Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Favorite

I have to say, though an odd combination, last night’s menu has been one of my favorites so far. I’ve really liked a lot of what we’ve made, but last night’s menu was one that I would order out.

We started the night by de-fatting chicken necks and backs because we are learning how to make chicken stock. I think we did 80 pounds of chicken, which ends up in an 80 gallon, or bigger, container. Every night when we come into class, that container is going with either chicken stock or veal stock being made. The stock we use is really good, no canned or boxed can compare, but it takes quite a bit of time to make and you need a lot of chicken or veal bones.

After that, we returned to the classroom and watched Chef Frank (our instructor) demonstrate our menu for the evening. He usually does the demo and we taste and then we recreate what he has done.

The first item was cleaning and cooking artichokes. What a pain in the neck that is! The artichokes were cooked in a broth of water, lemons and spices. Once cooked, you finish cleaning them, cut the hearts out and we used them in a simple salad with greens, artichokes, mushrooms, which had been cooked with the artichokes, so they were sort of marinated and a vinaigrette. Good? Yes. Worth the work? The jury is still out.

The next thing we did was Les Moules – mussels. Yum! I love mussels and will typically order them if they are on the menu somewhere. First we had to debeard the mussels and go through them for the dead ones. Once that was done, they were steamed in a white wine broth with shallots and garlic and olive oil. We also made diced tomatoes and onions on the side, sauteed them and then added them to the bouillon after the mussels had steamed to finish the broth. The mussels were really meaty and good, although just a bit gritty. The broth turned out fantastic. I would make these at home or for company, if I knew they ate mussels.

The last item on the menu was – wait for it – French fries! Cut potatoes into strips, and fry them twice. Top with salt and parsley. Wow, they were good. Almost makes me want to go get a fryer, but easily done on the stove with a thermometer.

At the end of the night, we completed the ingredients for the chicken stock. It simmers for about 8 hours and then is strained to remove all the solids. When the solids are removed, you can’t lift the bag out of the garbage, it’s too heavy. We end up with about 6-8 gallons of stock from everything that is put in.

Tonight is a night off and he didn’t give us our menu for tomorrow, so it’s a surprise.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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