Great strides continue to be made in the field of cannabis cuisine, with new underground THC-infused dinner series popping up everywhere, and a spate of cannabis cookbooks hitting the shelves this year. One self-taught chef who has worked very diligently to educate consumers is known as Jeff the 420 Chef, and his methods for cannabis infusions that remove the grassy taste are winning over new converts.
As detailed in The Ultimate Cannabutter Experiment, Jeff blanches his buds to remove the chlorophyll that imparts the telltale herbaceous flavor of cannabis, and then he makes his infusions into butter or oils. The resulting scentless and flavorless butter contains high levels of THC without much cannabis flavor, perfect for delicate savory dishes like fish or baked goods such as light pastries and cake.
I caught up with Jeff by phone just before the launch of his new cannabis cookbook, The 420 Gourmet, which is devoted to teaching amateur cooks how to accurately measure THC dosages at home. Using tables to estimate cannabis potency and with detailed instructions on basic infusions, Jeff then uses those infusions in recipes and calculates the approximate amount of THC in each serving. It’s a great tool, especially for those living in prohibition states.
Paired with Jeff’s indispensable online THC / CBD Dosage Calculator, this book represents a new frontier in edibles making. Scroll down for Jeff’s recipe for scrumptious Heath Bar Brownies that contain barely a hint of cannabis taste.
HT: What are your feelings about the potential for cannabis dining in the near future?
J420: Well, incumbent upon the states calling for legalization, I definitely think it’s a real feasibility. The thing with cannabis dining to be aware of is the fact that it takes a while for the edibles to kick in, and that’s an issue when it comes to the dining experience. Certain chefs have it down to a science, so you can just hire those people who know how to do it right, but there’s only a couple of us. As far as an actual cannabis restaurant, we’re probably a couple of years away from that type of experience.
HT: From a safety aspect, is it better to cook cannabis food for people in their homes?
J420: When I cook for people that are having a party, I say that if you’re going to do this, you need to do it right, so at the very least tell people that they should not drive. They should take an Uber to your event, and then go home in Uber, because the last thing that I want is for somebody to be eating the edibles and not realize how high they’re getting. I’m very adamant that people who enjoy the edibles should not be driving.
HT: What are the advantages to low dose dining?
J420: I do something called “layered micro-dosing” with the thought that the standard dose of cannabis is 10 milligrams, which allows me to control the experience to the point where people don’t get crazy, sick, paranoid, or anxious, because they don’t have too much THC. In all the events that I do, I make sure that nobody gets more than 20 milligrams, but the majority of people are anywhere between five and 12 milligrams.
HT: Are the majority of your clients cannabis naïve or using it for the first time?
J420: Many are, I cook a lot for people so I’ll do these recreational or adult use events and that works fantastic for these people, because they know what they’re in for. Some of your guests may be a little cannabis naïve, but the way that I do these events is to tell people that there’s only one milligram or two milligrams in these servings, and I help them figure out how much they should eat.
For people that are sick, a lot of times they’re not naive when it comes to cannabis, but they just don’t understand how edibles work. I cook for someone who has major lung issues, and they can’t smoke cannabis, but they loved the way it made them feel. In the past, this patient had a really terrible edible experience, so when it came to edibles they are naive, but not unfamiliar cannabis use.
HT: You are well known for removing the smell and taste of cannabis from your infusions but I’m wondering if there are any dishes where you feel like the cannabis flavor really does work?
J420: Sometimes I use the cannabis as a spice or add the flavor into it, but not always. For people who are doing a dinner party, they might wanna have infused food, but they don’t want everything to taste like cannabis, because then all of a sudden you’ve got this one note of flavor that carries through everything and it takes away from the actual food that you’re serving.
For me, taking the taste out so that you aren’t detecting the cannabis is important; but yes, there are certain times when it makes sense to use it as an herbal essence.
HT: Do you worry that when you do the blanching step that you’re losing terpenes?
J420: Terpenes start to deteriorate at about 200ºF to 214ºF and when you’re boiling and blanching it’s at 212ºF, so I do worry that I’m taking out some of the terpenes and I’m actually doing research now to figure out how to reintroduce terpenes into the butters and oils because I think that’s very important. What I worry more about is losing the terpenes during any sort of cooking application. Even if all of the terpenes are intact in my oil and butter, when I actually cook with the oil and butter in the food that I make, I cook everything at 340ºF or below, but I’m going to lose all the terpenes, those get pretty much annihilated with the temperatures in the ovens.
HT: What were the unique challenges you faced in offering this cookbook?
J420: Making sure that all of the recipes that I put in my cookbook were dosed properly. This is the first and only cookbook I know of in the cannabis states that number one: teaches you how to make butter and oil; number two: teaches you how to figure out your dosing; and number three: if you use my method of making the butter and oil, depending on the percentage of the THC or CBD and the strain that you use to infuse your butter or oil, it tells you how many milligrams of THC are in each serving.
HT: And how many times did you have to test the recipes?
J420: I’ve published recipes numerous times, and it wasn’t even me that did the testing, I did the initial testing, but we had an independent recipe tester do all the recipes as well.
HT: Were you getting lab test results?
J420: Yeah, I got lab test results on my butter and oil and that all as part of the dosage calculator app. I partnered with Med Spoon to take my formula for figuring out dosages per serving and turned it into a calculator on my website. Even more importantly, we made an app that we’ll launch soon called the THC/CBD Calculator and in order to do that properly I had to have my oils and my butter, as well as the starting bud, and the final cured and decarbed bud as well as the actual product that I made with it, tested by a lab. We tested it five different times and they all came back exactly the same with the same result that we had anticipated so we knew our formula was right.
Once I know the formula is right, and approximately how many milligrams of THC are in the butter that I’m using then I can take that one tablespoon of this butter or oil and I can’ tell you with high amount of certainty that within that tablespoon there are 15 milligrams of THC and when I use that in a recipe where I’m making five servings, then I can tell you that each serving is going to have three milligrams of THC per serving.
HT: Why should people want to cook at home versus buying an edible from a dispensary?
J420: Tons of reasons! First of all, when you buy an edible from a dispensary, you don’t like the taste of cannabis then you’re stuck with what you’ve got. The second thing is when you buy an edible in a dispensary, typically they’re anywhere from 25 to 150 milligrams or more. I felt like, well, ‘I’m buying this brownie and it’s a hundred milligrams so now I know that if I cut this brownie into four pieces it’s 25 and if I cut each one of those into half it’s twelve and a half mg,’ and then you have to hope that it was manufactured correctly.
This is a much more precise way of being able to control your own edible experience and cook it in foods that you like and make them taste great.
HT: Besides the cookbook and the dosage calculator, what other projects have you been working on?
J420: We’re pitching a TV show right now so we’ll see how that goes, and I am working on partnering with dispensaries to teach classes and an online course series. And then I have a podcast thing that I’m working on.
HEATH BAR BROWNIES
Gourmet brownies up the ante for stoner sweets.
By Jeff the 420 Chef
These are my most popular dessert, and there’s good reason for it. This is simply a chewy chocolate brownie, with cookie butter, roasted almonds, Heath bar, chocolate… and cannabis!
Use an ice cream scoop and “mini” baking mold for 24 equally dosed brownies.
Cooking spray (I prefer butter-flavored)
3 sticks grass-fed butter, melted
1 stick creamy canna-butter, melted
3 cups raw cane sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted and lightly salted almonds, crushed
1 cup Speculoos cookie butter
1 1/2 cup melting chocolate—2 colors (1 cup for base color and 1/2 cup for deco-drizzle)
4 Heath Bars or similar, crumbled into pieces
Preheat oven to 340ºF. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch brownie pan.
Combine the melted butter, melted cannabutter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.
Using a flour sifter, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a separate bowl. (It’s important to actually sift these ingredients instead of just tossing them together in a bowl.)
Gradually stir the dry mixture into the butter mixture until blended. Add the chocolate chips and almonds. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one or two of the middle brownies comes out clean. Remove, and cool the pan on a wire rack before releasing the brownies.
Cut into 24 equal pieces. Spread a layer of Speculoos cookie butter on top of each brownie and refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes.
In a medium Pyrex bowl, melt the chocolate for your base color with a pinch of Paramount Crystals for 20 seconds in the microwave. Stir well. Microwave again for 10 seconds. Stir briskly until smooth and creamy.
Insert a small fork into the side or bottom of a brownie. Dip the brownie in the chocolate, and use a small spatula to ensure that it’s evenly coated. Set the coated brownie on parchment paper. Repeat this process with the remaining brownies.
Sprinkle Heath Bar crumbles on the brownies while the chocolate is still warm.
In a clean bowl, melt the chocolate for your decorative color with a pinch of Paramount Crystals for 20 seconds in the microwave. Stir well. Microwave again for 10 seconds. Stir briskly until smooth and creamy. Swizzle melted decorative chocolate over brownies, and voilà!
The 420 Gourmet
Experience the joy of cooking with cannabis with this handy guide from Jeff the 420 Chef. Considerable information on accurate THC dosing is included so those at home can cook with confidence! Recipes include this game changing brownie, along with gourmet meals such as Poached Salmon, Sautéed Zucchini Leek Spaghetti, Beurre Blanc, and Parsleyed Potatoes. Jeffthe420chef.com