Monday, October 26, 2015

Recipe Conversion and Consistency

The Ultimate Guide to Recipe Calculation

Recipe Writing and Conversion

I recently completed a cook chill recipe project. The scope of work was defined as developing, writing and testing over 100 menu items. These furnished menu items were already set in stone. Some of the protein items, beef, chicken and turkey, would be cooked in cook tank and added to the prepared sauce, soup, or casserole, then pumped, bagged and chilled. At least that was the theory going in. As the project progressed it morphed into some of the items using raw protein. After some discussion it was determined that we would break the recipes down into "like" groups, test 5 of each, after identifying the recipes that were crucial to each groups success, and apply the recipe format to the following menu items. So we set off on a 4 week writing campaign. To be followed by a 5 - 6 week testing phase. The batch size for the steam jacketed kettle was 100 gallons, we would be testing 50 gallon recipe batches, then this would be converted to metric, before undergoing a nutritional analysis. And finally a 3 - 4 week revision and retesting process. Over all I feel that the project was a success. 
   In reality I knew that there would be some revision necessary, once these recipes hit the production floor - viscosity for example is a matter of opinion, some chef's or manages think a sauce should be thicker and some think it will need to be thinner. So, in the year that these recipes have been in use there has been some of that to be sure. However, some of the recipes were spot on, as was the case for baked beans. One of the hurdles we faced was in adding pasta to a casserole. Pasta is one of those items that will just keep cooking as long as heat is present, eventually absorbing so much moisture that it just disintegrates. Our theory was to add the uncooked pasta last, the reasoning was that after a 10 minute BOT COOK at 90 C, the pasta would still be under cooked somewhat and it would still have to chill to below 5 C and would finish cooking in that time, most likely 2 hours. Of course it was never going to be perfectly cooked as it takes about 20 - 30 minutes to pump a 100 gallon kettle into a 7 liter bag, clip it and get it into the chill tank. Mean while the pump out temperature on the control panel is set at 75C. So there is still a bit of prolonged cooking that takes place.  
    I am attaching a recipe that we produced last week, a funny thing happened on the way to Bath! These recipes have now undergone 4 separate iterations! Meaning that they have been employed in 4 separate institutions. Also something else that took place here was that when the nutritional analysis was done the computer program skewed some of the measurements, and when the recipes were printed out there was a printer error and some of the ingredients and production steps were missing. Okay, so in the second to last institution, the production levels are so high that some of the recipes have to be cooked in 2 kettles in order to meet the needs of the population served. So, the manager there decided he wanted to condense some of the soups, so that he would not have to use 2 kettles, only one thereby reducing his number of production turns each day. The theory was postulated that this could be accomplished by reducing the amount of water by half and doubling the amount of vegetable particulate in those soups that were being concentrated. 
   One of the other factors that contribute to a recipe being a success or failure is the order of use of the ingredients listed. This is culinary school 101!!!! Ingredients are listed in order of use. The method needs to clearly state the cooking method, instruction, temperature and time needed for each recipe stage. The client removed the method, cook time and temperature from all the recipes. In addition, they are using the reasoning that the procedure is the same for all recipes - cook to 190C for 10 minutes, reduce temperature to 85C, cook 10 minutes, add remaining ingredients and do a BOT Cook for additional 10 minutes. This is all for expediency! This will not work for all recipes, a good example would be baked beans, those beans have to cook for at least 45 minutes before you add the remaining ingredients, just in order to get soft!
   So here's what's happened - we produced 5 recipes in total for the last facility - all of them have been adulterated and all of them overflowed the kettle. For a system that professes to insure consistency, it is only as good as the cooks and management that are using it. Unfortunately, for the client, I see many issue to combat, just in general, your recipe should not be one of them.

 Look over the format of the following recipe, this is one of the soups that were "concentrated" and the yield was greater than the kettle volume. 

The Ultimate Guide to Recipe Calculation

Cook Chill Recipe
Recipe Name: Barley Lentil Soup               Recipe#:

Production Style:  Kettle                             Batch Size: 100 gallons

Portion Size:  6oz Number of Portions: 2133                                              
Date: Supervisor:                      

INGREDIENTS                                                  SPECIFICATIONS
1. WATER                                                  60 GALLONS
2. BEEF BASE                                            14 LBS
3. DICED CARROTS                                  42 LBS
4. DICED ONION                                      32 LBS
5. DICED CELERY                                     27 LBS
6. GRANULATED GARLIC                       1 LBS
7. DRIED THYME                                     4 OZ
8. DRIED MARJORAM                           2 OZ
9. BLACK PEPPER                                   3 OZ
9. GREEN LENTILS                                  25 LBS
10. BARLEY                                              25 LBS
11. DICED POTATOES                            23 LBS  
13. FLOUR                                               3 LBS
14. MODIFIED FOOD STARCH             3 LBS


1. Inspect the weight and condition of all ingredients.
2. Combine 55 gallons water and base in kettle. Set temperature to 185F.
3. Add carrots, onions, celery, garlic, dried herbs, black pepper and lentils and barley to kettle.
4. Cook at 185F with agitator on low speed for 20 minutes.
5. Stop agitator and add diced potatoes, and stewed tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes with agitator on low speed and set point at 185F.
6. Combine the flour and starch with the remaining 5 gallons of water to form a slurry.
7. Stop agitator to add the slurry to the soup, restart agitator, cook 10 minutes or until the soup is thickened and set point of 185F is reached.
8. Pump.  

9. Set pump speed at ____ and agitator speed on _____ to _______.
10. Fill casing with _____ quarts of _____ (180° F) per casing. Label. Hold each casing for 3 minutes to allow for inside of
casing surface pasteurization. Check seal before adding the casing to the chiller. Put a special label on the last casing so this casing can
be found in the chiller. The product temperature of this casing is measured to assess cooling of contents of all casings before they are
removed from the chiller.

11. Place in chiller water (35° F). Chill < one hour. Make sure the chiller water has 5 ppm chlorine or equivalent chemical.
When temperature of control casing is < 40° F, all casings can be removed.
12. Put casings (<40° F) one layer deep in storage racks on the cart.

13. Allow food to deep chill to 29° F (+/- 1° F) in < 12 hours.
14. Hold at 29° F (+/- 1° F) and use within < _____ days.
Place casing in boiling water and heat for 165F.
Now I know that the HACCP guidelines will change the structure of these recipes somewhat - however, I think that there should be more thought given to the individual steps to insure consistency.