To start, here’s an interesting article from the NY Times about tasting menus/small plates – very appropriate given the class I’m in right now.

Todays class was as challenging in some ways as yesterday even though we had the ingredient list.  For me this was an issue of raising the level of complexity since I had time to think about what I was going to make.  Todays theme was much along the line of yesterday – that was to incorporate a main ingredient into two dishes.  Today I did this in a cheeky manner, only using the fat from my duck breast to saute monkfish in.  Chef liked it.

So here’s what I made, complete with commentary:

Sauteed monkfish, wilted spinach, red wine/veal stock reduction –

I carried the main ingredient over in the form of duck fat here, which I sauteed the monkfish in.  Initially I was going to also use the cracklings as a garnish but this didn’t really work out for me.  I seasoned the spinach with veal stock, garlic and red wine vinegar.

What went right?  I cooked the monkfish really well and using duck fat turned out to be a great move.  Being the first time I’ve worked with monkfish I was kind of winging it, but it worked.  The spinach was also a nice complement.

What went wrong?  The sauce.  No more red wine reductions at school.  Reducing crappy wine just makes it crappier.  I would have been better off reducing the veal stock.

What would I change?  Not much.  I liked this dish, just with a better wine.

Pan roasted duck breast, grit cakes, red onion confit, gastrique and chive oil –

What went right?  The flavor profiles for the duck, grits and onions.

What went wrong?  Between the gastrique & oil there just wasn’t enough sauce.  Might consider doing something more with the red onion confit – like making it saucier or something.  Not sure at the moment though.  I also overcooked the duck breast a little.

Change?  Needs a proper sauce.

So the challenge for tomorrow is three courses.  The proteins are salmon and chicken, the third course is our option.  I’d reveal my master plan but I don’t want to jinx myself.


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