TODAY’S GIBLETS

  • Flambéing does actually do something – the 500F temperature creates different chemical reactions and lends a slight caramelized flavor as well as burning off the harsher tasting alcohol. It’s not always for show.
  • When flambéing, take the pan off the burner, add the brandy, then put the pan back on the burner and tilt a little so the fumes catch fire.
  • In certain sautéing, you do want to move things around on the pan – each pan has hot and cold spots, so you want the food evenly cooked, the moving also helps coats the items with oil/butter…. and it looks cool
Sliced tongue, with potato salad and ravigote
Sliced tongue, with potato salad and ravigote
Sweetbreads... I mean thymus...I mean pancreas
Sweetbreads… I mean thymus…I mean pancreas

Can’t say I was over the moon about today’s dishes. I did manage to eat each one of them, and they were…..fine: nothing crazy and nothing entirely un-edible. The first dish of the day was sautéed liver, which we cooked up with caramelized onions, and a reduced veal stock with vinegar. This tasted like that liver dish you get in a diner….no foie gras.

The second dish was sweetbreads (these are neither sweet, nor bread, they are the thymus gland OR the pancreas organ – and look like brains). I’m incredulous that the food world seems so laissez faire about sweetbreads being either one – with all the specificities we’re learning, you’d think that the culinary world would have distinguished between a lymph system gland and a digestive organ), but apparently not. Anyway, these were poached, coated in Dijon, and then flour-egg-crumb-deepfried. These were served with a sauce grenobloise (brown butter, capers, parsley, and lemon) and polenta (cooked with a bouquet garni, and goat cheese). They tasted…..fine. Sweatbreads don’t have a very strong taste, so it really could have been anything under that deepfry.

Chef April assessing Joanne and Alton
Chef April assessing Joanne and Alton
Chef Jeff flambeeing some kidneys
Chef Jeff flambeeing some kidneys

Chef Jeff demonstrated a kidney dish, which was probably the most interesting and strongest tasting dish of the day (sautéed veal kidneys, flambéed, and served with a demi-glace, cream, mustard, vinegar reduction).

Then we were onto the tongues. These we had been simmering in a court bouillon (basically vegetable soup) all day. We then had to take them out, removed the skin covering and slice. This is where I had my personal YUCK moment. The tongues looked exactly like ….well…tongues, and I was peeling off that rough layer we all have on our tongues. I kept picturing all the food that had passed over this lamb’s tongue while it was alive. Once the tough skin came off, the meat was VERY very tender, and tasted ‘different’,

Lamb's tongues
Lamb’s tongues
Stew holds a tongue, shows a tongue, and eats a tongue
Stew holds a tongue, shows a tongue, and eats a tongue

and not too strong. We served this with a potato salad (my parsley slicing wasn’t refined enough), and an interesting tasting vinaigrette (a ‘ravigote’) which included a hard-boiled egg and capers. The Chef mentioned that dogs would love the tongues so I brought some home for Ajax.

We got the kitchen cleaned up a bit slow today, but with enough time to do our first Pate Brisée (shortcrust for tarts). This definitely seemed out of place today, but I can’t wait to start on the desserts. Unfortunately desserts don’t start for a while, but Chef wanted us to get learning our doughs early. The school also asked for volunteers to help create the massive Gingerbread House Dessert Display for the Bloomingdale’s Christmas Window, which I signed up for. That should be fun. Apparently they don’t often ask us lowly Level 2’s for this task, so I jumped on the opportunity.

It was a baguette from the baking class, and now off to feed the dog some tongues. (And studying for the exam tomorrow).

Stewart Borden
As a graduate of the International Culinary School, Stewart is currently testing recipes for a NYC Italian chef's cookbook. He is a film and theatre composer as well as an accomplished pianist and the bassist for the band Men in Suits.