No, not a memory game played with cards but a method of cooking that I need to commit to memory. The Poêlé Method of Concentration Cooking is generally used for large roasts of veal or pork. In class we prepared a Carré de Porc Poêlé, Choux Rouges Braisés à la Flamande (Roast Pork with Flemish-Style Braised Red Cabbage).
Steps for the Poêlé Method:
- Season the meat and brown it on all sides to achieve a flavorful crust
- Place the bones, trimmings, garniture and bouquet garni in a rondeau (large round pot with straight sides like a Dutch Oven). Since we trimmed our pork roast, we had trimmings and bones to add flavor to the roast as it cooked. Add a generous amount of butter to the top of the meat and cover with a tightly fitted lid – then into a 350 degree pre-heated oven.
- Cook covered for about an hour and baste occasionally. Test for doneness by piercing the meat once to check if the juices run clear and use a thermometer to check if the meat has reached 140 – 150 degrees.
- Remove the meat from the oven and keep warm covered with a piece of foil
- Return the rondeau to the top of the stove, deglaze the sucs and aromatics with white wine and add brown stock to create the sauce. Simmer and degrease.
- Strain through a chinois.
- Continue to reduce if necessary and adjust seasonings.
- To reheat the roast briefly, you can place it in the sauce, return to the oven and baste to achieve a shiny glaze.
We finished the sauce with chopped herbs (parsley and chervil) plated the pork with braised red cabbage and sautéed cocottes of Granny Smith apple.
Our next lesson that night was to learn how to truss a chicken – this is done to plump the meat, allows ease of movement from sauté pan to oven, and gives a pleasing appearance when plated. Trussing can be done with simple kitchen string and the use of a trussing needle. We trussed just by using the kitchen twine – Chef believes piercing the meat with a trussing needle defeats the purpose of keeping the juices inside the meat.
Concentration cooking forces the juices in the meat inward this is why it is best not to pierce the meat while grilling, roasting or sautéing. You want to keep those juices inside the meat to retain juiciness and flavor. This is why you allow the meat to rest after it cooks to allow the juices to redistribute as well.
After we trussed our chicken we prepared Poulet Rôti Grand-Mère (Grandmother’s Roast Chicken). The Grand-Mère garniture consisted of potatoes, pearl onions, bacon, mushrooms, and parsley. We sautéed our trussed bird on all sides on top of the stove in a sautoir. I made the mistake of not browning the chicken enough for Chef’s approval. Chef wanted a deeper brown color than the golden color I achieved from sautéing. All mistakes made and negative criticism from Chef sticks in my memory for a good reason – so I don’t repeat them.
Once sautéed the chicken, mirepoix and trimmings went into the oven at 400 degrees to cook for about 40 minutes. We prepared our garniture separately and waited to make our au jus from the drippings. Once the final dish was plated and presented I knew I was going to catch hell for my pallid-looking chicken. I braced myself and took the criticism with stride – Grandmother would have scolded me too.