Friday, June 13, 2008

O Sole Mio

The time has come when we start to cook dishes totally on our own for the remainder of Level III. Cooking with a partner, sharing the work load and pulling each other out of the weeds is not an option anymore.

The sixteen dishes we have prepared so far will now repeat and we will be on our own and under stricter time constraints to accomplish the finished dish. The class was split in half; some of us made Poulet Rôti Grand-Mère and the other half made Consommé Printanier.

I had to conjure my inner French Grand-Mère to get motivated to make the chicken dish really sing. There are many components including: making the jus on the side with a reinforced stock, making the garniture (potatoes, pearl onions, bacon, mushrooms) and cooking it all separately and then crisping the chicken by sautéing it on top of the stove on all sides in hot oil then finishing it in the oven with mirepoix.

I trussed my chicken, then started the Jus de Rôti by sautéing carrots and onions (mirepoix) removing that and then sautéing chicken bones and carcasses to a crispy and browned color. After deglazing the pan with white wine, I returned the mirepoix and then added some veal stock. The jus cooked separately for an hour and I continually degreased the sauce.

I heated a sauté pan (sauteuse) added some vegetable oil and then seared the chicken on all sides. The breast was seared last and done lightly so as to not dry it out. I achieved a gorgeous color and crisp skin, my oven was preheated to 425 degrees and the chicken finished in the oven for about 40 minutes. Before the chicken went into the oven I drizzled melted butter all over the skin.

I prepared the garniture and keep it warm on my flat top. One the challenges of cooking on our own is that we have only one burner, half a flat top and we have to share an oven. Organization is key and you have to work within your limitations.

At this point I was running a little over the time for when I needed to plate the dish, I carved my chicken after it rested for about 15 – 20 minutes which allows for the juices to redistribute. I was rushing to plate four plates and get everything ready for Chef to taste and critique. Before he even came over I knew my jus was too thin and could have been more reduced. Chef said the chicken was nice and juicy, the garniture was well-seasoned and the jus needed to reduce more.

Cooking was like running a marathon, I didn’t come in first but I made pretty good time.

So much chicken, so little time - most of these dishes have been picked over by hungry students.

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