, and saved the popcorn broth.

Next, I made my caramel froth. This involved heating some sugar and water to 340 degrees and then whisking in some more water and simple syrup.

Adding some soy lecithin and attacking the caramel with an immersion blender allowed it to froth up a bit. Add that to the popcorn broth, and you’ve got your final product.

Really guys, this was kinda amazing, even if caramel popcorn doesn’t contain alcohol.

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