- Put a little brown sugar in your chicken deep-fry batter – wow, amazing! (courtesy of Rachel)
- Deeply brown your chicken bones and trimming and add them to your sauce before straining – this adds a massive dimension to the taste.
- Slice your chicken breast rather than serving whole – it looks better, and allows more chicken to be covered in that wonderful sauce.
WE DID IT OUR WAY!!!! Today was “chicken your way” day, which means we each had to prepare chicken in whatever way we wanted, within the set of a given ingredients, and according to a recipe we had written and pre-submitted. With the risk of being boring, I’m going to list the ingredients so you can see what you might have come up with: 1 whole chicken, green beans, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, shallots, onions, rice, potatoes, cream, white wine, chicken stock, veal stock, v. oil, o. oil, butter, flour, s&p. Let me know what you’d do.
There were 5 minute time slots written on the board, starting at 12:05pm. I first put my name by the 12:30 timeslot, but then figured it was going to be 10 o’clock when I started cooking….how much time did I really need…. so I erased my name and put it up at the first time slot at 12:05 (right beside Joe’s). After a quick reminder demo of how to quarter a chicken by Chef J, the timer started. I really still haven’t got the full hang of quartering a chicken properly, but most of the steps are starting to come a bit more easily. My dish was a sautéed chicken with a mushroom wine sauce, smashed potatoes and Julia Child’s green beans provencale. I was sharing my station with Dalal and we worked very well together – though technically we were doing our dishes separately there was a lot of “do you need a spoon”, “let me get the cheese cloth”, “I’ll get the butter”, etc.. which was fantastic. For the first 30min my heart was totally pounding, but the panic faded into an unexpected calm… by the time I had my chicken quartered and my vegetables prepared and sauces reducing…well…now what do I do?…I still have 90min before I have to present….so I was actually trying to slow things down a bit….I want to get my chicken going, but I really don’t want to have it ready before my presenting time.
For those interested here were my execution steps in order: quarter the chicken and cool in fridge, prepare two bouquet garnis, start reducing the veal stock, peel 10 garlic cloves, brown the trimmings/bones and add to the stock, blanch my beans and then ice, emonder and concasser the tomatoes, sweat onions with bouquet garni and garlic, put the tomatoes over the onions, boil the potatoes with garlic and thyme, sautee the chicken, then butter and baste it with thyme & garlic and put in the oven for 20min, reduce a quart of cream in half, add beans to the tomatoes and let simmer, brown the mushrooms in the sauté pan then add wine and reduce and then add the strained veal stock and reduce, take the chicken out and rest, drain the potatoes and add the reduced cream with more garlic and butter and parsley and then smash them.
I still had 20min before presentation time, so I kept looking over at Joe who had to present at the same time, I decided that when he started plating I would start. At 7 minutes prior he started, so I did too – a pad of butter in the sauce, a pad of butter on the beans, a quick coating of butter on the chicken, plates out of the oven – potatoes on the dish then the beans, chicken, topped with the mushroom reduction sauce, and a little parsley, two towels around the plates and up to the front just behind Joe. The chefs said “wow, the first two dishes on time, impressive”.
I was over the moon having executed everything well, but was brought down to earth pretty quickly –the food got great marks for taste, but I had put too much food on the plate, the sauce was a tad too reduced, the beans needed more salt, and I left the rib bones in on the breasts… still, I felt pretty proud.
But I felt even more proud when I saw what the whole class produced – I almost cried looking at all the dishes and the amazing creativity, realizing how far we had all come. Special mention goes out to Nina who cut herself pretty badly to the point that the ambulance crew came, but she eventually picked herself back up and finished her dish – and also to Vitor and Megan who blew us away with those incredible dishes (a roulade and a vol-au-vent). Congrats to all, we made it!!!!!
This was definitely the highlight of Level 2. Chef J had us each describe our dish, and our personal highlight & lowlight of the dish, and then he gave his critique. I learnt more in that one hour than in weeks of reading textbooks.
Monday is wines and spirits – ugh…..the day before our final exam and they’re getting us drunk, oy vey!