Friday, August 07, 2009

School - Week Three

I was distracted last week with my motorcycle trip to the Guzzis in the Blue Ridge that I didn't have a chance to post about school.

On Monday we spent most of our time cutting up chickens and making a stock. I think we made hot dogs for lunch but otherwise it was not a very memorable day. Maybe the only worthwhile note was that after we had cut up our chickens, we were to go back and debone the chicken breasts. I think my buddy Ridges and I did at least a dozen each before anyone else had the first one done. Helps to have a sharp knife and ambition.

On Tuesday we re-heated our stocks to finish them and worked on prepping a luncheon for Wednesday. What's the difference between lunch and luncheon, is lunch just short for luncheon?

Ridges and I made bread, or more accurately we assisted Chef in making bread. I learned a few things here. I'm not sure I am running my dough long enough in the mixer. Chef ran it for 18 minutes. I don't use high gluten bread flour, Chef said that makes a big difference. I also don't use a bread conditioner though Chef said that the conditioner is very hard to find. Maybe King Arthur Flour sells it.

Later it came time to strain our stocks. We are supposed to strain through a china hat lined with cheesecloth. Babyface had a line behind him waiting to get some cheesecloth. I look and he's trying to cut through it with what looks like a tiny pair of nail scissors. I grab my petty knife and go up to the front of the line. "Dude, they give us knives for a reason," and slice right through it. Amazingly he gets all pissy with me, "I was trying to prove a point," he huffs at me. Don't be a dick head, you're holding everyone up. He and I are not going to get along. Of course he only seems to come to class every other day, so maybe the problem will take care of itself.

After we stained everything, Chef asked what we were going to make with the chicken. None of us knew that was the plan. Think fast. Shredded chicken to me immediately says Mexican. Ridges said chicken salad. So we did a Mexican chicken salad. I was a little pissed that three other tables decided to do chicken salad. MILF and Hottie #2 worked at our table too. They did barbecue chicken, and again , two other tables did the same thing. The most amazing thing was that we had four people working our table and we never got in each other's way.

Unfortunately since I grabbed mostly backs, we did not have a lot of meat left from our stock. I almost fell on the floor when I heard RK come over and ask Chef about saving the tails, not really meat right? Since we didn't have enough meat, Chef let us saute up a few of the chicken breasts we had boned out the day before. Ridges worked on dicing the jalapenos, green peppers, yellow peppers, green onions and cilantro while I worked the chicken. After the chicken was cooked through we added a few ladles of chicken stock to deglaze the pan and half of the diced vegetables to the skillet. This way we had more flavor but enough fresh veggies to still have a crunch and freshness.

I think hands down our dish was the best. It wasn't hard to do. I think the key is to make something simple and rather than cooking out of the book take each partner's idea and combine them into one dish. One group made shepherds pie with the chicken except there was no stew-like gravy and no peas. That's mashed potatoes on top of chicken not shepherds pie. The other two chicken salads were indistinguishable other than one was chunky and the other smooth in texture. Both could have been from the grocery. The barbecues were blah. The one voted as the "best" tasted kind of off to me. I asked about the vinegar and suggested maybe cider vinegar should have been used. Sushi #2 told me they used red wine vinegar, "because that's what the book said." And there in lies the problem. All these other groups measure everything, Ridges and I don't. I remember Chef saying in my first class, learn to eyeball everything.

Afterwards we had to cool our stocks including a huge steam pot of veal stock. SloMo and Babyface were put in charge of the veal stock. What a clusterfuck. There was steaming and scalding, spilling all over the floor, screaming and swearing. These guys are going to hurt somebody. They transferred the stock into a HUGE stock pot. At which point I said they needed to break that down into smaller containers because they won't be able to get the liquid line below the water line for cooling. Baby face snapped at me, did I know how many pots that would take? It doesn't matter, it won't work the way you're doing it. The smaller the volume the faster the heat dissipation. We have to get these cooled as fast as possible. I've got a fucking engineering degree. How many semesters of thermodynamics do you have? Dumb Ass. So another group of us start transferring from the HUGE stick pot into smaller containers. SloMo comes over with another pot full of stock and wants to fill up the ones in the ice bath. No! Smaller containers cool faster. He got all pissy with me. I had to just walk away.

Dumb ass.


Brook said...

Just walk away... One of my favorite lines from "Road Warrior". Gotta keep laughing though, right? What did you end up using the stock for anyway?

Huff Daddy said...

We used the stock the next day and then MILF and I froze the rest.