Week one of meat fab down, two to go. As far as a group effort goes, this was not a stellar week. On an individual basis I would say I’m above average, but I’m with a group of people who, for the most part, make me and a few others look like geniuses.
Yesterday we were berated as a group by Chef, who proclaimed that most of us would fail. Chef said to me on my way out of class (I am now consistently the last person to leave) that at least half were going to fail and asked me what I thought (he did complement me halfway by saying that I “appeared to be intelligent”). My response was pretty much a plead, “Please, get rid of them”. In less than a year we’ll be working in the cafe kitchen, preparing food for real, paying customers. Having spent just a few minutes in that kitchen yesterday I couldn’t imagine getting through a single service with some of these folks. I imagine it would be something like Hell’s Kitchen.
On to what was actually accomplished – we eventually deboned a whole chicken (keeping it whole) for a galantine, which is much easier than you might think; we cut up a duck into usable parts (2 deboned breasts & thighs/legs for confit); cut a turkey breast into 3 portion (tenderloin, roast and just plain breast I guess along with scallopine). Yesterday we entered the world of beef by cleaning a flank steak and cutting up a chuck into usable parts (a roast, a steak, scraps for stew meat & ground beef). Today was cleaning a tenderloin and cutting steaks from the sirloin. Nothing all that challenging, until you realize how much money you’re holding and your mind starts playing tricks on you.
Yesterday we ate some turkey burgers with curry for lunch as well as regular beef burgers. Both were really good. Now I know what can make a turkey burger edible. Chef was also going to prepare the duck confit yesterday but forgot, so that was prepared today.
A classmate was given the task of removing the confited meat from the bones. When he was done he cleaned up where he was working, which included throwing the rendered duck fat down the product sink with a sign which reads “NO DISCARDED FAT” – we use grease buckets instead so that the drains don’t clog up. Chef came over to check on his confit and asked where the duck fat was. Unnamed Student indicated that it was down the drain, at which point Chef yelled “The confit is FUCKED!!!” and walked away.
The confit was eventually saved when we realized another class had duck fat rendering on a stove and some was scooped off to rescue ours. Still, a lot of good duck fat was just pissed away for no reason.
RECIPE FOR DUCK CONFIT (feel free to adjust amounts as this is for 8 portions):
8 lbs duck legs
1 oz salt
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered bay leaf (or 2 whole)
Pinch ground cloves
As needed extra duck fat
1. Trim off excess fat from duck & reserve
2. Leave thigh attached to the drumstick.
3. Rub duck pieces w/salt & spices, refrigerate overnight.
4. Render trimmed fat plus as much extra fat as needed, you’ll need enough to completely cover the duck pieces.
5. Rinse the duck pieces, dry and then put them along with the rendered fat in a brazier, dutch oven or casserole (or something big enough to hold them all). Simmer gently in fat over low heat or in 300 degree oven (150 Celsius) until very tender, about 1.5-2 hrs.
6. Remove cooked duck from fat & pack into clean container (clean is essential). Pour the melted fat over the meat so that it’s completely covered but be careful not to pour in any juices.
7. Remove duck pieces & use as needed.
The confit will keep for several weeks, so long as it is submerged in fat and you’ve made sure the container was clean. If not it will just rot.
Next week we move into veal and pork and have three papers due, along with several tests I’m sure. Thank god for the long weekend.