Friday, October 4, 2019

Making Alton Brown's Immersion Cooker Fennel Cardamon Cordial

Alton Brown's "Good Eats" series is my favorite cooking show.  I love the way he explains the "why" and "how" of a recipe in detail, which helps you understand (if things don't go right) where you may have gone wrong.  In his episode on immersion cooking (also known as sous vide), he shows you how to make a cordial in an hour using an immersion cooker.

It took me a while to locate all the ingredients here in Columbus.  I ended up getting the fennel and vodka at Giant Eagle. The cardamom seeds, pods, and anise stars came from Amazon.  The Fennel fronds and bulb came from Trader Joe's at Easton.

Ingredients

32 ounces of 80-proof vodka
2 cups of fennel fronds
10 green cardamom pods
3 ounces granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black cardamom seeds
1 whole star anise

Begin by loading your sous vide vessel with hot water and set your immersion cooker to 140F.

While the cooker is getting up to that temperature, measure out the spices and fennel fronds.  Actual fronds weren't readily available where I looked, so I thinly sliced the fennel bulb to make up the difference in volume.

All the spices, sugar, and vodka go into a one-gallon zip-top bag.  Remove as much air as you can so that it will not float in the water bath.  Put the bag in the sous vide bath and leave it for one hour (or up to 90 minutes according to Alton Brown).

Take the bag out of the bath, submerge it in ice water to chill to room temperature.

Carefully pour the liquid through a strainer lined with a paper coffee filter.  Discard the solids and chill the liquid before serving.

The finished cordial, chilling in the refrigerator

Post-Preparation Notes and Observations

The cordial is mildly sweet, not as syrupy as other cordials I've tasted. There is a nice mix of citrusy flavors from the cardamom and anise flavors from the anise star, fennel, and fennel bulb/fronds.  Your taste may vary from mine, but I found it pleasant and easily sippable.  I'd liken it to a milder version of Drambuie, with a much lighter anise note than that beverage, and a brighter flavor due to the coriander. It's not something I would drink by the glassful, which at 80 proof (40% ABV) is probably for the best, but it's an enjoyable little drink.  Alton Brown says it can be stored for months, and although the color will lighten, the flavor and aroma will not.  I suspect I will be sipping on this for a while.

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