Friday, January 11, 2013

Helado de Cajeta y Nuez

If you are not familiar with cajeta, the moreish, delicate and intriguing caramel made from goat's milk then this is a great way to get acquainted. Made by reducing goats milk with sugar until it caramelises, it is a more sophisticated version of the famed dulce de leche and is ubiquitous in Mexico where it may appear in the form of a paste on bread (something like nutella), a hardened candy lollypop or the ice cream as below. 

It is such a distinct flavour, and takes me back to the Mercado 20 de Noviembre in Oaxaca where the helado stand always beckoned. This recipe has undergone a few incarnations, as I have tried to balance out the sour cream and milk to replicate somewhat the qualities of Mexican (or at least Oaxacan) milk, which is more complex and sour than Australian milk. Also I have settled on using store bought cajeta (though you can make your own), mainly because the concentration of sugar in frozen desserts must be quite precise to stabalise at a good consistency.

Helado de Cajeta y Nuez
Goat’s milk caramel and pecan ice-cream

2 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
300g cajeta
8 egg yolk
pinch of salt
2 tspn good vanilla essence
1 cup chopped pecans

1.    Bring the milk to the boil in a small sauce pan.
2.    Add the vanilla and salt.
3.    Whisk the egg yolks until frothy then pour in half of the hot milk, mix through then return to the pan.
4.    Cook on a low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Pour into a bowl and add the sour cream and cajeta and mix through.
5.    Chill until mixture is at fridge temperature, then churn as per the instructions of your  ice-cream machine (the kitchenaid I used takes around 20 minutes). When almost fully set, add the pecans and decant into a chilled container. Freeze. Best served within 48 hours.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to Joint a Chicken

All going to plan, over the next month or two I will be posting recipes from classes I have been ttaught over the past year. In that time I have had the opportunity to cover quite a bit of ground, so will start including a few more instructional "cheffy" things which I hope you will find useful. Something here today that covers an ingredient quite commonly used in Mexico, the bird.

The idea of butchery and knife skills to me, is to be able to control the produce you buy and use as you become less reliant on others to prepare it. There is also something quite satisfying about doing this sort of thing, learning the anatomy of a bird or fish and seeing the animal as a whole which I think is an important cognitive experience for any serious cook.

This basic breakdown will render the bird broken down into two breasts, two wings, two marylands and a carcass for stock. You could continue the process to yield two drumsticks and thighs separated out, but I didn't think of that when I was doing it so no photos of that step I'm afraid.

Let's get to it.

How to Joint a Bird

1. Place the whole chicken on a clean board with the tail end facing toward you.
2. Make an incision one side of the breastbone cartilage, starting at the neck. In one motion, cut down towards the tail keeping the knife following -and guided by- the breastbone.   
3. Use the knife to separate the breast meat from the rib-cage. Gently push the meat away with your other hand to give a better view of where you are cutting, and leave as little meat as possible on the carcass. 
4. Continue cutting and folding the breast, and eventually only the shoulder joint will hold the breast on. Fold the breast back to give a clear view. 
5. Push the tip of your knife into the joint and it will separate easily. You are not cutting bone, only making a small incision through the cartilage. 
6. Flip the bird over and place your thumb on the hip joint. Pull the drumstick towards you until the joint pops out. You can now make a cut straight from the top of the maryland to the tail. Be sure to cut around and include the oyster. Repeat steps 1-6 on the other side of the chicken. 

A great recipe for Helado de Cajeta coming next week. Thanks as always for checking in.