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The California Cook: Squinting into the future of cooking

September 29, 2012|By Russ Parsons | Los Angeles Times

I served that with pressure-cooker mushroom jus made by cooking browned mushrooms and shallots under pressure with water, sherry and white wine, straining and finishing with white miso and soy sauce.

I've made pressure cooker stocks before and been happy with them, but this one lacked depth of flavor. Even after I beefed it up by reducing it with more sautéed mushrooms, it still seemed thin. I might try it again, using chicken stock in place of the water, or including some dried mushrooms. Or maybe both.

The chicken worked much better. In fact, it was three-quarters of the way to amazing. The meat stayed incredibly moist without any of that rubbery texture I sometimes find in sous-vide cooked meats. The thigh pulled cleanly away from the bone without any sign of being overcooked. The breast was done evenly through without a sign of drying.

The only drawback was the skin, which had that flabby texture of boiled bird. Following Myhrvold's advice, I seared it in a scorching pan before serving, but even though it browned, it never did crisp.

Maybe I do need to break down and get that blowtorch.

Still, that was enough of a glimpse of the future to keep me going. I'm certainly not ready to give up on modernism. In fact, there are a few things I'm still eager to try — Paula Wolfert insists that cooking duck confit sous-vide is the bomb.

And it could be that in five years this kind of cooking will have become so mainstream I'll be eating these words. They're pretty tough, though, so maybe 72 hours at 136 degrees?

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