Cookbook Review: The Flavor Matrix

As a two-time winner of Chopped and an instructor at one of the world’s top culinary school, James Briscione thought he knew how to mix and match ingredients. Then he met IBM Watson. Working with the supercomputer to turn big data into delicious recipes, Briscione realized that he (like most chefs) knew next to nothing about why different foods taste good together. That epiphany launched him on a quest to understand the molecular basis of flavour—and it led, in time, to The Flavor Matrix.

A groundbreaking ingredient-pairing guide, The Flavor Matrix shows how science can unlock unheard-of possibilities for combining foods into astonishingly inventive dishes. Briscione distills chemical analyses of different ingredients into easy-to-use infographics and presents mind-blowing recipes that he’s created with them. The result of intensive research and incredible creativity in the kitchen, The Flavor Matrix is a must-have for home cooks and professional chefs alike: the only flavour-pairing manual anyone will ever need.

The Flavor Matrix: The Art and Science of Pairing Common Ingredients to Create Extraordinary Dishes is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


Spicy Yogurt and Lemongrass-Marinated Chicken with Pomegranate

Spicy Yogurt and Lemongrass-Marinated Chicken with Pomegranate

Photograph by Andrew Purcell

Besides being gorgeous, this grilled chicken recipe dish is incredibly simple. The pomegranate, yogurt, and herbs play up each other’s hidden floral notes. If you’re feeling bold, try substituting duck breast or boneless quail for the chicken in this recipe.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

½ cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro stems

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 jalapeño chile, minced

One 3-to 4- inch stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced, or several dashes lemongrass bitters (recipe follows)

Kosher salt

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Olive oil


GARNISH

Sliced avocado

Fresh cilantro leaves

Fresh mint leaves

Pomegranate seeds

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, lime zest and juice, yogurt, cilantro stems, mint, jalapeño, and lemongrass. Mix well and season to taste with salt. Reserve ¼ cup of the yogurt mixture.

Add the chicken to the remaining yogurt and mix to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Heat a grill until medium-hot and oil the grates well. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet and place it next to the grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off any excess. Discard the marinade. Lightly coat the chicken with oil and season with salt. Grill the chicken over the heat, flipping it once, about 12 minutes per side until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the chicken to the wire rack to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving; it should reach 165°F.

Serve the chicken garnished with the reserved yogurt, avocado, cilantro, mint, and pomegranate seeds.

Lemongrass Bitters

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP

These lemongrass bitters are delicious in cocktails, but you can also use them to up your baking game. Add the bitters to any recipe that calls for vanilla extract, in addition to or in place of the vanilla. They are especially good in chocolate desserts and cookies.

1 stalk lemongrass

8 pods cardamom

1 cinnamon stick, crushed

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

4 branches fresh rosemary

1 cup grain alcohol or high-proof vodka

Trim the root end from lemongrass and discard. Cut 3 inches of the pale stalk starting from the trimmed end, and slice crosswise as thin as possible. (Reserve the remaining lemongrass stalk and leaves for another use.) Combine the lemongrass, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, and rosemary in a glass jar. Add the alcohol and seal tightly. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Store in a cool, dark place for 3 weeks, shaking the jar vigorously every couple of days to promote infusion.

After 3 weeks, strain the bitters through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar or bottle. Seal tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Bitters will keep almost indefinitely.

Copyright © 2018 by James Briscione. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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