Friday, October 06, 2006

Day 3 of PCA II – Pork the Other White Meat

Well I got all my dishes done – Yeah! But I feel like I got my arse handed to me on a serving plate – Boo! The only saving grace was it wasn’t just me, we all felt it tonight.

Now while cooking a ‘dinner’ isn’t a big deal…I mean heck I do it all the time. Let’s talk about the big wrenches that get thrown into the cogs. We are in teams, so a few of our dishes are prepared together. Ok so far not too bad. We have 6 burners between the 2 of us. Ok I can hang with that…what do you mean I have to cook up 12 things at once?! I only get 3 burners! Breathing…let’s evaluate this. I need 16 oz veal stock for one dish and another 16 oz for a second dish that’s 2 pots and they both have to reduce. Ok use a slightly bigger pot to account for extra evaporation and put all 32 ounces into one pot. Yes one less pot. Ok I have to caramelize a lot of onions for 3 different dishes and so does my partner. Well let’s just take all of them into one big fry pan and ‘get her done’.

Now while all this seems simple enough, the confusion starts because you don’t what you can combine even after you read the recipes for the tenth time. It’s not until you see the chef demo it that you begin to get a bigger picture of what’s going to happen for the night. Then you have to watch the chef demo both recipes (tick tock tick tock). Of course by that time you’re so clustered and can’t figure out which end of the knife is which. So you go back to your station and confer with your partner, who has that same dazed look on his face and you can see he is hoping beyond hope that I have it all under control. HA!

The second issue comes from mise-ing out. If you remember 1 group gets the proteins, another the veggies etc. Well when you get recipes that have a LOT of ingredients and often times similar ones the chaos is rampant. Then you come back to your station after handing out the stuff you were assigned to do only to find all these little black cups of liquid all over and no clue what they are, must less what they are for. See before when we each mised out our own items we’d put them at our station in a way that made sense to each of us. Now we’re picking them up, sniffing them trying to determine if it’s red wine, sherry or white wine. Then there are herbs everywhere. Everyone as their handing stuff out yells out what the things are, but hell at this point no one is listening. We’re all so focused on getting our stuff handed out and yelling what our stuff is I can’t listen to them yelling about their stuff – sheesh!

It’s now 7:45pm and we have to have all our dishes out by 10:15pm. I believe I heard 3 brains snap, one is whimpering at their station and the rest of us just stand there with this little bit of drool running out of the corner of our mouths. At that moment is when Chef Romero yells out “Ok let’s get on that bread pudding! I want that in the oven in 15 minutes – GO!” Everyone shakes the cobwebs out, wipes the drool of their face and gets moving.

On the menu for this evening we have –

Roquefort stuffed pork chops with savory kale bread pudding and a mushroom ragout. Also we will be presenting seared brined pork chops with a veal reduction sauce, and caramelized sweet potatoes with romesco sauce and braised kale.

The dishes were very good flavor wise. I wasn’t sure about the savory bread pudding with the kale but I was pleasantly surprised. I wonder if my family would like it. I would have to say probably not only because of the texture. Now the romesco was something that will get added to my favorites. What wonderful flavors. I’ve already pondered putting that on chicken and then grilling it and the when served add a bit of fresh to the top.

Here’s the recipe –

4 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large or 2 small Ancho Chilies
2 Tbl Almonds
1 oz bread (French would be perfect about 2 slices ½ inch thick or a baguette 4 slices about ¾ inch thick.)
1 clove garlic
2 plum tomatoes
1 tsp parsley
Lemon juice, as needed (we only need ½)
Kosher salt, as needed

Heat oil in large sauté pan. Toast the chilies in the oil and set aside (be sure to cut the top stem portion off but leave the seeds intact). Using the same pan toast the bread and set aside. Next add the almonds and toast those making sure not to burn them. In a food processor grind the nuts, garlic and bread to a coarse meal. Add the chilies and grind till fully incorporated. Add the tomatoes and parsley and pulse again till fully incorporated. If you need more moisture begin to add a bit of your lemon juice. Now with the machine running slowly drizzle in the oil to emulsify. You may have to scrape down the sides once or twice. Continue adding the oil to the desire consistency. It will be thick. Add a bit more lemon and salt.

Got all my dishes out and pretty good marks. But it took the entire allotted time to do them. I always try and shoot for 15 minutes before they’re due but that did not happen. And not just me, almost all of us. I think another part of the problem is music. Once we get started the chef will put music on for us. How nice right? Well sometimes it’s this head banger hard rock music that makes me want to SCREAM! And then you look up at some of the younger kids in the class and they’re poppin their heads to the beat. Then the music may shift and be jazz and now I’m happy. I don’t mind the music it helps to break the tension, but they need to find a happy medium for all of us and I’m not how to address this.

I have redone my recipes a bit differently. When they give us our addendums it’s really screwy how they look. On the first page will be each dish and its ingredients. Then on the next couple of pages will the directions. So you’re going from the front to back constantly. I made copies of mine, reduced them and cut them up. Now they are all on one page with recipe name and below that ingredients and off to the right the directions. I’m hoping that helps with the organization. I’ll let you know.

Wish me luck. Tomorrow we’re filleting Halibut! It’s time to go fishing!

Until Tomorrow!


Post a Comment

<< Home