I don’t consider myself a stoner. OK, fine—I’ve never smoked weed in my life. My mom’s freaky stories of getting high in the ’70s have always haunted me, so I’ve never been interested in drugs of any kind. Which is exactly how I ended up in a Cooking with Cannabis class at The Brooklyn Kitchen. The class promised zero cliches and made the idea of weed somehow chic to me.
Let me start off with a small disclaimer: For obvious reasons, the class itself did not include actual weed. Instead, the instructor, Michael Cirino from food-art collective A Razor, A Shiny Knife, taught a class of around 15 hopeful stoners about the wonders of infusing alcohol and butter with weed-inspired herbs. But! Before you think I’m Pollyanna-ing out on you, all the recipes he provided are designed to include the real deal in the privacy of your own home.
The first and most important thing to know about cooking with cannabis is the dosage. While smoking a joint can have an immediate effect, ingesting it can take 60 to 90 minutes to kick in. (Reason number one to not to eat all the pot brownies.) The second key point is that the only way you can infuse food with weed is through alcohol and fat, which obviously has its ups and downs.
The instructor told the class that there are two ways to approach getting high through food: Think about the concept of how coffee makes you feel versus how a cocktail makes you feel. Both obviously have an effect. But drinking coffee is much less serious commitment than say, having a cocktail.
If you want a slight buzz to relax you, use 1 gram of cannabis for every 30–50 grams of solvent (a.k.a. alcohol, butter, etc.). The instructor refers to this as a “coffee effect.” You can use it if you just want to relax a little bit. If you want the stronger effect, a.k.a. the “cocktail” version, use 1 gram of cannabis for every 20–25 grams of solvent. Remember to do the math before you get started!
Now, the stoner version of your high-school chemistry lesson: When cooking with weed, it’s important that the actual cannabis be decarboxylated. Decarboxylation is the natural process that happens when smoking or vaporizing—the high temperatures applied to the cannabis create a chemical reaction in which the THC is fully activated. You can decarboxylate the weed yourself, before cooking, with this simple recipe from Herb.co.
- Preheat the oven to 240° F / 115° C.
- Break up cannabis flowers and buds into smaller pieces with your hands.
- Put the pieces in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure the pan is the correct size so there is no empty space on the pan.
- Bake the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so it toasts evenly.
- When the cannabis is darker in color, a light to medium brown, and has dried out, remove the baking sheet and allow the cannabis to cool. It should be quite crumbly when handled.
- In a food processor, pulse the cannabis until it is coarsely ground (you don’t want a superfine powder). Store it in an airtight container and use as needed to make extractions.
In some recipes—such as for brownies—the decarboxylation process will happen as the weed is cooked into the butter. Just make sure to read your recipe beforehand and note whether the cannabis is decarboxylated or not in the ingredients list.
While taking the “Cooking with Cannabis class” hasn’t converted me into a stoner, it’s definitely opened up my mind to what edibles and snack foods might look like in just a few years. Ahead, three recipes that will get you high, courtesy of Brooklyn Kitchen’s class.
Strip Steak with Cannabis Tallow Butter
4 (12 oz) strip steaks
Olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Brush steaks with oil, season, and add to pan. Sear until a golden brown crust has formed, then flip and sear other side. A medium-rare steak should take about 10 minutes to cook. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve with Cannabis Tallow Butter.
Cannabis Tallow Compound Butter
Makes 20 15-gram (1 tablespoon) serving doses at 1–3 mg per dose
100 g tallow (available at fine butcher shops or online)
200 g butter
1 g cannabis, decarboxylated
½ shallot or 1 bunch ramps, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs: parsley, tarragon, and thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place a small pot with 2 inches of water on medium heat and bring to a simmer. Combine the tallow and the cannabis in a stainless-steel or glass bowl and place over the steaming water (be sure the bowl is not touching the water). Heat for 20 minutes; take off heat and let cool slightly.
2. When cool, add the shallot, herbs and a large pinch of salt to the butter and mix with a wooden spoon until combined; taste and adjust seasoning.
Cannabis Cocoa Brownies
Inspired by Alice Medrich
Makes 25 small brownies
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks, 140 grams) unsalted butter, divided in two parts
1.25 grams cannabis
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-x-8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
2. Finely grind cannabis. Place cannabis and half of the butter in a double boiler and cook for 3 hours (this is the decarboxylation process). Let butter cool slightly.
3. Combine the cannabis butter with the remaining butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside until just warm.
4. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously to incorporate. Add the flour, stirring until it just disappears into the batter.
5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely, then slice into small squares.
Add these to your favorite cocktail.
Makes 50 mL cannabis bitters, 1– mg per 0.5 mL dose—about one dropperful
Note: This recipe uses special equipment: see details below
1 g cannabis, decarboxylated
50 mL Spirytus, or high-proof grain alcohol
1. Combine the Spirytus and cannabis in an iSi whipper with a cream charger and charge twice, gently shaking after each charge.
2. After infusing for 10 minutes, release the pressure and remove the lid. Strain through an Aeropress with a double paper filter, and store in a dropper bottle.
Aeropress Coffee maker / filters