MasterClass – Thomas Keller – Big-Pot Blanching – Asparagus

  • Enables vibrant color to come thru
  • Use (lots) of salt to season veggie
  • How much to cook a veggie is a very personal preference (the “tooth”) – some people want just a little resistance. In the 70’s “nouvelle cooking” went for much crisper veggies. Again, very much your preference
  • Peeling veggies (like asparagus)
    • Peeling gives “refinement” to remove some of the outer fiber … provides better color
    • Keller does not like old style peelers (suggests to just throw away)
    • Another kind of peeler is an “econome” … looks much like old style peeler. Leaves more to eat. Unclear what makes this different from old style peeler????
    • Another kind of peeler is a “swiss” peeler
    • Another technique is to use a “scrubby” (typically associated with pot scrubbing). This removes less fiber than swiss or econome peelers
    • For asparagus … remove some of the “leaves” below the main tip to create a smoother surface using paring knife
  • When putting veggies in boiling water…want water to be boiling in a big pot and after veggies added pot doesn’t stop boiling
  • Back to peeling:
    • Put parchment paper down
    • Then on top of parchment paper a loaf pan (which helps to avoid breaking asparagus stems)
    • For asparagus, after peeling, “snap” the stem and it will snap between touch and edible part
  • Want to bundle asparagus to avoid damaging fragile tips when added to boiling water due to bumping.
  • Keller prefers the econome peeler vs swiss peeler as he indicates it gives him more control. Hands closer to the fruit/veggie for more control and the econome peeler also allows to core things like apples due to sharp tip. Again, a personal preference
  • After peeling fruits/veggies (the trip/scraps…Keller doesn’t like “scrap” term but rather “trip”). He doesn’t mention to save the “trip” for later use in stocks
  • Bundling asparagus
    • Butcher twine started close to tip, twice, then around bottom twice.
    • Then use slip knot (string under knot and then under again … two loops). Then to cinch, tie another knot.
    • Trim the ends so they are even
  • Then, with boiling water in big pot, add salt so water tastes like sea water to begin blanching process …colors get vibrant
  • “Shocking”
    • Allows to handle veggies so don’t burn
    • Allows to stop cooking process … can be important if multi-step mise en place…sets colors
    • Don’t leave veggies in water too long
    • Don’t have to “shock” if going directly to table

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