Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Day 4 and 5 of CCT – Does this fat make me look fat?

It’s all about preserving in fat.

On Day 4 we fabricated 2 ducks. Ducks are a very interesting bird. First they don’t have any ‘white’ meat only dark meat. Also they’re very, very fatty. So it’s best to render this stuff out. But this ‘stuff’ makes some tasty ways to cook duck – Duck Confit.

We also made Pork Rillettes. This is pork butt that is braised for a long period of time to allow the meat to become very tender so it can be shredded easily. This seasoned meat is then packed into a ramekin. Meanwhile you’ve been rendering pork fat in another pan taking care not to brown it. You just want to extract all the fatty goodness out. The ramekins are then topped off with the liquid fat sealing out the air. The meat by itself, covered with plastic wrap would last maybe a week in the refrigerator. But covered in the fat it will last 3-4 times as long. When you’re ready to use it you simply skim off the fat and you have a nice pork ‘paste’ you can spread on crostinis.

Our brine injected pork loins were ready for trussing and then placed into the smoker to be hot smoked for a few hours. Smelling it made me hungry. It’s like standing outside and whiffing someone else who’s bbq’ing in your neighborhood. No matter if you’ve just eaten a huge meal, you smell that and you salivate.

Last but not least we started the first process of our Bread and Butter pickles. My dad used to make these only I recall we did them with zucchini instead of cucumbers. So they are still in the fridge awaiting phase two. We just cut the cucumbers and onions up, tossed them in kosher salt and then put them in a perforated pan and covered them with ice and plastic wrap. The brine solution was cooked up and stored till Monday.

The dynamics of the class now is very different. Not only is the pace a lot slower but there is a lot of team projects. So far nothing has been individual. This can cause problems if you teammate(s) and you do not gel. We’ve always made a point of when team work had to be done; we knew who we could rely on and who we wanted to work with. Hey, we’re paying the tuition this shouldn’t be a problem. We all know that out in the real world things don’t work out that way. But then in the real world I’m being paid to do a job or work with whomever and I shall do so. But when I’m paying…different story.

The ‘snafu’ is Chef divides us up into 3 groups. So we don’t know who we’re working with. Needless to say this can cause a lot of anxiety among a few of us. We also have one student that is starting to concern me and not sure how I should address it. Lately he’s become very aggressive and he’s always touching the younger students. On the shoulder, or the wrist. Never mean like just a finger brush here or there. He did it to me once or twice and I told him to never touch me again. He’s also recently out of prison. Spent 8 years locked away. He is not allowed to carry his knives home. He must leave his knife bag at the school and pick it up just before walking into class – a violation of his parole if he doesn’t. I had to correct him this week, as he was in my group, because he was doing a procedure wrong. He usually laughs and jokes around me a lot but this time he just glared at me and then walked away. I don’t feel I can talk to the Chef instructor about this because, to be honest, he turned 3 shades whiter when this student introduced himself and mention he was an ex-con. May have to take this to the director.

Day 5 brought us back to the duck and the pork.

From Day 4 being on a Friday we had a lot of the class projects that normally would have been for tomorrow being done today. Its ok we were up the challenge. Well let’s say Eddie was. Lol this guy is just “get it done” mentality. He took it upon himself to get the projects finished up so the teams could focus on the ones they had to do. Eddie rinsed the whole ducks we were brining. He also washed off the dry rub from the duck quarters and got them drying for our duck confit. Sounds simple but it was a lot of duck.

For the team production we made Pork Terrine with Dried Cherries and Pistachios and Goat Cheese Mousseline with Nicoise Olive Tapanade.

I have to say the jury is out on the pork terrine. I just cannot see this dish as being tasty. Pork, cherries and pistachios just don’t do it for me. But I’ll reserve judgement till I try it. Tonight we just precooked it and then it has to set up in the walkin overnight. We’ll present it tomorrow.

The Goat Cheese dish looks like it’ll be very tasty. I love the olive tapanade. This one is sitting up as well and will be presented tomorrow so I’ll let know how they all taste.

The only ‘nasty’ dish we made was the chicken liver pate. Now I know some love this tasty ‘treat’ but not I. Also the chicken livers needed to be soaked a lot longer than 10 minutes in milk. No matter how long they were to soak I’m not a fan.

Tonight that same student from the other night became aggressive yet again. I approached him because looking at all pork terrines in the oven his group didn’t have theirs done correctly. Meaning it wasn’t covered in foil or in a deep enough water bath. Since it was their entire team that would fail I thought I’d be nice and mention it. He made his hands into fists and put them knuckles down on the counter and leaned forward (totally over posturing) and told me “Stay out it, it doesn’t concern you.” I’m like WHAT THE HELL was that?! So I’m going to make a call to the director tomorrow and just make them aware of the situation. I don’t like the thought of coming to school and not feeling like I’m in a safe environment. I’m going to talk to a couple of other students and see if they’d be willing to talk to the director as well.

It’s a short week due to the holidays. Yeah a 4 day weekend for me from work and school!! Let’s see Thursday is Thanksgiving, busy making pies and helping with dinner. So that’s not a true day off of relaxation. But I have Friday! No wait…I’ll be cooking a full dinner myself for my family and father in law. This way I don’t have to take my parents leftovers since I’ll be making my own. Fine I’ll relax on Saturday. Shoot can’t do that I have to get ready for my daughters birthday party over at my sisters house. (My sister has the perfect home for entertaining if you were wondering) Ok that leaves Sunday, the ultimate relaxation day. DOH! Can’t do that either, will be over at my sisters to clean up as there is no way I’ll let her do any cleaning. It’s our mess. But after that my husband and I are going out to dinner with some friends who live about 2 hours away. And we’re going to take the motorcycle. (I’m hoping for cold weather because if it’s cold enough I get to wear my Christmas present – riding leathers) So that leaves us with…Arg! I’m out of days off! Oh well it’ll all be fun – family, good food, celebrations and friends. Can’t get much better than that.

Until Tomorrow!...


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