Last night at work an order walked in with two ducks medium from my station. I dutifully went about making the two dishes and since we weren’t busy, had more than enough time to make sure each dish was perfect.
Paying attention to the time I put the pan in the oven I removed it about seven minutes later and removed the breasts from the pan to let them rest while I started to assemble the plates, starting with a spoonful of polenta each and then the mushroom/duck confit/asparagus ragout, forming a perfect circle.
The next step was to slice each breast and then ‘fan’ them across the ragout, before saucing the plate with duck jus.
As I put the plates onto the pass the guy on grill commented that the plates looked nice and I responded that I’d nailed the temperature. The food runner walked the plates out and 30 seconds returned, not having even laid them down on the table. Apparently one of the women who’d ordered the duck commented “I hope mine is done more than that” after she saw the first plate. No you dipshit, you both ordered medium.
Hence I ended up removing any traces of pink for these women by flashing each slice in a hot pan, not really cooking anything at all, but at least giving them the impression that some real transformation had taken place.
Last week I had an order for the scallop appetizer split – one came back because it wasn’t cooked enough for the customer but the other person was more than happy to eat theirs. As much as I hated doing it I hockeypucked a scallop and sent the dish back out.
I admit that I’m not the reincarnation of Escoffier and am prone to error, but there are few culinary crimes approaching well done scallops and duck breast in my mind. Yeah, a medium duck breast is going to be pink in the middle, and to me medium is too done for duck breast. And how could anyone think a scallop that eats like a ball of rubber is good, unless you need to strengthen your jaw muscles?
Conversely every time I send something out that I think is a little over done, it has yet to come back. This happened last week when I forgot and left four duck breasts in the pan to rest. No doubt they were perfect when I removed them from the oven, but sitting in a 500 degree cast iron skillet isn’t doing them any favors. I was royally pissed at myself for that one and fully expected all of them to come back, but to my surprise, not one of them did.
Perhaps it’s simply a function of where I’m working. Where I worked at in Chicago we didn’t ask for temperatures, we just put the food on the plate and people ate it and they liked it.