Learning to shuggle with nick nairn and falcon – Induction Frying Pan Manufacturer

Nick Nairn s voice is dark and gravelly the result, he tellsus, of a long and hard session at the bar the night before. Helooks reasonably good on it relatively unlined for his 53 yearsand his hard-work, hot-kitchen career and the only sign of ahangover is his need for strong coffee and one of his favouriteginger nut biscuits for dunking. We dunk with him. We are inAberdeen, at his newest cook school, test driving one of hiscourses and the brand new Falcon cookers he s installed in this, his second,school. Nick s quick to distance himself from the sort of celebrityendorsements he hates.

You know the ones, anything anywhere as longas it pays well, first this product, then that one, and another seemingly without a thought about what the commercial arrangementsmight do to their reputations. He believes in long-termrelationships. He first fell in love with Falcon cookers after discovering one, in bits and on sale for 50, over 25years ago. He installed it in his kitchen and five years later,when he was awarded his first Michelin Star, there it was, still inhis kitchen. The cookers are in his hotel kitchens; he has workedwith Falcon on recipe development; he has the latest luxury model(the 1092 Deluxe, since you ask) at home; and today I m looking at12 of them, all China blue and stainless steel, glinting from theScottish sunshine streaming through the stained glass windows ofthis handsome, spacious, tall-ceilinged classroom.

He had to hire acrane and take the doors off to get them into position in thislisted building, formerly rooms attached to the local parishchurch. I can feel the pain of the extra costs he faced. After a quick toast to Falcon a raising of his coffee cup, aswig to halt that hangover he moved on to the day s course.Three courses, actually, called A Dinner Party to Impress: potatopancakes with grilled vegetables, pesto and poached egg; theperfect steak with Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar; and raspberry cr mebrul e. A little pedestrian? Not very Michelin Star? Perhaps, butdon t be fooled.

As Nick explained, his courses are all aboutbuilding blocks. You learn a technique that can be transferred toother, more complex recipes, and let s admit it who hasn tmucked up a poached egg, flabbified or crucified a steak, andavoided making a cr me brul e because it seems far too risky? We tackle the cr me brul e first. And this is the point ofcookery courses. It s not just about working through the recipe;it s equally about the snippets of information you pick up alongthe way. As Nick says, no pudding puts a chef in the spotlight more than acr me brul e.

Will it be too runny, or scrambled? Will thetopping be a thick, impossible to penetrate slab of caramel thatpushes down in one piece, squirting the cr me east, west, northand south over everything and everyone or will it be an equallyembarrassing runny pool of murky liquid? To avoid these problems wewill not be using a bain-marie in the oven where the little potscan t easily be seen, making it hard to check when it s ready.Instead, the cr me bit will be made like custard in a pan onthe easier-to-control induction hob. That’s tip one. To check it sready, we ll use a Thermapen that tells us when it s reached exactly the right temperature(82 to 85 ). Tip two.

To create the caramel we won t rely onthe cooker s roll-out grill (disappointing, that; I wanted to testeverything on the Falcon) but the cutest blow torch I ve everseen. Tip Three. We are watching intently. The session starts with a demo of eachcourse before we move to create them ourselves. He s separatingthe eggs not the Nigella or Jamie way of letting the white slipthrough the gaps between the fingers but properly, cleanly, usingthe shell.

The vanilla pod is scraped a real cr me brul e hasvanilla seeds through it and Nick whisks and stirs and takes themixture s temperature, again with that Thermapen, simultaneously.He moves the hob temperature up a notch not too much, not toofast he warns stirring till the custard reaches the perfectcreamy, neither runny nor solid, texture. He s on to the potato pancakes. The spuds have already been mashedto smoothness; the veg are peeled and sliced into slithers. Thisrecipe is about jazzing up after prepping mise en place, to usea chef s term; everything is in its place, ready to be finished.How do you freshen up cold mashed potato? Add spring onion. Thesecret of chargrilling? Put the veg on the griddle and leave them they caramelise at high temperatures and moving them reduces theheat.

Then to the poached egg. The important bits? The egg must besuper-fresh (the albumen should be thick and held together); thetemperature must be at 99 (possible thanks to the controllabilityof an induction hob); bring it to the boil then take it down to asimmer (bubbling slightly at the base); you must let the egg gointo the water, from a very short distance immediately above thewater, in a gentle movement. We cooked them early and slipped theminto ice-cold water, sliding them into hot water for 30 secondsbefore serving. And, no, when I did mine it didn t overcook and,yes, it was hot right the way through. (That’s his on the left andmine on the right.) In Nick s view, bought pesto is akin to grass cuttings andthere is no excuse for not whizzing it up at home.

Oil and garlic do them together first. Add herbs and parmesan last. Herecommends freezing it in an ice cube tray then separating thecubes into ziplock bags and putting them back in the freezer; theyshould last a year. If the mixture is too thick, add more oil tillit reaches drizzling consistency. Celebrity chefs indeed, all chefs have their ownidiosyncracies in the way they act, the way they work, or theterms they use.

We ve had Nigella s seductive flirting with thecamera; Jamie s tousle-haired, cheeky chappie pukka ; KeithFloyd s liberal use of alcohol and I don t mean in his recipes;and Nick Nairn has his shuggle . The potato pancake was in thepan, warming through and browning nicely. He gave it a shuggle .A bit of a shake, a light movement, enough to release it, makingsure the potato didn t stick, and allowing it to brownconsistently. He s keen on pan management too, working with happy pans with the ingredients in their correct state (steak should bebrought to room temperature before frying, basting it with a lot ofbutter) and temperatures that create the right amount of sizzle;too little sizzle and it s a sad pan; too much sizzle and it s anangry pan. Nick s tips for steak? Clearly, the quality of the beef isimportant (we used Aberdeen Angus sirloin, hung for 28 days); itshould be at room temperature at the start and is ready when thecentre reaches 38 to 40 (out came the Thermapen again); basting with butter is essential for flavour.

A perfectsteak has a caramelised crust but is still juicy; resting it isessential. Nick takes courses roughly once a month but if your dates don tmatch his you have no reason to be disappointed. His number two,John Webber (on the right in the photo), beats Nick in the MichelinStar stakes he s worked at two-star level, at Gidleigh Park and Kinnaird Country House , and trained alongside Anton Edelmann at the Savoy and AntonMosimann at the Dorchester. He s been teaching with Nick for 12years and his patience, warmth, encouragement and guidance kept ussteady and rescued me from one near-disaster.
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