Culinary Arts Project

Veal Blanquette and Pot-Au-Feu (Sauce Raifort) – Day 22


  • Scrape the bone flakes off the side of your shortribs – these are there as a result of the bandsaw used to originally butcher them, and can be unpleasant to eat.
  • Never lean over the dish you are serving, for hygienic reasons – which I found happens quite a bit because you want to make sure everything is perfect.
  • When peeling a vegetable, peel it on the side – this way the peel falls away and into the bowl, and doesn’t stay in the peeler. (If anyone has a hint about how to peel pearl onions, I’m all ears – those little suckers are driving me crazy).
The vat full of chicken bones - pre over-boiling
The vat full of chicken bones – pre over-boiling
Veal Blanquette with Rice Pilaf
Veal Blanquette with Rice Pilaf

Today was the best of times and worst of times. I personally didn’t have a great day. I showed up an hour early to help make stock. I think I hindered more than helped. “How much mirepoix for 40 pounds of chicken bones?” both chefs asked me. 20! Wrong, 8! Then Joanne and I put the mirepoix in too early, making it harder to skim. Then a few hours later the monster vat I was supposed to be monitoring boils over spilling all over the kitchen floor. I go running towards it and Chef Jeff yells STOP! He rightly prevented me from trying to hit the off switch, where I would have scalded myself. Very counter-intuitively, the solution is to pour more cold water into it. This cools the water, and stops the boiling. Then I was skimming the fat incorrectly. All this made me fall behind in helping my new partner Regina (from Panama) with our meals. Being one minute behind the game feels so entirely different than being 1 minute ahead of the game, and the difference is only two minutes. We were 1 minute behind the game all day, and so I was feeling panicked the whole day. I was also co-sous-chef so this added additional duties on for the day. None of these things were over-the-top difficult, but it made it very stressful for me.

Stewart and Regina with our Veal Blanquettes
Stewart and Regina with our Veal Blanquettes
Luis sneaks a bite
Luis sneaks a bite

Today the food wasn’t that exciting (simmered veal, served over rice pilaf), and a Pot-au-feu (beef stew) of simmered short ribs, but made all stressful by having to ‘cocotte’ potatoes, carrots, turnips, and celery. The most interesting taste of the day was the Sauce Raifort (a horseradish sauce). Take a stock, add a roux and it become a “veloute”, add crème fraiche and it become “Sauce Supreme”, then add grated horseradish and it becomes “Sauce Raifort”. The initial excitement at completing these dishes is wearing off a bit, even though these dishes are getting technically more complicated. Yesterday’s Chicken Grand Mere recipe had 68 verbs (e.g. add, tie, brown, trim, season, etc …), today’s Veal Blanquette had 101 verbs! Lots to do! Blanquette is a word indicating that nothing is browned in the process (making it a bit dull in my opinion).

The exiting part of today was that the Chef and class were all starting to talk about ‘food’. Restaurants, newspaper articles, chefs, culture, etc… There’s a real hunger in our class for this and people reacted well. Apparently our class is ‘different’, which I take as a good sign. Speaking of articles, Frank forwarded me this tidbit about chefs and their sex symbol status from the New York Post:

Gerardo - he just joined us from another class. So we're down three, but up one!
Gerardo – he just joined us from another class. So we were down three, but now up one!

Pastries are starting to appear at the bakery class now – and I thought the bread was diet-unfriendly! Picked up a couple of apricot pastries which I remember as a kid, as well as some flat bread. Off to write out tomorrow’s recipes as well as all the dough recipes. We need to have these on hand if suddenly we have an extra minute to whip a dough. I’m really looking forward to the pastry section.

3 replies on “Veal Blanquette and Pot-Au-Feu (Sauce Raifort) – Day 22”

Thanks for the onion tip. I’ve been putting in hot water, but not icing, I’ll give that a try. Glad you’re enjoying it. I can’t wait for the dessert section either!

Sorry you had a rough day. How do you cocotte celery? I’m really enjoying your blog; learning so much (about all the things I’ve been doing wrong all these years). Really looking forward to when you get to the dessert part :) Hope you have a much better day tomorrow.

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