- Cut a small slit in your papillote when pulling it out of the oven so it doesn’t deflate (more on this dish next week).
- Your pasta dough is properly kneaded when you stick your finger in it and it springs back 90% of the way.
- Use clarified butter to brown your croutons to get a beautiful even brown colour.
Today was the day Chef Dominique had been subtly warning us about for the past three weeks. My half of the class had to prepare Poached Eggs with Hollandaise over macedoined vegetables plus Boeuf Bourguignon and the other half had Bass en Papillote and the Lemon Tart. And it was pure chaos!!!!
Everyone was running everywhere, there were burnt and spilt tarts, broken and curdled Hollandaises, fresh pasta too hard to cut into fettuccine, sauces that weren’t reducing, eggs that were too cold or over poached, there was a fire alarm, ovens at all the wrong and different temperatures, papillote that weren’t sealing, etc… Even the normally calm and genial “ICC Mayor Joe” didn’t have time to answer questions.
I really wanted to nail these dishes. I had served my first poached eggs and Hollandaise to my brother and his wife on a visit and it was a total disaster – the eggs were cold and the hollandaise didn’t work at all. Ugh. So I had a personal rivalry going with this dish. And also, this beef dish was the one that got Julia Child her book deal. It really is a classic dish. Chef told us this dish was “old school, but old school was goooood schoooool”. But my dishes definitely weren’t gooooooood school today.
The eggs sound pretty simple: Place two eggs in 180F degree water with a mise cup of vinegar in it. Swirl slightly at first so the eggs don’t stick to the bottom, wait “twoish” minutes till done, remove and shock in ice water, trim, and reheat in hot salted water before service. (You have to wash the vinegar off, and the salted water gives the eggs some additional taste.) You shouldn’t poach them in salted water because the salt interferes with the coagulation. Chef told us to always poach an extra egg “just in case”, I forgot to do this, and of course one of mine broke slightly (I covered the break with Hollandaise so I might have gotten away with it). The hollandaise is whisking and egg and an egg yolk with a bit of water over a hot water bath till it thickens (a sabayon), and then slowly add clarified butter off heat, and finish with salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. I ran out of time to get my sabayon thick enough. The eggs are served over a bed of macedoined (“old school” cubed) vegetables, and topped with an “x” of tomato peel.
The beef is marinated overnight, seared and then braised in the marinating liquid. It is plated in a reduced sauce of the marinating liquid, deglazed sucs and stock, along with those darn pearl onions, mushrooms sauteed in bacon fat, freshly made swirled pasta, and a heart shaped “crouton” tipped with parsley. Again I ran out of time. I left my pearl onions till too late, I forgot entirely about the pasta for a while, my sauce took too long to reduce, my pasta stuck together, and I realized I didn’t have parsley well after the Chefs announced “has everyone got all their ingredients?”. Thanks Joe and Alton for donating some parsley to the cause. Ugh…I’ll do better on Monday. Despite the chaos, the kitchen smelled amazing. While yesterday’s fish fumet is a taste highlight, the red wine braising is definitely a smell highlight.
Today I’m volunteering at the Jame Beard House, and Chef Kruse is preparing 11 courses, so we have to be there at 2pm. There are three cameras in the kitchen so you can watch here to see if I’m peeling the potatoes correctly. Have a great weekend everyone.