Top | While my sautoir gently sweats — Blog

If we are only making two recipes, why are we so far behind?

(post, John Dryzga)

The word that best sums up Saturday's class is relentless. From minute one, if a demo wasn't going on, we were slicing, dicing, straining, monte au beurring, and a lot of other French terms for the full five hours. Of course you do not do any of the above if Chef Nic is doing a demo, because you will hear about it. When he says come up front for the demo, he means come up front for the demo, NOW. Luckily for us, our station is upfront, so we can usually sneak in some cooking during the demo.

This weeks lesson was veal and beef. We only had two recipes to prepare, blanquette au veau and grilled steak. However, they both had many moving parts. The blanquette is basically a veal stew where you do not brown the meat. In order to carry the theme of blanc throughout the dish, all the other parts of the dish had to be cooked without color. The pearl onions and the mushrooms have to be cooked through without gaining the usual brown color. A sauce is made from the stewing liquid and a dish is made with rice pilaf, the garnishes and the stew. We dropped the ball big time here. Our mushrooms and pearl onions had an attractive, but wrong, brown color to them. We really under seasoned the sauce and the veal was slightly under cooked. Ouch! At least the rice pilaf come out well. This took us about 3 1/2 hours, including the time for demos, to accomplish this. Lunch consisted of us picking off the plate we presented to Chef. 

After the demo/lecture on steak, we had less than an hour to make bearnaise sauce, pomme dauphane and grill the steaks. The bearnaise was a night mare. I over reduced the reduction so I only had about 1/4 of the reduction I needed. So I had to scramble to make more. The sauce broke when I was making it, so I had to scramble to fix it. In the end, we had a really sad sauce. Everyone ran out of time, so Chef just told us to wrap up our food and bring it home. We were spared the embarrasment of showing Chef our miserable bearnaise.

After getting the station cleaned up and changing, I walked the two blocks to Canal St. to catch the subway to the bus station. Of course the subway was not running, so I had to walk about a mile carrying my uniform and all my culinary tools digging into my shoulder. Just to spice things up, it was only about 20 degrees and windy. Just some final seasoning on a less than banner day!