Friday, April 04, 2008

the paco jet

is it overrated? is it wonderful? I've had a couple conversations recently about this thing and, for me, I kinda have a hard time respecting it...

At Oleana, Maura had a pacojet because chef Ana saw one on her kitchen tour of WD-50, I think it was, and determined they needed to get one. She used it for sorbet, but spun her ice creams upstairs in the office, in this old and crotchety machine they got from Toscanini's when they first opened.

{this, in itself, is commentary enough on the boston scene...everybody knows everybody else, and they are generally sort of helpful in a noncompetitive, say, when you're deciding to open a bakery, too, why not get information from the owner of the (arguably) most successful bakery in town? the sf scene is, shall we say, different.}

Maura was particular about using the pacojet only for sorbets, but was vague as to the reason why. I next encountered the pacojet on a trail back in September, where I had to re-spin all the ice creams for service and was slightly terrified I'd break the thing.

I do hear that by using a pacojet for ice creams, you've got to change the nature of your base and stabilize the fuck out of it. Which feels intrinsically wrong to me. Not to mention that the cannisters are so damn small (and kinda quenelle-unfriendly, I'd say).

But then that just raises another question. What's the best quantity to produce ice cream in, for a restaurant setting. At Sonsie we'd spin about 6 quarts in some tiny ic maker with a continuous freeze chamber. So all day it'd be spin the ice cream, keep checking on it...bust out other stuff....check the ice cream, spin more ice cream...and by the end of the day we'd have gone through the batch of base. Now we spin probably the same amount, 4-6 quarts I'd say, and that goes into 2 or 3 containers and takes not-very-long to spin. and generally gets used up I'd say in about 2 weeks' time, maybe more. Hard to say.

And that just brings up another question. How does the freezer affect taste? The constant tempering and re-tempering, does it affect the quality of the ice cream? After a week or after a month? I taste all our ice creams fairly often (if not daily) because I'll use any excuse to eat ice cream and I notice sometimes the texture is different to work with/quenelle. But not the taste.

It's sort of hard to meditate on ice cream and not be able to eat some right then and there. {I have, literally, NO FOOD, in my house. like, coffee beans and half a lemon.} Perhaps tomorrow after I look at yet another apartment, I shall take myself to Maggie Mudd.


Dana said...

When you use the paco jet you keep the base frozen solid, and then spin it just before you use it. Once you are out of the little canister, you spin a second. This way there is no tempering, and your base is kept frozen solid until it is needed. Reformulating your recipes doesn't necessarily change their nature. You just need a lower fat content, so you use more milk than cream. And the stablizers are used as emulsifying agents in place of eggs.

So really, all you need to do is make your exact same base just substituting milk for part of the cream, and possibly reducing the sugar.

Some people reformulate recipes to be eggless to change the flavor. It's also common to use milk and milk solids instead of cream. These fancy formulas have more to do with flavor release.

Spinning the ice cream to order is actually really convenient because it is always nice and soft, and you never have to temper anything. Plus you never have extra getting freezer burned.

My cooks that learned to quennelle out of the paco containers can't do it out of anything else!

rich said...

I too, have been contemplating ice cream. As we move closer to having our machine hooked up at work, I want to make really nice gelato. but it has been a while. I made a batch of blackberry sorbet base to use when we get the machine hooked up. And I am wondering how it will come out.

The stuff I have been making at home on my xmas present has been not so great. Is this because I dont have access to the ingredients I have at work? I.e. glucose, dextrose, milk powder...or becuase I dont remember how to do what needs to be done...or is it just becuase I have only ever used one machine.

The paco jet...I have never used one...but is it really ice cream? Or is it jsut a cool toy that makes somehting similar to ice cream?

Busy all the time. said...


interesting, about the quenelling...and though I've heard that people do spin to order with the paco jet, my only experience of it is spinning at the beginning of the night just before service begins...

I agree there's a comfort factor when you get used to your machine. I'm much more comfortable with my lil cuisinart ic maker at home than I am with our carpigiani at work...

Aaron said...

I have so much to say about your questions...not the paco jet ones, but the ice cream ones.
Perhaps here is not the place, as I could write a dissertation.
However, a lot of your questions could be answered by Harold McGee's ice cream section. I read it every night for a month when I started my current job.

FaustianBargain said...

i too remember only dealing with sorbets with the pacojet. maybe an ice cream or three, but there were a LOT of sorbets. i think there was at least a dozen containers at any given time and it was great for doing things in small quantities and the quality was awesome.the prep is ridiculously easy.

dana, i know what you mean about the quenelle'g! it took me a little while to nail the technique tho'..the slight twist and palm caress before sliding it down. dessert quenelles are a single spoon affair unlike the giant quenelles they taught me to make in culinary school with a pair of spoons.

i was once in the kitchen when the pacojet broke down , but most kitchens should have a back up machine while the broken one is sent out for repair. of course, not all kitchens can afford two pacojets. cons? they are too expensive.