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How to Easily (and Safely) Flambé

How to Easily (and Safely) Flambé

Spare your eyebrows a scorching and follow these simple tips

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This pumpkin tart tatin wouldn't get its unique flavor without flambéing the rum.

Flambéing: it’s not just for show. While cooking with chef Didier Montarou of the InterContinental Hotel Boston recently, I learned that the dramatic act of igniting flames in a pan is not just to show off while cooking, which so many people believe it is, but is actually necessary to obtain certain flavors.

Flambé is French for "flamed," and the act of flambéing radically burns away alcohol so that the food is able to take on subtle flavors from the liquor without absorbing its harsh taste. Flambéing is a lot more complex than just adding a bit of alcohol to a dish because it boils the water and alcohol and caramelizes sugar all at once. So, with all of its complexity, the technique results in a unique flavor one would not get without flambéing.

A perfect example of this is the pumpkin tart recipe that Montarou and I developed that day. When I asked him if he thought it was OK for me to suggest that novice cooks could skip that step (out of fear for their eyebrows and eyelashes), Montarou replied with a firm no. Without igniting the rum with the pumpkin slices and the sugar, the taste of alcohol would be too severe and the sugar would not caramelize properly, preventing the recipe from obtaining all the delicious qualities we loved it for.

Click here to see the Pumpkin Rum Tart Tatin Recipe

So before you go and try our pumpkin tart recipe, there are a few key things to remember when flambéing to ensure perfect (and safe) results:

  1. The type of the alcohol you use is important. It’s recommended to use an alcohol with a proof higher than 80 and less than 120 for perfect and safe results. Also, as is always the case with cooking, pick a liquor that will complement the dish you’re making.
  2. Make sure the alcohol is at room temperature or warmer — but not boiling. If it’s too cold, it won’t ignite.
  3. Remove the pan as far away from the stove top as possible before pouring in the alcohol. If you’re too close to the open flame, it can ignite the alcohol stream and cause the entire bottle to explode.
  4. Always use a large pan with high sides and a long handle. When you’re ready to ignite, gently tip the edge of the pan toward the flame and away from you. Alternatively (and for those who use an electric stovetop), you can use a long matchstick to ignite. Make sure you hold the pan away at arm’s length to avoid getting burned.
  5. Shake the pan vigorously and allow the alcohol to burn and die off on its own, but always have a lid nearby in case you need to extinguish the flame yourself.

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce


How To Make Easy Bananas Foster

I challenge you to find anything that is as simple and as delicious as homemade banana foster! Simple? Yes! Just because fancy restaurants set it on fire beside your table before serving doesn’t mean you can’t make it at home! No flambé needed!

Banana foster can be a humble (but still absolutely delicious) dessert. It is just hot, buttery caramelized bananas paired with cold, sweet vanilla ice cream. For an added touch of sophistication, and another dimension of warmth, add a splash of rum. (But only if this dessert is for adults! Make a kid-friendly version by leaving the rum out because the flavor is fairly prominent! Be sure to check my tips below to make the perfect alcohol-free version!)

This classic dessert comes from New Orleans—so it’s not surprising that it’s a little showy when you order it off a fancy menu! But with just a few ingredients, you can enjoy banana foster at home!

Oh, and this recipe is part of my Bold Baking Worldwide series, where I’m bringing you a new recipe from around the world every Monday morning in 2021! Don’t miss my last recipes, Irish Apple Crumble, Gooey Butter Cake, and Sourdough English Muffins.


You&aposre probably familiar with compote from your favorite pancake house — it&aposs that gooey, fruit sauce that&aposs often used as a topping for pancakes and waffles. Compote simply refers to fruit, sugar, and sometimes additional ingredients that have been cooked over a little heat until you get that fruity, syrupy concoction. 

Unlike jam or jelly, compote isn&apost cooked down as much, so the fruit is still mostly intact. Compote also doesn&apost have any added pectin, which is a fruit-derived substance used to thicken jams and jellies. But this also means compote isn&apost meant for long term storage, like jams and jellies. The good news is, it&aposs so easy to make, you can throw it together whenever you need to!


Time to Learn the Omelet Flambé

An old classic, an ‘endangered’ flambé dish and an unusual dessert. Rum Omelettes were once a popular dish served in most European restaurants. It would be prepared live, by your table on a trolley and served, literally flaming hot, in your plate. Its light and smooth texture, its warmth, sweetness and the comforting taste of rum makes it a perfect ending for the perfect dinner.

It must be taken for as a pudding, although it is prepared in the same way as a regular omelette. The cookbook, Belgian Cuisine, describes Rum Omelettes as, ”a simple dish, much liked by gentlemen”.

You will enjoy this classy dessert and get to practice the impressive skill of flambéing…

Rum Omelettes:
Eggs 3
Milk 2tbs
Salt 1/2 tsp
Caster Sugar 2tbs + 1tbs
Rum 15ml + 20ml
Butter 2tbsp

Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, 2tbs sugar and 15ml of the Rum. Beat till the sugar dissolves, the more you beat, the lighter and fluffier your omelette gets.

Melt the butter in a preferably non-stick pan. Pour in the egg mixture and evenly spread around the pan, cook over a medium-low flame. Jiggle and shake the pan, side to side, to prevent the omelette from sticking.

When the omelette is cooked, and just a tiny bit slimy on the top, fold the omelette over. Now be quick, sprinkle the omelette over with the tablespoon of caster sugar. Turn your heat up to high and pour the rum over the omelette and some onto the pan so that it splutters. Let the flame from your range ignite the spluttering rum. Let it flambé and immediately put it in your plate whilst it is still alight.

If you possess an electric cooking range, use a flame torch, match or lighter to ignite the rum. Heating the rum beforehand will make it easier.


Baked Alaska Flambé or Flaming Baked Alaska

Saveur published a creative and safe way to present flaming Baked Alaska with dramatic flair!

  1. While spreading on meringue nestle half of an empty egg shell on top and place cake in freezer.
  2. When ready to serve warm 1/3 cup of dark rum on the stove, but do not boil. Place cake onto a heat proof surface, such as a baking sheet.
  3. Use a small metal ladle to pour 2 tablespoons rum into the eggshell.
  4. Light the rum in the eggshell with a long match. Slowly and carefully continue to ladle more rum into the egg shell so it runs down onto the meringue like a lit volcano.
  5. Once all the alcohol has burned off cut and serve cake.


How to Properly Light Your Food on Fire

Maybe it's the thrill of bananas Foster served tableside or just the fact that we're still teenage pyromaniacs at heart, but setting food on fire is undeniably cool. And while technically any amount of liquor you add to a recipe can be simmered off the old-fashioned way, we'll never turn down the chance to put on our own pyrotechnics show in the kitchen. Here's how to safely flambé, so you can ensure your eyebrows make it past dinner.


Flaming the fruit is what makes this dessert special. After the bananas cook in the sauce, it&rsquos best to turn off the heat and pour the rum on top. Then immediately turn the heat to medium to raise the alcohol temperature.

At room temperature, alcohol is still below its flash point and will not light. As the heat increases, the vapor pressure evaporates the alcohol around 172°F (78°C). That&rsquos when you can ignite the rum. Only let it warm for no more than 5 seconds. If too much alcohol evaporates, it will not light. Working quickly is critical!


Steak Diane

While steak diane is often thought of as a classic French bistro dish, it’s actually never served in France. Instead, it’s more of a distant cousin to steak au povire.

It’s believed that the dish was originally created in New York City, inspired by French techniques for flambé and cream sauces. The real French favorite when it comes to steak, steak au poivre, is often served with a similar cream sauce (minus the flambé), and that’s why I call steak diane a distant cousin.

Nevertheless, steak diane is a recipe that does have French flair and it’s one that I love creating in my French kitchen. I hope you won’t hold it’s lack of classical quality against it.

You’d be missing out for sure.

Steak diane comes together in about 10 to 15 minutes. The steak itself is minimally seasoned. A generous grind of sea salt followed by a quick grind of pepper is all the steak needs.

The steak is then seared and cooked to your desired doneness. I prefer my steak medium-rare, but I know to the French, even this is slightly shameful. (FYI, the French think the more you cook steak, the more you’re just butchering the whole dish)

The steak is then set aside temporarily to make room in the pan for the sauce. The sauce simply consists of butter, onion, garlic, cognac, dijon, worcestershire sauce, and heavy cream.

But the cognac. Oh, the cognac. This is where the good stuff happens.

Once the cognac is added to the pan, it’s immediately set on fire with a lighter stick (like [easyazon_link identifier=”B006SM2G1U” locale=”US” tag=”monpetitfour-20″]BIC Multi-Purpose Lighter Combo Pack[/easyazon_link]). The sauce will erupt into a large flame, which is what creates those rich, caramel notes in the sauce.

Once the flame subsides, the [easyazon_link identifier=”B000WG951M” locale=”US” tag=”monpetitfour-20″]Maille Orig Dijon Mustard, 7.5 oz[/easyazon_link], [easyazon_link identifier=”B000RYFQ44″ locale=”US” tag=”monpetitfour-20″]Lea & Perrins The Original Worcestershire Sauce, 5 oz[/easyazon_link] and heavy cream are all added and stirred together until the sauce is thick. This delectable dijon cream sauce is then poured over the steak to create what we know and love as steak diane.

I’m telling you guys, this recipe for steak diane is the stuff dreams are made of.


How to Easily (and Safely) Flambé - Recipes

Fricassee de champignons

Mushrooms Cooked in butter with garlic and herbs

These will be the tastiest mushrooms you will ever taste. Browned in butter, with garlic, herbs and Marsala wine. A great side dish to go with any meal. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, simply replace the butter with olive oil. These mushrooms also make a great meal served on crusty toasted sourdough bread. Simple to make. Enjoy my Fricassee of mushrooms (champignons).

Ingredients

    6 tbsp - 90g Butter 22oz – 600g Button Mushrooms 2 shallots (finely chopped) ½ cup dry Marsala wine ½ lemon juice 1 Bay leaf ½ tsp dried rosemary ½ tsp dried thyme 2 Garlic cloves Salt and pepper Handful of parsley leaves (finely chopped)

Steps

In a large frying pan on high heat add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the button mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. Toss until golden all over.

Add the shallots and continue tossing until the shallots have a little colour. Deglaze with Marsala wine, if you feel comfortable and if it’s safe, flambe the alcohol.

Add the squeeze of half a lemon, a bay leaf into the juices, rosemary, thyme, minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.


How to Easily (and Safely) Flambé - Recipes

The best stew you will ever taste. This slow braising method fuses the ingredients together leaving you with an incredible tender, moist and rich flavoured meat.

Lamb is becoming a more fashionable red meat as it’s a healthier meat as it contains many vitamins, minerals and B12. Try and buy grass fed and it will also have the heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

But enough about health, this recipe is about taste. If you like those rich casserole stews, then look further, this is a complete meal cooked in one pot. The slow cooking process tenderises the meat and develops the flavour.

A complete meal because it has carrots, peas, potatoes all built in. The best part is that it will taste even better the next day, so make a big pot. It’s also easy to freeze for ready made meals when you’re short on time. I usually place them in glass storage containers and then microwave them or add a splash of water in a saucepan and reheat on very low heat.

For the wine, make sure you buy a full bodied wine, like a shiraz or cabernet sauvignon. Do not go crazy on the price but don’t skimp either, the quality of the wine will affect the sauce. It is a red wine sauce after all.

As an option, I like to serve it with a crusty toasted bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic for that extra flavour. This is of course optional. Sprinkle some freshy chopped parsley or you can even use the celery leaves to add colour and freshness before serving.

Ingredients

    2.2lb - 1 kg of chunky diced lamb pieces (shoulder/leg) 1 large carrot 2 celery sticks 2 brown onions 2 garlic cloves 12 Black pitted olives 3 tbsp Honey 1 bottle of red wine 1 can tomato 4 sprigs of thyme (one tsp dried) 2 bay leaves 3 medium potatoes (waxy variety) 1 orange 1 cup frozen peas Salt and pepper Bread to serve toasted (Optional chopped parsley or celery leaves)

Steps

Peel and dice the carrots, dice the celery. Slice the onions finely. Set aside.

Trim off any excess fat or sinew and dice the meat into large bite size chunks. Season with salt and pepper, coat in flour.

In a Dutch oven or large casserole pot on high heat, add olive oil, enough to cover the bottom. Once oil is very hot but not smoking, sauté the lamb pieces one third at a time. Lamb should be nicely caramelised. Scrape the bottom as you go to avoid any burning. Set lamb aside.

In the same pot, add more olive oil and caramelize the sliced onion along with the dried thyme. They should be nice and brown, then deglaze with the whole bottle of red wine. Bring to the boil and Flambé, (if safe) using a match. Leave to reduce a couple minutes.

Add the diced carrots, celery, the minced garlic, orange zest and juice, return the cooked lamb, add the canned tomatoes, honey, salt and pepper. Add one cup of water, bay leaves, cover and cook 40 minutes on very low heat. Stir once in a while so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

While it’s cooking peel the and dice the potatoes into chunky pieces. After the 40 minutes, add the potatoes and (cut in half) pitted black olives. Continue cooking for 50 more minutes lid on. 10 minutes before the end, stir in the peas.

Turn off heat, leave to rest 20 minutes before serving. While it’s resting, as an option, chop some parsley or celery leaves and sprinkle over the finished dish.


Watch the video: How To Cook Peach Flambé (October 2021).