Friday, 8 October 2010

Chicken several ways

Dawn snuck in early and we headed towards the kitchens in the strange half light that presages a good day, though ancient folk lore warnings about shepherds and red skies remain imprinted deep in the subconscious.

My first task was to create the biscuits for lunch and before eight I was weighing ingredients and constructing the stiff  dough that rolled to 1/16 of an inch provides the perfect cracker. A task I was keen to get out of the way because it meant that I could move on to the day's alchemy, the construction of Chicken Liver Pate.

My favourite pate of all time, and one I know adored by certain followers of the blog, I have made it for years but having carefully watched the demo I knew could be improved upon. A couple of areas of technique gave insights as to the means of improvement and were duly incorporated into my version of the dish.
A lower and slower application of heat and the introduction of garlic and thyme earlier in the process added depth of flavour to the chicken livers and, whilst the recipe said deglase the pan with brandy, it did not specify which type of brandy so I chose a Calvados and introduced a slightly appley background flavour. Chilling the livers before processing also improved taste and, when blitzed and given over their own weight of butter to make a silky smooth pate, the morning's little burst of alchemy was complete.

The work was not over though, and over the next hour and a half, I added buttered cucumber to the list of dishes completed and assisted this week's partner Sarah to complete her dishes by passing 1,000 pounds of potatoes through a mouli.I also got to fillet a Haddock to tick off another marker and practice for a likely skill in the Techniques exam.

Eventually I had to plate my dishes for adjudication and received very good and helpful comments about presentation etc. Here in all of their glory they are:

Well, you didn't really expect to see bowl of buttered cucumber did You?

My mouli work paid dividends when Sarah presented her work, first to the teacher and then to me for lunch, haddock in Mornay Sauce and Buttercrumbs with Duchesse potatoes. Knowing how keen some of you are to see the lunches I have included Sarah's handiwork.

The afternoon passed by with Rory demonstrating 1,001 things to do with eggs, like perfect classic omelets, souffle omelets, frittatas, bindings for fish cakes oh you get the picture. I now believe that the poultry of East Cork and beyond will be working overtime this weekend as 62 students desperately practice their ovoid culinary classics. Certainly the Ballymaloe hens were racing toward the safety of the Palais des Poulets as we left.

Another week complete, a quarter of the way through, three weeks till the first exams, an awful lot learned and a hell of a lot more to come. Intense yes, Shattering yes, Worth it Oh Yes.

1 comment:

  1. can't wait to taste the new and improved version mmmmm
    Good use of threes by the way