Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Day 1 of PCA II – 0-60 MPH in a blink of an eye!

Well as you can see the number will change and we begin at day 1. We have two new chef instructors – Chef Romero and Chef Rorschach. Chef Romero is the head chef of the academy. He talks softly, walks around often giving input and tips. He’s only been in the culinary field for about 6 years but has such knowledge for what he does. He said after graduating from culinary school he was fortunate enough to hook up with the right people for his externship and rose very quickly in the culinary world.

Chef Rorschach was one of the chefs that substituted for us when Chef Richardson was out sick for a couple of days. She is a stickler for details and she is the one that has such a passion for students to learn and get as much as they possibly can out of their experience. What an interesting pair these two make. The mood in the class is so drastically different. You can see the other students get that focused look in their face and we’re all smiling like “Yeah now this is what we’re talking about!”

They even had us Mise out differently. Before we all grabbed our lists and went off and got our stuff. Well this time they divided us into groups – Protein, Fresh, Dry. One section of the class got all the meats, the next section got the wines and cheeses, yet another for herbs etc. It was so organized! As you’re passing out stuff to others you come back and find you station filled with goodies.

So our first night was Sautéed Chicken Breast with Polenta, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Pan Sauce. Well we first had to learn how to cut up a whole chicken. I’ve never done this. I buy my chicken already cut up. I’m lazy and figure my time is worth something hehehe. So if I buy a chicken whole I cook it whole. We had to remove the legs with the thighs and include the ‘oyster’ meat from the back. Then we had to separate the thigh from the leg. One thigh we had to French and the other de-bone. We then had to French both legs as well. For those not familiar with this technique you scrape the meat from the bone done a bit and cut off the ‘knob’ from the end. It’s for presentation only. Next was to remove both breasts. One would be a boneless ‘Supreme’ and the other we left the first wing joint still attached and Frenched that one as well. We kept the two breasts for our dishes that evening.

I’m a big multi-tasker. The problem I have in kitchen is multi-tasking while sharing a small space and having to share a stove. I can cook 15 dishes at once but when I have to do it on 4 burners, share a small refrigerator and have 2 feet of counter space I have to stop and refocus. Tonight I intend to really stand at my station and restructure my mind.

So while we’re cutting up our chicken I start my chicken stock reducing, get my water boiling for my shocking of Brussels sprouts (keep in mind I only get for burners) I start my bacon rendering so I can get that done and off the stove, but I also have to start heating my stock/milk for my polenta (I am now at four burners) I still have to sear my chicken breasts and pan fry my sprouts. This is all while sharing a space and knocking elbow both on the right and left side. It’s a good thing I really like my fellow students.

Sprouts are done, but water stays where it is. It was easier to keep 1 pot and share it and let everyone get their sprouts done. Bacon is rendered but I need the pan for later so stow it below. Get my next pan on to sear the chicken. And then get the chicken into the oven.

(Flash Back – Early days on PCA I and the lasagna and why it took twice as long to cook. One word – Convection)

I was calculating 30 minutes to cook the 2 chicken breasts. Well it took about 5 minutes. Long and short I get everything plated – Polenta first, chicken on top, sprouts around, sprinkle with the bits and the pan sauce. This making 2 plates will take some getting use to. My flavor was very good, my polenta wasn’t as thick as it should be. I’ll keep learning. I have never made polenta except in the first class and it was so gross. This stuff was pretty darn good.

This class will definitely keep me on my toes. I have made notes on everything the Chefs said and will type them up along with the recipes over to help memorize them. And tonight was a slow night according to all the past students. All I can say is Wow!!

Until Tomorrow…


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