Tuesday, December 05, 2006

stubborness times infinity

Even though I find many recipes interesting, it is hard for me to be surprised at a recipe, either the technique or the combination of flavors. The recipe I´m about to comment surprised me with both. First of all, it´s a syrup made with carrot juice and no extra sugar. And then it has smoked chipotles... now maybe it´s just me, but carrots and chiles is not the first ingredient combination that comes to mind.
I saw this recipe on tv, while watching a show called Simply Ming (apparently it airs on a public network in the US.) Anyway, the show starts with a master recipe, which Ming later uses in 3 or 4 recipes... which makes total sense to me as a cook, because that´s the right frame of mind to cook, you just take something you know and start coming up with ways to do different things with it.

carrot-chipotle syrup

So this recipe had my name written all over it. But there was a tiny problem: it called for carrot juice and I don´t have a juicer (or a place to store it if I were to buy it) and they don´t sell carrot juice at grocery stores here. Yet, I was not to be denied, so I thought I had the perfect solution for my little problem: I would process the carrot with some water, then strain it, and voilá, carrot juice. While it seemed to work at first, physics kicked my butt and separated the tiny carrot fragments and the water as it got heated. How wonderful!!! So I put the carrot pulp back in, cooked it for 40 minutes or so, and then processed it with the chipotle and the oil.

And even though my outcome is far from the original one. It tastes wonderful, so I began using it with vegetables and in different concoctions.

Here it is with pasta, cream cheese and some ciboullete (a good trick is to boil the pasta and strain it when there are just 2 minutes or so left of the total cooking time, and pour it in the pan with the sauce and cook it there for the remainding 2 minutes. That way, the sauce and the pasta merge flavors way better.)

pasta with carrot-jalapeño syrup

pasta with carrot-jalapeño syrup

I recommend trying this one out, it is really special.

Now all I have to do is find someone with a freaking juicer I can borrow!

Carrot-chipotle syrup (from Ming Tsai, http://simplyming.org/recipes/118_Carrot-Chipotle_Sy.html)

Ming says: When you reduce fruit and vegetable juices, they become more intensely themselves. Treated that way, they're perfect flavoring bases; witness this syrup made from reduced carrot juice and smoky-hot chipotle in adobo. I fell in love with that seasoning when I cooked in Santa Fe; here, it complements the reduction's sweetness beautifully, making the syrup a very tasty, as well as useful, ingredient.

Makes 1 cup
2 quarts fresh carrot juice
1 teaspoon chopped chipotle in adobo
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large non-reactive saucepan, bring the carrot juice to a gentle simmer over low heat. Reduce the juice until all the liquid is evaporated, leaving a wet residue, about 45 minutes.
2. With a heat-resistant rubber spatula, scrape the residue from the pan and transfer it to a blender. Add the chipotle in adobo, and blend at high speed.
3. With the machine running, drizzle in the oil very slowly at first until the mixture is emulsified, then add the oil more quickly to prevent the sauce from breaking. Season with salt and pepper. Use or store.
Lasts 2 weeks, refrigerated.

TRY IT This makes a great sauce for most seafood, particularly for cod, bass, scallops, and lobster.Drizzle the syrup over vegetable medleys; it adds a hint of sweetness and "marries" all the flavors.For extra flavor, use the syrup to encircle servings of seafood risotto.
MING'S TIPS Juicing fresh carrots with a juicer is best, but the store-bought juice works well, too.To ensure the syrup doesn't separate, add the oil to the blender very slowly at first. As soon as thickening occurs, add the oil more quickly. (The initial slow addition allows the mixture to combine; the faster addition prevents the mixture from getting too hot, which can cause it to separate.)

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