Corn on the Cob Bourbon, ISI Infusions & Fat Washing

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Here is my
ridiculously overdue post about ISI infusions and fat washing.  If you’re not familiar with an ISI, it is a canister that traditionally uses N2O cartridges to make whipped cream, or CO2 to make carbonated beverages.  Last year, I took a class with Dave Arnold at The French Culinary Institute in NYC.  Dave also runs the blog and podcast Cooking Issues (www.cookingissues.com). During this class, Dave showed us his technique for rapid infusions using an ISI.  He has meticulously detailed it on his blog, so I won’t repost. You can find it on his site. Search for “Rapid ISI Infusions” or “Fast N Cheap”.    The basic idea is that the pressure inside the chamber will force liquid into the porous spaces of the other items in the chamber. When you quickly release the pressure, the essential oils are pulled out into the alcohol.   In about 5 minutes, you can make a flavored liquor or oil that previously took weeks to make.  Some of my favorites have been cocoa nib/toasted hazel nut Bourbon and yuzu/kaffir lime vodka.

This summer, Alex and Aki at Ideas in Food (www.ideasinfood.com)  seemed to be obsessed with charring everything, as well as making a lot of things with fresh corn and all of its components.  Somehow, I began thinking about roasted corn infused Bourbon.  Bourbon is made from corn, so it wasn’t a big leap.  Here’s how I did it.

Take a fresh ear of corn and throw it on the grill.  Keep turning it until it is well charred on all sides.  When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off of the cob and reserve.  Throw the cob back onto the grill and char it as well.

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Take the corn and the cob and put it into your ISI with Bourbon of choice (I used Buffalo Trace).  Charge it with one N2O charge and swirl for about a minute.  Let the pressurized canister sit for about 2 minutes.  When you release the pressure, you need to do it quickly.  You’ll want to put a container over the nozzle to catch any liquid that might come out.  I neglected to do this once and I ended up with Gin all over my kitchen curtains.

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After the pressure is released, pour contents through a strainer so that the solids are separated from the liquid.  Hold on to that corn because you’re going to want to microwave it with some butter and kosher salt for an amazing “boozy corn”.  At this point, your Bourbon should have picked up a nice, smoky corn flavor.  Now we want to fat wash it.

Fat washing is simply adding fat to liquid for flavor.  One of the more common techniques is adding bacon or bacon fat to bourbon.  I recently made suckling pig fat vodka, which made a killer martini. 

Clarify some butter (or don’t if you’re feeling lazy).  Pour the butter in a mason jar or plastic container with the Bourbon.  Shake it.  Leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.  Put the container in the freezer for a day until the fat rises to the top of the Bourbon.  Now, it’s easy to skim off.  Pour the rest through cheesecloth or a coffee filter.  Now you have delicious Corn on the Cob Bourbon.  It’s up to you what to do with it.  I like an ounce or two on the rocks.

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For my own piece of mind, I like to keep fat washed liquor in the fridge to avoid rancidity.  I discussed this with Dave Arnold at the recent Star Chefs ICC, as well as the bartenders from Alchemy Consulting.  The general consensus is that the liquor should be shelf stable for some time, since most of the fat has been removed, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep it refrigerated. 


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Chris Spear

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