Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Day 20 of PCA II – Aflac! Duck Season!

We did two duck dishes this evening. I’ve never cooked duck before so a lot of learning for me this evening.

Our first dish was Pan Roasted Breast of Duck with Spiced Butternut Squash, Roasted Plums, Plum Gastrique and Duck Glace. (Yeah say that 3 times fast) I knew duck was a very fatty poultry but had no clue how fatty. If you’re doing the duck breast you need to render the fat out first. After 2 duck breasts for the first dish I think I had enough fat in the bottom of that pan to fill milk jug. This was my favorite of the two dishes because the roasted plums were very tasty. Like Chef Rorschach said “Duck loves fruit” and she was right. The butternut squash had a really good flavor and the ‘spicy’ from the cloves and cinnamon were a nice contrast to the sweet plum sauce. The flavors complimented each other very well. If you get a good sear on the skin it’s very good!

Our second dish was Tea-Smoked Duck Breast with Kabocha Squash Puree, Gingered Tangerines and Tangerine Gastrique with Arugula. To me this recipe was a disaster. (Eddie, my partner this week will tell you it was the first one because I so totally over browned…ok ok…burned the duck breasts) Our tangerine gastrique came out good on flavor…if you like chewing it. We kept adding water to thin it out but to no avail. Eddie had a wonderful idea and drizzled some on parchment paper and put it in the fridge to chill and then we inverted them on the plate for height. It looked great! That is until they started melting from the heat of the duck Hahaha. Ok A+ for effort. The tea smoke was, shall we say aromatic. 7 bain maries filling the air with concentrated smoke even with the exhaust fans going full mill can make ones nose start to twitch. The smoke added a very nice subtle flavor to the duck. The tangerines would not have been my first choice of fruit to use and to me the flavor was not as delicate as the plum. It over powered the flavor of the duck and on this dish the duck was the show.

Chef didn’t like either recipe for the squash because it had us roasting both and mashing them up. The texture is just not pleasant. She wants them to change the recipe and I hope they do. My preference would have been to dice them up in 1 inch cubes and pan sauté them in butter with the spices or with just butter.

Duck has an interesting flavor. Not something I’m opposed to which kind of surprised me.

Then came the controversy. Lol I think we have more drama in our class that of a soap opera. We were each asked to bring in a box of cascade powered dishwashing soap. Our class would be scouring all the pots and pans. Ok I’m not opposed to this, that’s part of ‘working in a kitchen’. What I am opposed to is, there are 3 classes that use these pots and pans, Class A, B and C. We are in C. However, class A nor B was asked to purchase any cascade at their expense nor are they being asked to clean any of the pots and pans. I can’t tell you how many times we come in to a messy kitchen yet they walk in to a pristine one because we do what we are supposed to do. I don’t much care for double standards. Everybody should be held accountable! If you’re not prepared to make all students do something equally then don’t single out one class. Our tuitions are not cheap, yet the students have to pay for cleaning supplies? And later this week we have to each bring in a chicken to fabricate. This is the thorn in my side. The school, based on my tuition should provide me with any and all needed supplies contusive to learning. Chef told Carrie that “…the director, who is a clean freak, has certain high standards and expects us all to meet them. He is also technically your boss…” at this I thought Carrie was going to lose it. She looked at chef and said “…he is not my boss. I don’t pay my boss to come to work. We are his boss because without students he doesn’t have a job or a school.” Carrie is a very intelligent woman and very opinionated. I just love her! She is a no nonsense type of woman and does not tolerate idiocy.

I realize that Chef was only trying to take the initiative to ‘do the right thing’ and got a ear full because of it. To her she just saw a job that needed to get done and decided she’d do it hoping that the rest of us would rally behind her. I think that if we had the same chef instructors throughout the entire course that would happen. You feel a loyalty and sense of pride. But for some they just want to come in, cook and leave. For others we bond with our classmates and our teachers. I have the highest respect for Chef Rorschach. And because it’s her I’ll bust my hump and get things done. I take great pride in most of my classmates and my instructors. And lo to anyone who disrespects them in anyway.

But tomorrow we’re doing Tempura! How’s that for a topic change…no segway just out there Haha. I love tempura! I hope they have extra shrimp because I’m going to be hungry tonight.

Until tomorrow!....


At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Dani said...

Your own cleaning supplies? A chicken? Your Tuition should cover all those expenese. Is that a joke?

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Dani said...

I got your email last night - you can expect an answer later today ;)


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