Curing, Pickling, Duck Confit, Gravlax and Bacalao – Day 9

TODAY’S TIDBITS

  • If your salmon has thick white lines in it, it is farmed (which almost all salmon is). Those white lines are Omega-6 fat, not the much-desired Omega-3 which are found in the wild salmon.
  • Use pink salt in your paté or it turns a pale grey
  • Bacteria need a certain water percentage to survive – by drying meat, or salting (which draws out the water), it lowers this percentage below where the bacteria can live – thus preserving the meat.
  • Smoking coats the meat with chemical which act as an antimicrobial and also preserves the meat.

Today was a bit like the calm after yesterday’s storm. We learnt about the methods of preservation (curing, cooking, smoking). We pickled lemons (for the rind which tastes much less tart after pickling), and made a jar of pickled vegetables (not sure what that is going to taste like). That part wasn’t too exciting. Then it picked up a bit. Duck Confit consists of opening up a duck leg/thigh, covering in a dry rub/cure (salt, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme) storing for a few days, drying, slow cooking it, and then preserving under a layer of fat). We all put our duck skins in a vat which Chef Veronica (“Vero”) rendered. At the end of class she poured out a whole saucepan of beautifully clear duck fat (can’t wait to cook potatoes in that).

Chef Veronika demonstrates Gravlax
Chef Veronica demonstrates Gravlax

She also demonstrated making Gravlax (brief coat of Aquavit, and a dry rub all over a salmon, placed over a bed of dill, and wrapped for a few days). The highlight of the day was the Bacalao (in the curriculum it’s “Brandade de Morue”, but we have lots of Spanish speakers in the class, and by the end of the day it was “Bacalao”. It’s a delicious paste of salted cod (which is a stronger flavor than regular cod), mashed potatoes, garlic, cream, olive oil, pepper, served on a baguette slice.

 

Salted Cod ready for processing
Salted Cod ready for processing

I bought everyone in the class some gripper mats for their cutting boards (so much better than the doughnut of dampened paper towels we’ve been using) which went much appreciated. We also got our tests back. In any school I have ever attended I have NEVER got a test back the NEXT DAY. Hat’s off to Chef Veronica for the amazingly quick turnaround! Got a 96%, screwed up one mayonnaise derivative, and I added my vegetables before boiling the water in the L’Anglaise recipe. Just as I was feeling pretty good about myself, Josue leans over, looks at my test and says “You write cursive?”…boy did I feel old.

Homework is recipe cards and then “taillaging” a carrot into Julienne, Jardiniere, Macedoine, and Paysanne.
ps: thanks Kiong and Richard for the pink salt.

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