Erwan Heussaff: Slow cooking in the big city
Acquiring an oven is arguably one of the most exciting things to happen to a home cook. There’s just something about having your own honest-to-goodness stand-alone oven that makes the heart beat faster. Even the thinking about getting one is enough to make you giddy with excitement.
There are a number of things to consider when taking the plunge: budget, the size, how it looks, and the kinds of food you want to bake/roast in it, should it be electric or gas. It can get crazy with all these considerations. I remember carrying two 9” pans with me to the mall to check for an oven’s dimensions. But being fastidious is part of the deal. Because, face it, the oven is one kitchen appliance you hope to spend many, many years with.
It’s no different for Erwan Heussaff, renowned home cook (“I am not a professional chef,” he notes) and host of celebrated online cooking show, The Fat Kid Inside. Early this year, he found himself on the lookout for appliances for his work kitchen.
This equipment geek is as finicky about his kitchen needs as they come.
“I am a wear and tear kind of guy. I tend to break my equipment so I need things that are quite robust. But obviously since it’s for camera it has to look good as well which is usually something you have to give up when you are more on the industrial side of equipment,” he says.
For him and his specific requirements, the Viking Range oven fits the bill to a T.
“When I was doing my research I was very excited to see Viking stuff because it’s big, robust and the warranty’s quite long which is important to me.” It also helps his cause that the various Viking Range appliances that dot his studio kitchen are camera-ready. Aside from the oven, it has a gas cooktop as well as a ventilator.
To demonstrate their capacity, Erwan recently prepared a special lunch menu for members of the media at his studio kitchen located inside Hectare One, his one-stop office for all food and other agriculture-related endeavors with partner, Nico Bolzico.
“The oven is one of my favorite things from the range that’s why I want to use it predominantly today to make the main course,” says Erwan. “I made conchinillo in the oven before and it turns out great all the time.”
The conchinillo was made with a 4-kilo suckling pig, prepared the day before. It had been roasting in the oven for almost 5 hours when we arrived.
The results were wonderful, to judge by the sighs of relief from Erwan and Chef Siggy Torrente, who helped him with kitchen duties for the day. Murmurs of wonder were heard as the roasted pig came out of the oven. The skin was crunchy and the meat, tender, juicy and flavorsome.
Erwan gamely cut into his 5-hour creation using a plate instead of a sharp knife – apparently, this is how some test for the doneness of a conchinillo. This pig passed that test with flying colors.
The accompanying dishes went perfectly well with the star of the meal. There was the tuna tartare seasoned lightly with soy sauce, followed by a creamy cauliflower mash. Two scoops of Parmesan mango gelato ice cream with polvoron powder was the yummy ending. I particularly liked the rice salad made with heritage rice from the Ifugao province and loaded with sliced sigarillas. It had the right tartness from its lime and tamarind dressing. The salad was chewy and refreshing at the same time.
As with any conversation these days, especially when it involves food, one can't help but reflect on the rising prices of produce. Preparing satisfying yet nutritious dishes have become more challenging in our present landscape.
“What I usually tell people is just go to the market,” advises Erwan. “Because that’s where you see all drop in prices. Supermarkets at this point will be very expensive. It’s really important to go the wet markets.”
Another thing he reminds us is to be extra mindful about food efficiency. For Erwan, food efficiency is not just about using the whole ingredient in a variety of ways. It also involves making sure that food does not go to waste just because it does not attain a certain standard.
As an example, he cites how a lot of restaurants don't use vegetables or produce that have been bruised, perhaps due to mishandling or bumps while being transported. “But instead of throwing it out, why not turn into something that you don't necessarily see, like sauce or something?” he asks.
Once in a while, you may opt to indulge in some slow cooking at home. It may sound counterintuitive because of the amount of gas needed but this method is another way to bring out flavors, even in the simplest of dishes. “In terms of food, slow cooking really develops much flavor,” he says.
But there is also a simple way to make dishes more special. It has something to do with what food industry folks term as mouthfeel or how food feels in your mouth when you eat.
As Erwan says: “…when you put something in your mouth you feel textures and that makes eating more interesting rather than just having one mushy flavor. To do that, just make sure you’re adding the right component at the right time.”
That is definitely something we need to consider while cooking, in good times and bad. – Rappler.com
The Viking Range Showroom can be found at Unit 205, Westgate Commercial Center, Filinvest City, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, with contact numbers 8281363 and 09175937255.