Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cryo-Blanching to Improve a Classic

If you know me at all, you have probably noticed that I have an obsession with fava beans. I can't explain it. I just love them beyond all reason. I eagerly anticipate the approach of fava bean season every year, buy a big pile of them almost every weekend when they are in season, and then mourn for a while when the season cruelly and inevitably ends...
Typically I fully peel them (including the inner shell), blanch them briefly in salted water, and then make fava bean crostini by combining them with toasted baguette slices, fresh ricotta, sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon. Simple. Easy. Delicious.
I was re-reading my Ideas in Food cookbook the other day, though, and was reminded that I wanted to try cryo-blanching. Turns out it's super-easy and brilliant, with the added bonus of not increasing the humidity of my kitchen on a hot day by boiling a big pot of water. After I finished peeling the fava beans (see picture above), I brined them in salt water for 10 minutes...
... then vacuum-sealed...
... and tossed in the freezer overnight.
The bag is cut open and placed in the fridge to thaw, and what you end up with are ridiculously fresh-tasting favas that feel cooked even though they aren't. The texture was perfection, and there was an accent of a flavor akin to fresh peas that I didn't know fava beans had in them. These were, in short, the best fava beans that I have ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of fava beans in my day.
I (of course) used them to make fava bean crostini, but decided to put a twist on the dish this time. I used my fresh homemade sous vide ricotta, and decided to make two variations with components in my fridge. The first replaced the (messy) squeeze of lemon juice with a brunoise of preserved lemon peel. This was genius. Genius, I tell you...
The second option employed the previous day's prosciutto powder to offer a savory contrast to the super-fresh taste of the fava beans rather than a citrus one. So awesome. Can't wait for next weekend's big pile o' favas...

1 comment:

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