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Old 03-18-2008, 02:13 PM   #1
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ISO help/advice with flambe

I'm going to try my very first flambay tonight, using cognac. I've read a recipe or two, but is there anything I need to know? I'd prefer not setting my house on fire.

also, I'm curious as to the exact purpose of flambaying. I've heard things like "it caramelizes the meat" (I'm doing chicken), but then what would be the difference between using cognac and using just vodka or some other (reasonably) tasteless alcohol? Does the taste of the cognac really get imparted into the chicken?

Finally, I'm using an electric stove. I know that makes things a bit different in that I have to light the cognac myself, but is there any other differences?



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Old 03-18-2008, 03:00 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by crono760
I'd prefer not setting my house on fire.
I am more concerned about you setting yourself on fire....

How do you intend to ignite the alcohol/brandy?? It happens quickly, often times with a quick flash at ignition....Be careful of hair, eyelashes, hands etc. If the pan is extremely hot, sometimes it will ignite on contact with the pan....

It does add flavor to a sauce, meats, etc.

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Old 03-18-2008, 03:20 PM   #3
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Safety is foremost. Never add cognac to a pan on the burner! Remove the pan from the burner and turn away from the stove and add the cognac. Return the pan to the burner ready to deal with an immediate flaming of the cognac. If it does not flame on its own. tip the pan to collect the liquid at the edge opposite the handle and pull the pan back partially off the burner so it will ignite. Be prepared with a lid to cap the pan if the fire gets out of control.

Cognac adds flavor. The flambe' serves to burn off some of the alcohol and its harsh flavor.
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:36 PM   #4
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I came in here ready to post, but Andy has already said just about everything there is to say. I will reiterate that you should have a lip ready so that if it does get out of control then you can put the lip on and put the fire out. Have a fire extinguisher near by too (as you always should in the kitchen anyway). Do not wear loose cloths.

Since you are using an electric stove, you will probably need to light it with a match. Use a long fireplace match or one of those electric matches.
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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note to crono: geebs has asbestos lips. Nevertheless, I think he meant lid
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:56 PM   #6
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haha thanks guys. I took your advice, didn't set myself OR my house on fire, and made a really rippin' pear syrup like so:

Pears (cut up thinly, I used Bartlet)
Strawberries (cut in half, leaves and top removed)
Grapes (also cut in half)

2oz Marsala wine, reduced with brown sugar. Add the fruit and cook for a little while to soften.

2oz Brandy, flambe

Let cool, put underneath a large dollop of whipped cream :-)

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Old 03-19-2008, 09:58 AM   #7
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Mascara is also a baddie too close to an open flame. Each time I had to light my gas grill with a match, it would take me so long the flames would shoot out and my mascara would melt and clump my eyelashes together, which while not a good look is even worse when the upper and lower ones have melted together!!! Needless to say, I now have an auto-lighter that actually works.
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:03 PM   #8
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Let me describe how my chef-instructor in college taught me to flambe:

The side of the pan with the handle is 6 o'clock. The opposite side of the pan is 12 o'clock.

Pull the pan partially off the burner, so the 12 o'clock is in the center of the burner. Turn the burner to HIGH. Tilt the pan slightly so the fluids in the pan run to 6 o'clock, but do not run OUT of the pan. Heat the 12 o'clock side until it begins to smoke.

While that is heating, make sure the booze in question is poured into a small cup or container.

When 12 o'clock smokes, pour the booze into the juices that have collected at 6 o'clock. In one smooth, single motion, slide the pan back over the burner so it is centered on the burner, while simultaneously tilting the pan back to level. As the fluids run back to cover the hot 12 o'clock part of the pan, the alcohol should ignite.

Now, that's with a gas stove. On an electric, you can really do that, as the pan just won't get hot enough until the entire pan is smoking hot. Everyone else is right on, though. Keep a long match, or one of those electric lighters (I have one at work, and am proficient at drawing/twirling, then lighting the burner (pilots don't work), and twirling/holstering the lighter. It's all about showmanship.

The key, though, is to make sure you ARE NOT HOVERING OVER THE PAN WHEN IT IGNITES! I'm comfortable with a flaming pan in my hand, but at arm's length from my body. I haven't lost eyebrows yet, but the hair on my knuckles tends to get burned off every week or so from flares on the stove.

I've got a good pic (actually, several), of me flambeing a pan at work. I may have to resize it and post it here.
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:27 PM   #9
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Burn, baby, burn.

So I unknowingly poured the alcohol into this one while it was on the stove, but it didn't ignite. Should I consider myself VERY lucky or are you not in danger of alcohol igniting on-the-pour if you pour direct into a pan that's on an electric stove?
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:50 PM   #10
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With an electric stove it usually takes a match to light. Boy, what I wouldn't give for some bananas foster right now! BTW - that's a HUGE flame!!! I don't think I've ever had anything light quite like that!

Also, just to add a little side note - if your microwave is above your stove do the flambe somewhere else. There's usually not enough clearance for a flame.


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