The ChefSteps Forum Is Really Cooking!

When we started building our sous vide course, we knew how crucial our interaction and communication with you, our students, and the culinary community at large would be to the success of our online courses. We envisioned the forum as an extramural course to put you in an exchange with world class chefs, writers, inventors, artists, scientists and everyone else with a curious mind and a passion for exquisite food.

Well, guess what? The ChefSteps forum is really starting to cook thanks to the contributions of some amazing new members. We’ve added some new categories to the list above, including paramedic/firefighter, clinical psychologist, software guru, financier, etc., plus lots of other new students and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of information and interaction that’s taking place. We thought you might like to get to know a few of these folks better, so here are some of the members of our forum you’ll get to meet when you sign up and get cooking.

After purchasing a PolyScience immersion circulator from our store, paramedic/firefighter Mason Perry took to our course and has been cooking up a sous vide storm ever since. He prepared a five course sous vide dinner and this delicious looking sous vide hamburger with sous vide asparagus and smashed potatoes. He now has his own thread on our forum to post all of his dishes.

victorwol works in tv post-production when he’s not perfecting the art of cooking sous vide eggs. BlvCook has been cooking sous vide for the past year and a half and has great questions. Trevor Teich is a chef in Chicago with a terrific blog and lots of great advice. Duda Ferreira knows a thing or two about sous vide corned ox tongue.

Computer consultant, Johan Edstrom (Seijoed on the forum), is not only cooking sous vide, but is one of your go to guys for DIY immersion circulator info. He has a great group on Google+ along with Brendan Lee, clinical psychologist, and
Patrick Ancillotti, another awesome computer guy (thanks for your help), and they will all jump in to answer your questions and ask even better questions to keep the discussion going.

We’ve added a new Pinterest board to showcase some of the dishes that our forum members have posted, so check it out and pin away! Chris Young also just added the first quiz on Module 1, so you can gauge how you’re doing on the course.

Don’t forget that the usual suspects; Chris Young, Grant Crilly, Ryan Matthew Smith, Michael Natkin, Nathan Pegram and other members of our team are also responding to your questions, so sign up, spread the word and be a part of it all.

A sincere thank you to all of our forum members from Chris, Grant, Ryan and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

A DIY Christmas Spectacular | We Built a Gaggle Roaster

So we occasionally get up to some elaborate DIY exploits that involve cooking, fire, and metal fabrication. We’ve staged some pretty large exploits in the last couple of years (we’ll be sharing some photos from those events soon), but I thought some of you might be interested in the relatively small one we threw together for a holiday celebration last Saturday night.

The Construction Phase
We dubbed the device “The Gaggle Roaster.” It’s a rotisserie spit that can carry half a dozen geese, each one dangling by its legs. We did this so the weight of the bird would stretch the skin taut, and so that we would get radiant heat shining over the entire surface of the bird. This ensured evenly cooked birds with really crispy skin, which was a major goal. Each bird rotated at about 2 rpm. We geared it so the birds would counter-rotate, which means that each bird rotated in the opposite direction of the one next to it—there was no good reason for this other than it looked cool.

I sketched out the idea for this about  a week prior to the party. Our group of makers — including several of our friends at Furlong Fortnight Bureau — gathered to rapidly build and test the device at our friend Rusty Oliver’s shop (The Hazardfactory) between the hours of 5 pm and 3 am.

Our constructors included Neal Stephenson, myself (Chris Young), Rusty Oliver, Nathan Pegram, Daniel MacDonald, and Larry Felser.

We also fabricated a giant roasting pan, complete with our own custom gas manifolds to roast some vegetables to go with our geese. On full blast, this is probably something like a 500,000 BTU/hr stove top.

Here’s a view of Rusty Oliver (left), Daniel MacDonald (center), and Nathan Pegram (right) working on final assembly:
Rusty-Oliver Kevin-MacDonald Nathan-Pegram
Here’s Nathan tensioning the very long bike chain that drives the gearing:
Our careful engineering efforts involved load testing with about a 4X geese-overloading factor:

The Party Phase
Here are some photos from the actual gaggle-roast. No sous vide was involved, we went old-school — like 16th century British old-school.

Basic Cooking Method:

  1. Build a linear chain-driven, counter-rotating rotisserie spit that will suspend half a flock of birds.
  2. Build a large hearth with high emissivity material (firebrick is ideal)
  3. Build a very large fire that is at least 25% longer than the length of the spit, so that the ends of the spit see as much glowing infrared energy as the center.
  4. Once firebrick is warmed up, suspend birds and begin roasting. Surface temperature of birds should settle around 160 °F / 71 °C until core temperature of bird reaches something like 140 °F / 60 °C.
  5. For the final sear, move the geese closer to the fire and turn up the intensity of the radiant heat by blasting large volumes of air at the fire. A leaf blower or Shop-Vac blown in reverse will do nicely.
  6. Once the surface temperature of the birds reaches something like 270 °F / 132 °C, remove the birds and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Carve and serve with a giant pan filled with choucroute and new potatoes.

Here are some photos that Ryan grabbed during the event:

Plumes of Combustion
Geese in Silhouette
 A Gaggle of Roasting Geese
 Turning Up The Heat!
Glowing White Hot

Forging Crispy Skin

And, yes, this was really delicious.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday — Chris, Grant, Ryan and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps is Chris Young, Grant Crilly and Ryan Matthew Smith.
Sign up for our free online sous vide cooking class and join our forum.