day five - meat

Note: For six weeks, July 5 - August 11, I will be enrolled in the culinary arts cooking and pastry/baking certificate programs at Boston University. Cooking is Monday and Tuesday, baking is Wednesday and Thursday. We have to keep a daily journal of the experience, so I'll be blogging about the class every day.

I feel like I'm always complaining about not real things in these posts. It's like celebrities complaining about being too famous or rich people whining that they have too much money. Um, that's not a real thing. "Oh, that must be terrible that you don't have enough diamond bags for all of your diamonds." I mean, on the one hand, sometimes things are annoying or unpleasant and that's the way it is, whether someone else is starving or has flesh-eating disease or not (good examples!). Do you know what I'm saying? Everything is trivial compared to the person with the saddest most horrible life (I think it's that girl in those vampire movies - she seems really down every time I see her), but that doesn't mean that mascara commercials aren't annoying anymore (if I am still seeing mascara commercials in 30 years that say they've finally figured out how to make the twenty .01mm thick hairs on your face look .02mm thick, I hope global warming burns me alive. Your eyelashes are fine, ladies! That is also not a thing!). Do you understand where I am going with this?

So, holy hell I had so much meat last night.

We had to be in the kitchen, ready to go with our whites on, at 5:30pm sharp to get our chickens in the oven. Get those chickens in the oven! So we lightly oiled, salted and peppered the birds, put some garlic and thyme in the cavity, chopped the wing tips off so they wouldn't burn, trussed them up and put them on a piece of oiled parchment at 425 degrees on one side for 20 minutes.

Only, they stuck to the parchment. That parchment became a part of the bird. I had never heard of this method before, but both Chefs Madden and DeLuca said they had done it before without any problem. The only thing we could think was that this was possibly a different type of parchment, that was or was not coated? Maybe? Who knows. So the half of the bird you see in the picture at the bottom of the post is the only presentable side - the other side is naked as a jaychicken. Which is too bad, because you want that skin to form a nice, tight covering around the bird so that the insides are basting and steaming and cooking so nice. Anyway, I'm just going to cook mine in a well-oiled and seasoned pan from now on, I think. Also, we cooked the bird on each side and then breasts up, which I've never done before. I can't decide if it's worth the risk that the skin will stick to the bottom.

Then came time to cut a whole chicken into the 8 classic pieces. I've done this before, but watching someone do it right in front of you, slowly and methodically, showing you where those joints are, guiding the knife tight against the bird so you don't waste any meat, means I ended up with wonderfully clean cuts. When all was said and done I had just the clean backbone as waste (which went into the stock container with a few pieces we weren't using). The drumsticks and thighs went into red wine for tonight's coq au vin and the breasts became a straightforward chicken saute with an onion, garlic, tomato and basil sauce.

Then it was time for Chef DeLuca to demonstrate porchetta. The pork roast was cut and flattened, rolled with fennel seed, red pepper flakes and oodles of garlic, rolled up, trussed and then rosemary and marjoram were tucked under the trussing. It went into an oiled pan and cooked low and slow, some red potatoes thrown in at the end.

Finally it was time for steak au poivre. We didn't have a lot of time, so we quickly coated the gigantic steaks in very coarsely cracked pepper and some salt. We sauteed them in clarified butter, only about 4-5 minutes on each side, put them on a plate to warm, made a sauce of cognac (flambe!!!!), cream, butter and demi glace, topped the steaks and brought them directly to the table.

By this time it was 10pm. I have to say, the steak au poivre was amazing. Maybe one of the best I've ever had. I love, love, love pepper and for some reason this pepper, despite being fully coated with many whole cloves, wasn't overpowering at all. The chicken saute was also delicious, particularly because I think we reduced our sauce really well and seasoned it perfectly (if I do say so myself). The porchetta was also great. It was a bit dry, but only because the roast itself had so little fat. Chef DeLuca said she added stock, water and even had the oven on the steam function to keep it moist, but more than anything she wishes we could have done it with a good, fatty pork belly.

Oh god, though, more fat. So much meat. So much fat. It was 10pm and I was full of steak, chicken and pork, plus way too much butter and oil and cream. I'm not at all disappointed we didn't get to the trout almondine. So rich. So meat. Uggghhh. Blergggg.

Anyway, tonight is coq au vin, ratatouille and the trout almondine we didn't get to yesterday.