Culinary Arts Project

Let Them Eat Brioche, and Sweating like a pig! – Day 55

Hi everyone, it’s Joanne here. Stewart was sick, so I volunteered to fill in for today. Like Stewart, I’ve changed careers, I used to be a theatre director in LA – now I’m taking the culinary program because I want to write my father’s Italian cookbook, and learn better technique. You can find out more about me here:

Today was a bit crazy…. and hot! Yesterday the heating wasn’t working properly in the building, so we all froze. Today several of us came prepared with extra layers, but unfortunately the heating WAS working, so we are all dripping in sweat.

Alton and Meagan digging into the pig's head
Alton and Meagan digging into the pig’s head
Chef John demoing kneading
Chef John demoing kneading

We had lots to do, because we have one more day to prepare our charcuterie buffet. First the pig’s head (yuck). We took the head and submerged it in a court bouillon and poached it for 5 hours. Then we had to pull all the various parts of the head off for preparation tomorrow. To be honest, I couldn’t do it, but Meagan, Alton and Jess did an amazing job. The only two pieces we didn’t use were the teeth and the back of the tongue.

We also had our three breads to finish up. The brioche was the most complicated – it has to be preshaped, final shaped, and final proofed. Then it got an egg wash (for the browning), and then in the oven. The focaccia was easier, we mixed all the ingredients, laid it out to rest in a tray, and then when it was ‘stretchable like mozzarella’, we baked it at 450F. We also made a third bread, a lavash, which is a flatbread and goes well with charcuterie products. I helped to grill those with Alton and Jessica. All three breads tasted amazing. One lesson that Chef John imposed on us, was that ‘when the bread is ready to go, drop everything else’ – the bread controls you. There is a fine line between ‘perfectly’ proofed and ‘over’ proofed bread.

Our mini-brioches
Our mini-brioches
Smoked trout, looking a little sad
Smoked trout, looking a little sad

We did an entirely new preparation today as well, a pork rillette. A rillette is similar to a paté, but a lot of fat is used to maintain a spreadable quality. Chef John told us to make one the consistency of ‘a sloppy joe. I didn’t think it tasted that great to be honest.

We also did a lot of smoking. The wild board sausages were first smoked at 110F to form an outer skin, and then the smoker was turned up to 195F to cook it. There are two types of smoking, hot and cold. Cold doesn’t actually cook the protein, so you have to be more careful. Hot smoke does cook the protein, but you can dry things out more quickly.

Thanks for reading everyone. Hopefully Stewart will be back tomorrow.


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