A lot of people have asked me if I will share my journey through culinary school on the blog.
Beginning Monday, May 30th, I will return to staff nursing on a part time basis. This will free me up and, hopefully, bring sanity to Kathy and my life. Currently, I have hardly cooked anything at home over the last 6 weeks. I miss Sunday afternoons in the kitchen with Kathy, teasing each other about who is the better cook and coming up with some excellent meals for the week. We have ordered out so much, I have had to add a budget column for delivery tips!
The first five weeks have been spent developing knife skills. We have had to cut vegetables into certain sized sticks, cubes and other random 3 dimensional rectangles. (Danika, help me out here, what are varied dimensional rectangles called beside paysanne, battonet, pommes frites, julliene, and brunoise?) We boned ducks, chickens, and poussin. The most difficult was glove boning a poussin. Basically, you remove the entire carcass of the bird except for the leg bone, then reform the bird to be stuffed with some delicious filling. We did a brown stock, white stock and fish stock. We learned how to fillet round and flat fish and to remove the pin bones from the fillets.
I am now in my second week of the second five week term. We have made the two white sauces, veloute and bechamel, with some of their secondary sauces. We also did a beef consomme, which is incredibly elegant. We threw in a chicken pot pie for good measure. Next Tuesday we learn the Escoffier Classifications of soups and how to make cream and pureed soups. Busy, busy, busy!
I did make a brown stock at home and reduced it to a glace de viande. Here's how it is done:
5 pound beef bones, roasted at 400 degrees until browned, but not burned
1.5 pounds mirepoix, browned in the roasting pan
1 gallon of water
1. Combine roasted bones and mirepoix in water in 12 qt stockpot.
2. Put in oven, covered, at 275 degrees for 12 to 14 hours. You could also put it on low heat and simmer for 8 to 10 hours on the stovetop.
3. Chill the stock in an ice water bath until it is at 70 degrees F. Put in refrigerator overnight.
4. Remove the stock from the fridge, skim off the hardened fat and bring to a simmer on the stovetop.
5. Reduce the volume until you are at about 8 ounces or so. As the volume reduces, transfer to smaller pots, making sure that you pass the stock through a chinois each time you transfer.
6. At the final stages, you need to pay attention to the reduction so that it doesn't burn.
7. When you have achieved a thick sauce of about 8 ounces in volume, transfer to a 8 inch non-stick fry pan and let cool in the fridge. It will turn into a gel the consistency of "Dr. Scholl's Gellin' Pad". Cut it into squares and reconstitute it in warm water when ready to use. It will keep for months in the freezer.
Basically, you have made "instant stock" of incredible quality. You will never want to use a commercial soup base again, althought the better quality ones ARE OK in a pinch.
Note: Mirepoix is 50% Chopped Onions, 25% chopped Carrots, and 25% Chopped Celery.