Last Friday was mostly chef demo regarding game meats: pheasant, squab, ostrich. We got to play with the venison a little, but only very little as we only had to cut it into noisettes (what medallions will now be referred to henceforth). Oh, and we had some leftover racks of lamb we had to cut up first into chops for 2. Being proficient enough in this now, Chef asked me to also do the one that was left over which was pretty cool.
When everything was cooked we had a buffet set up across my station. The best was the squab which was simply marinated in soy sauce and oil & roasted for a brief time. I’ve had pheasant and venison before and like both, so no surprises there. Ostrich was like a milder form of venison. Despite the chef’s urgings to include lamb on my plate (I’ve never seen anyone get so excited about lamb, a sentiment expressed later by another chef) I abstained based on the experience of the previous day.
We did also get to cut up rabbit but didn’t get a taste. This was surprisingly easier to deal with than I would have thought, and after a check at the grocery store this weekend a surprisingly cheap protein, though there isn’t too much meat. I’ve had rabbit before and now that I know how to fabricate it will probably start to include it in my home cooking.
On to today – variety meats. Yeah!!!!!!!!!! As many of you who know me this is something I get fairly excited about. A recent get together at Jon’s reveals my excitement about offal – several people were asking me what kind of food my far off restaurant would serve and I said that I’d like to do offal and seafood. After several minutes of trying to name said nonexistent restaurant someone recommended “Piece of Mind”. I’m not sold on this as the name of a restaurant though it could work for a dish. “My wife will have the salmon and I’ll finally have piece of mind.”
Anyway, back to today. After taking tests, watching videos and the like, a few of us received some assignments to do. Mine was to grind all the meat, first pork then a combination of venison/beef/veal. These would eventually be turned into sausages seasoned with Quatres de Epice (four spices if you hadn’t guess, in this case pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and something else, maybe salt?). I ended up having to grind the meat in one of the baking kitchens – long story but the mixer that we have the attachments to has apparently been permanently moved. The chef there said “I’ll let you grind today”. What the hell about tomorrow? While there I felt like a three-headed monster. Their kitchen smells sweet, they were serenely mixing dough for God knows what and there I was grinding about 10 pounds of meat in their midst. Once everything was done and prepared for demo’s the rest of the class came into the kitchen.
Chef demo’d oxtail which we’ll finish braising tomorrow – not something I need to much demoing of. He then did a demonstration of sweet breads which he sauteed and then made a Madeira/cream sauce for. This was so fucking good that I just kept eating it for the remainder of the day. I asked about the cost of fresh/wholesale sweetbreads and was told about $15/lb – not something I’ll be preparing too much of at home, despite how unbelievably good, though unhealthy, they are. For the uninitiated sweetbreads come from the thymus gland or pancreas of young animals, notably veal and lamb, though the true connoisseurs consume only the thymus gland.
The dish that we prepared today was sauteed calf’s liver with caramelized onions and sausages (from the meat I ground earlier in the day). Drizzled over this was a simple sauce of reduced red wine monte au beurre. Due to the lack of restraint I showed with the sweetbreads my appetite was fairly well shot, but I did eat about a quarter of this dish which was excellent as well.
I only wish that we would have been able to work with brains or foie gras (thanks to the silly ban this one was out), but I guess I can’t have everything. Tomorrow we move on to underwater creatures which will be good for me, since that’s the other half of my planned menu.