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A serious, non-snarky question: how does a braise-y food benefit from time in the freezer -- be it scientific, a theory, etc? I've never experienced it and it doesn't make obvious sense to me.

 

If someone were to ask my favorite item from the freezer, I'd answer "ice cubes."

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I read all these threads about these fabulous dinners people have at home, with photogenic, obviously labor-intensive food, and legendary bottles.   I can't speak for anybody else on this board, bu

If I'm not enjoying wine when I'm seventy, then my nieces and nephews are going to be stuck with a shitload of wine they won't know what to do with.   Or my next wife, who by then should be almost

Whaddya mean? That's more than half the meals I serve. Tossed with great care, I might add.

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I don't know why, but braisey food benefits from a few days of setting after it's cooked. I think we all agree on that: everybody knows that stews and such get better a day or two or three after you make them. That's non-controversial, right?

 

Now, obviously, the best thing would be for the braisey item to sit in the refrigerator for a few days right after you make it.

 

If, instead, you freeze the braisey item, then you get whatever benefit you get from its just sitting around over (1) the day or so it takes it to freeze and then (2) the day or so it takes it to thaw.

 

That's the way I see it, anyway.

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Ya, I know braises "benefit" from time in the fridge, but the freezer was a new one on me. I'm still not sold on the whole "benefit" though -- it's basically a melding of flavors along with some absorbing of flavors from one element to another to another. Maybe I just don't like braises too much (outside of quick ones with the flavor coming from outside).

 

Thanks though. It'd be interesting to do a side by side.

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Went to Trader Joe's the other night. They now have frozen lobster tails, 7-ounce 2-pack for $11.99. Picked that up along with some orzo, mascarpone cheese, and a bottle of Trader Joe's 2012 Chardonnay Yountville Reserve Lot 82; $9.99. Made Thomas Keller's “Macaroni and Cheese”, Butter-Poached Maine Lobster with Creamy Lobster Broth and Mascarpone-Enriched Orzo. This is from page 132 of the French Laundry Cookbook.

 

I made the orzo and added the mascarpone cheese. Then did a sous vide with the lobster tails, but added 1/4-cup of butter and some sea salt to the tails before sealing the bag. Cooked it at 139F for 15 minutes per instructions from Keller's Under Pressure cookbook. When the lobsters were done I cut a slit in the bag and drained the liquid into the orzo, which made it very creamy and lobstery. This step is the poor-man's version of the 2 cups of creamy lobster broth that Keller uses in the recipe.

The dish was pretty awesome. The lobster was so tender we could cut it with a spoon. Keller has mentioned that some people think it's undercooked at this soft texture so they return it to the kitchen. We liked it, it was great. But what really brought it all together was the wine. I mentioned in another post about Riedel's new Montrachet line of chardonnay glasses. This $10 bottle of wine in this glass was incredible. Seriously, it reminded me of a $100 Les Charmes Meursault Premier Cru, which I've had several times. It makes me wonder what a $100 Les Charmes Meursault Premier Cru would taste like in this glass.

 

The wine, lobster, and cheese all interacted and played off of each other very well.

 

For about $25 this was a very good dinner for two.

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A serious, non-snarky question: how does a braise-y food benefit from time in the freezer -- be it scientific, a theory, etc? I've never experienced it and it doesn't make obvious sense to me.

The only thing I can think of is water expands approximately 11/10ths its volume when frozen. There's water in the protein that was braised. That water is flavored with salt and other flavorings from the braise. With the expanding water the cells break to let the water expand. (This is why the texture of a frozen item never matches the texture of a non-frozen item and is often a selling point when selling shrimp, chicken, or turkey, for example.) After breaking through the cells the water, flavored from the braise, merges with other cell water. When you defrost and reheat your braised item, the liquids move because of the agitation from the heat. The movement further moves flavors around the protein. Since I think we're talking flavor and not texture that is my theoretical 2¢ to why there's a benefit.

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I found a completely puzzling plastic container in the freezer. Pasta? Cabbage? No, it was the (chopped up) salt cod I made a week or two ago. Now have a brandade for tonight. :)

This might help in identifying plastic containers. It's better than tape and washes off quite well.

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Tonight's quasi-unidentifiable thawed dinner turned out to be bucatini with various salume and I think scallions and some eggplant. A real time capsule from the summer.

 

Now it might seem insane to have a chilled red in this weather we're having. But I had this bottle that needed to be drunk now (no: four years ago), and needed to be chilled. I mean, it makes sense: if you're going to eat food from the summer, you've got to drink summer wines with it.

 

2007 Castel Salegg Bischofsleiten Kalterer See Auslese Klassisch/Lago di Caldaro Scelto Classico

 

Well, to the extent they have "summer" in the Alto Adige. This wine definitely had to be chilled, though.

 

One reason I love the Alto Adige is that the labels (as you can see from my identification above) are in both German and Italian.

 

There is no way anybody thought this wine would live to be seven years old. I didn't hold it: more like, I lost it. It wasn't terrible now -- but there was no advantage to holding it this long. It clearly would have been better a few years ago, when its fruit was still lively.

 

Schiavas don't have enough stuffing to present much after the fruit fades. There's still some fruit left here, though, and since this is one of the better wines of its type, there are some secondary flavors attaching to provide some engagement to this bottle. But, as I said, it clearly would have been better a few years ago.

 

It's ironic, in a way. One advantage to eating at home is that you get to drink aged wines with dinner. And one disadvantage is that sometimes they shouldn't have been quite so aged.

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A serious, non-snarky question: how does a braise-y food benefit from time in the freezer -- be it scientific, a theory, etc? I've never experienced it and it doesn't make obvious sense to me.

The only thing I can think of is water expands approximately 11/10ths its volume when frozen. There's water in the protein that was braised. That water is flavored with salt and other flavorings from the braise. With the expanding water the cells break to let the water expand. (This is why the texture of a frozen item never matches the texture of a non-frozen item and is often a selling point when selling shrimp, chicken, or turkey, for example.) After breaking through the cells the water, flavored from the braise, merges with other cell water. When you defrost and reheat your braised item, the liquids move because of the agitation from the heat. The movement further moves flavors around the protein. Since I think we're talking flavor and not texture that is my theoretical 2¢ to why there's a benefit.

 

 

Seriously, I don't think a braise benefits from freezing. I think a braise benefits from refrigeration. I also think that if it takes a day for your freezer to completely freeze something, your freezer isn't cold enough. Get a freezer thermometer and see.

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I actually have no idea how long it takes my freezer to freeze things. I'm sure it's pretty fast. There's also a button to push that turns the freezer into a sort of super-freezer that freezes things almost instantaneously. I haven't messed with that.

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