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Most Complicated Recipes

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Just been wondering- what are considered some of the world's most complicated and notoriously difficult recipes?
post #2 of 25
Hmmm -- depends whom you ask. Some people say that Paula Wolfert's recipes are really, really complicated, because some of them have many steps and can take days from start to finish (see The Cooking of Southwest France, for examples).

Others say some of the most complicated are Thomas Keller recipes from the French Laundry. Again, many parts.

But if the recipe is well-written and easy for the cook to follow, it isn't really difficult. Time-consuming, but not difficult.

For difficult, any recipe that does not clearly explain the technique(s) used. I won't embarrass anyone by naming names here. :rolleyes:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 25
I have yet to see any. Some just take lots of time and have multiple steps, but if you follow technique carefully it'll be very easy.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Okay, how about a few names of notoriously challenging old-classic dishes...

Or dishes that an amateur would seriously struggle with.
post #5 of 25
Difficulty in terms of technique? I would say a lot of chacuterie items such as pate en croute because...

1) The butchering
2) Making the stock and aspic
3) Making the farce
4) Making the pastry
5) Cooking it perfectly
6) Pouring the aspic
7) Cutting it perfectly! :eek:
8) Garnishing the platter

All technique!
post #6 of 25
Classically made Russian Coulilbiac! It involves rice, hardboiled eggs, crepes, fish, smoked fish, salmon roe, mushrooms, dill, sour cream sauce etc.
but oy! is it good!
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post #7 of 25
As Kuan says, anything using charcuterie, if you make it yourself:

Choucroute garni, especially if you make your own sauerkraut, sausages, smoked meats, etc.

Cassoulet, because the duck confit takes time to make, as do (again) sausages, etc.

Coq au vin, because there's the chicken, the mushrooms, the lardons, the onions, and the sauce.

Bisteya/Bastilla, with fillo-type pastry sheets, cooked chicken/pigeons, eggs, ground almonds and spices -- many elements, some of which take great skill to handle.

Mole -- some of the versions can have as many as 100 ingredients in the sauce; and that's only the sauce, not the meat/poultry and garnishes.

Then again, even good pizza could be considered complicated and difficult, if you make your own tomato sauce and are not used to working with yeast doughs.

And an amateur can struggle with just about anything, if s/he has not developed any skills and has no good advice to follow. :( One of the hardest things to learn is to cook a steak properly.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #8 of 25
Yes, my knee jerk reaction was to think of Thomas Keller recipes as well, but then as Suzanne said, it's not that they are "difficult" but time consuming because of each individual part - which by the way are worth every effort for a fantastic culinary experience!

I believe each individual has strengths and weaknesses. What is difficult to one isn't difficult to another based on talent, skill, knowledge, science, and life experience.
post #9 of 25
I think the hardest item to prepare is the perfect boiled egg.
I know, yadda,yadda, yadda all those who have the perfect recipe. Well water varies, eggs vary etc. So don't bother to post a method unless it is fool proof and one can find no way to mess it up.:lol:

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post #10 of 25
Don't forget differences in boiling temperature at altitude (up here water boils at 97 degrees C as opposed to 100 at sea level) and different atmospheric pressures (affected by weather and altitude), salt levels in the water (which raises the boiling temp), the amount of water relative to the number and size of eggs, the heat of the stove (which determines how quickly the water will come back to temp after the eggs are added), etc... Also you can start the egg in cold water, or plunge it into already boiling water, cool it off in ice or let the heat carryover and finish the cooking, and 'perfect' is a completely subjective term as well. Come to think of it a perfectly boiled egg is a very technical and difficult thing to do.
post #11 of 25
In my opinion, making a perfect tlacoyo is almost impossible.

post #12 of 25
No problem. The "trick" is to not boil them at all. ;)

Start in cold tap water, cold eggs suddently immersed in hot water is what causes cracked eggs. If you get green rings around the yolk, it means excessive heat.

1) Put the eggs (cold or room temp) into any pot with four inch sides or higher of any decent material that will hold the number of eggs you want to cook in one layer along the bottom (6-18). If you want the yolk in the center of the egg, plan ahead and put a rubber band around the egg carton. Tilt the carton on it's side lengthwise overnight.

2) Fill pot with cold tap water to cover eggs with one inch of water. Do not cover.

3) Bring to rolling boil over high heat. Immediately cover with lid and remove from heat. Set timer to 14 minutes. If using small eggs or for a bit softer texture, 12 minutes is fine. The timer can range from 10 - 17 minutes depending on how you discover you like the texture of your eggs and the color of the yolk. 10 - 13 minutes for a tender white and creamy yolk. 14-17 if you prefer them a little more dense. (Six minutes for soft boiled eggs.) I used to like 10 minutes and now I prefer 16.

4) While the eggs are sitting, prepare a bowl of one quart of water with one tray of ice cubes. When timer is up, transfer eggs with slotted spoon into ice water bath or put them under cold running water for 5 minutes to stop the cooking. Peel immediately. Peeling should be extremely easy because the egg contracts when going from hot to cold water. If you don't like peeling, crack the egg forcefully with a knife in half widthwise or lenghthwise (for deviled eggs) and scoop out with a spoon. Or don't peel and refrigerate up to three days.
post #13 of 25
nope, Mudbug, sorry,
The centers were not cooked at 14 minutes. They were cold to start.
Myth Busted

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post #14 of 25
It's not a myth. Many have success at 10 minutes.

The method is universal with very minor differences from sources including Julia Childs, Cook's Illustrated, Martha Stewart, Alton Brown, and Shirley Corriher.

Perhaps if you can start another thread and list your materials and technique in thorough detail, we can detect exactly what your culprit is. If you think cold is an issue, put them in warm water for five minutes first. In fact, when I was writing my post, I got hungry for some, used eggs direct from the fridge, and pulled one at 10, one at 12, and left the rest for 15. All were perfectly done since I ate the first two.
post #15 of 25
I only mentioned myth because I was watching myth busters. I'm sure it's not a myth.But I don't think it is fool proof. I cooked 30 eggs in the bottom of a brasier. yellows were soft.
I'm not saying I can't boil eggs, we have egg salad everyday. We simmer for 16 min. uncovered and ice bath.
I just think it's difficult to create directions for the perfect boiled egg.

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post #16 of 25
Ahhh... the truth comes out. The above method is as foolproof as it's going to get. 30 eggs at one time is a lot. Did you cover with one inch of water and bring to a rolling boil before covering? With my sources above, credibility is not an issue considering one of them is a renowned food scientist. The problem with simmering which is not usually recommended is that there are as many interpretations of "simmering" as there are people who simmer.

Try the method with 6 - 18 eggs in a saucepan and let us know how it goes. You can pull one at different times (mark with a pencil) cool for five and crack to compare the differences.

;)
post #17 of 25
how about blowfish sashimi? If you mess up the consumer is dead.

Jan, I got to assist a chef that made an extremely exstensive recipe....75 ingredients not including the garnish....the techniques were exact.....wonderful to eat but alot of labor to produce.....like 3 days worth and exspensive too boot.

I'd have to go along with pate en croute...though finding great pie has become difficult, getting the crust just right is an art as is the balance of texture/flavors.
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post #18 of 25
I can already think of problems with your method. Doesn't give any specific temperatures, doesn't take into account whether the water comes to a boil in 5 minutes or 10, only the time afterwards. What material is your pot? A copper pot will lose heat alot quicker than a ceramic one, leading to different outcomes. Salted water or no? Too many factors.

As for your 'sources', which one is a renowned food scientist? At the moment the only ones I can think of are Hervé This and Harold McGee...

Hervé This recommends cooking the egg at a low temperature (62-68 degrees C), for a couple hours to get a 'perfect' egg. (62 degrees for a soft yolk, 68 degrees for a firm yolk). This seems as it would be the most consistent method, since the only real factor is temperature, which is controlled. Time is less relevant as long as it is sufficient since the egg will reach the temperature of the water and go no further. Of course, this method is impractical if you want to eat in 20 minutes, but would make for interesting experimentation if you have the time. That said, 'perfect' is completely subjective anyway, and Hervé This' methods are meant more as a provocation to create new recipes, not necessarily as 'the' way...
post #19 of 25
Mikeb,

Did you try it before posting? ;)

All are easy to look up and confirm. Shirley Corriher is the renowned food scientist, and is a a frequent guest on Alton Brown's show Good Eats on the FoodTV Network. I just saw her last week talking about tempering and crystallization of chocolate in fact for the "Art of Darkness episode. Shirley Corriher & Alton Brown

"Shirley Corriher has been answering the "whys" of cooking for more than 25 years, counting among those who rely on her expertise Julia Child." "When Julia Child wondered why her baby spinach leaves turned bitter in the sauté pan, she called Shirley Corriher."
Shirley Corriher & Julia Child

"She also serves as consultant to Cook's Illustrated and Fine Cooking, and occasionally writes for Food and Wine, Martha Stewart Living, and others."

Shirley O. Corriher Profiles: Profile I, Profile II, An Interview with Shirley O. Corriher

The article on Hard Cooked Eggs from Cook's Illustrated addresses your concerns about pan materials. It's the first article I ever read from Cook's Illustrated and won me over in a heartbeat because it addressed any question I could have come up with which are the questions you're asking. What they found was that this method overcame the problem of individual cooks using different materials for pans, using different heat sources, and found that the cooking time it takes to get the water to a boil was not as critical as the time the water was brought to a full boil and the eggs were left to start cooking. No salt required at any time for this recipe. You can read the original article here. I believe it addresses all the issues you raise and more.

When you say "'perfect' is completely subjective anyway" I agree. Hence the range in cooking times provided above. However, most will agree that a yolk with a green circle would not fall into the category of "perfect", that cracks and rubbery or chalky yolks are not desireable, etc. CI's definition is "... a moist and creamy yolk, a firm yet tender white, and no trace of an unpleasantly green ring".

I hope this suffices as a response. Just try it, let us know how it goes. :lips:
post #20 of 25

Shirley C.

My chef from my first internship gave me a book called "Cookwise" by Shirley.....great problem solver, and educational tool when things come into question.
post #21 of 25
This is one of those discussions like religion and politics, no one will ever agree. So with that in mind what I was taught always has worked for me.
Start eggs in cold water, bring to a boil and turn down to a rolling simmer. Cook 9 minutes and cool. That's it. I'm not saying this is the way, but it works for me.
As far as Herve goes That's ridiculous :beer:
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #22 of 25
Actually, considering the sources, I feel that more agree than not on this. I haven't met anyone who tried it with whom it did not result in a successful hard boiled egg. :cool:
post #23 of 25
Roast chicken is another of those supposedly simple dishes that are almost impossible to get right. Judy Rodgers's version (Zuni Cafe) is "complicated" (time-consuming) in that you have to plan a few days ahead, but the actual work is minimal, and the result is very good. James Peterson's is quick, simple, but (to my palate) doesn't work. :( I'm sure everyone can come up with other versions.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #24 of 25
Works for me, every time, although jumbos need a couple of minutes more. Now if I could just get those pesky shells and membranes to be this predictable!
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post #25 of 25
I found a little vinegar in the water helps.
My latest musical venture!
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Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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