Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kitchen Math 101

The lectures continue! This time a class on food control and costing. A Chef not only has to be a superstar in the kitchen he or she must be a good business person as well.

Our class meet in our normal kitchen-classroom – all of us gathered around to watch a short film on food costing, recipe costing, edible portion estimating, yields and math! I was glazing over – I know this stuff is important and I paid attention but once I hear percentages divided by yield factors equals usable edible portion cost – I go to a happy place in my brain.

Luckily, our lecture was only half of the allotted class time and we were able to make one recipe – Poulet en Cocotte Printanière (Chicken Stew with Spring Vegetables). We started by trussing the chicken carefully with some kitchen string. In a sautoir we sautéed the chicken on all sides to achieve a golden crisp crust. We finished cooking the chicken in a 425 degree oven with some mirepoix. On the side we prepared the spring vegetables which consisted of pearl onions, haricots verts, peas, carrots, and turnips – all prepped and cook separately and ready to be reheated in time to plate.

When the chicken was out of the oven, we used the same pan and degreased it of fat and then deglazed the pan with white wine to make a jus. We each plated a dish for Chef to review and I was very happy with the result of my chicken stew, the jus was perfect and the presentation was elegant for a simple country-style dish. Chef liked it as well and asked me where were the peas? I forgot to use them in my rush to plate the dish quickly – it was probably subliminal since peas are on my “not a fan” list. I’ll eat them when they are in stews and braises but on their own I think they are a lot of work for little return.

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