- Briefly fry your spices before using, it brings out their flavour significantly.
- Removing the wishbone when quartering a chicken makes it much easier to carve the breast.
- When plating sautéed chicken, don’t cover the nicely browned skin with sauce.
- Never boil meat, simmer it. Simmering water is at 195, boiling water is at 212. Those extra 17 degrees is tough on the meat and will dry it out – and then there’s “nuttin joo can doo” to fix it.
To my great relief, we didn’t have to kill any chickens today, but we did have to learn how to properly quarter whole chickens. Weirdly, the most repeated word today was “oyster”. Have you have heard of an “oyster” in a chicken? I certainly hadn’t. There’s this little piece of dark meat near the thigh that has to remain attached to the thigh when we quarter the chicken, or we loose points in our final, so all day it was “where’s your oyster”, “look out for the oyster”. Quartering the chicken seemed definitely harder than filleting the fish. Steps in order were: clip the wings, remove the wish bone, mark out the oysters with a cross, cut out the leg and thigh (including the oyster), expose the thigh bone, cut out the neck, mark the breastbone, separate the sides, pop out the mid-bone, deknuckle the legs, trim.
We made two classic dishes today. The Mediterannean Chicken was basically a delicious stew, with some spices from the eastern end of the mediterannean. There were 22 ingredients to this one, not including the 11 in the aoli, so you definitely had to have your mise en place ready to go. The spices were fenel seeds, turmeric (relieves joint pain btw), pepper flakes, capers, various olives and caper berries. The second dish was sautéed chicken with a chasseur sauce. Chicken sautéed in clarified butter, then basted with regular butter, in the oven for 15mins till chicken temp was 150. The chasseur sauce was delicious, consisting of veal stock (enriched with our extra chicken bones and mirepoix, then reduced), mushrooms, shallots, brandy flambé, white wine, tomato fondue, herbs. Yum.
Key to the traditional plating of chicken is to insure that you have one piece of dark meat with a bone, and one piece of white meat without a bone, or vice-versa. I screwed this up, because after mistakenly covering everything with sauce I couldn’t tell what was what.
INITIATION DAY: Now sliced onions might not sound impressive. But today, the chef from the restaurant on the main floor called up for a vat of sliced onions for his French onion soup, which we all prepared at the end of the day. I ‘emenceed’ three onions. This is officially my first participation in a restaurant prepared meal, yeaaah!!!!!!!!!
Our first practical exam is next Friday, and I’m definitely not up to speed yet. I’m buying a bag of potatoes, and “cocotting” my weekend away!