Thursday, September 28, 2006
Déjà vu...Hollandaise Part Deux
Day 1 of Pantry class gave us a bit of the ol' déjà vu, because we started out by making a hollandaise (which we did first day in last quarter's Regional class) and then a wine butter sauce. We ran out of white wine, so some of us made beurre rouge as opposed to beurre blanc. Red, white, doesn't really matter, because it was all butter!
My hollandaise was okay, but I used a little too much water when reviving my reduction, so the flavor and color were a bit light, but I got points for the consistency.
The beurre rouge turned out fine if a little undersalted. I'm really having to work on that, because I'm afraid of oversalting things, but it is amazing how the right amount of salt really does enhance the food. (I know, I'm kinda late to the salt lick party. It's been a long day!) It's also funny to watch these first day practicals, because there's an initial rushing and hustling to get our mise en place ready, and then we sort of mill around until someone takes the plunge. The hollandaise wasn't so bad, because we were all pretty familiar with that, but not so much the beurre. I was desperately thinking about an episode of No Reservations, where Anthony Bourdain sort of mashes up a beurre blanc during last season's Key West episode, but I thought it might be a bit o'er the top to start mushing up the butter with my hands like he did.
For the beurre rouge, you reduce your acids (red wine, vinegar, lemon juice), along with some minced shallots and peppercorns, about half or until it becomes sort of syrupy. Mine probably could have been more syrupy, but time was marching on, and I need to finish the sauce.
You also need to reduce some heavy cream, which involves simmering cream until it reduces by at least half and gets thicker. This requires patience, because you are 1) afraid it will burn, and 2) it takes longer than you think.
After you reduce the red wine mixture, you need to whisk in about a ton of butter that you cubed. Seriously, I put in 1 1/2 pounds of butter in my sauce. You whisk it in, a few chunks at a time, over low heat, waiting until it incorporates before adding more. Then, you whisk in the reduced cream and simmer just a little longer until you get a good, spoon coating (remember nappe?) consistency. Voila! red wine butter sauce, which looks a lot like raspberry ice cream base. Go figure.
Our class is huge! There's 15 people in it, so you can imagine the jostling for the stove burners. The Cutest Chiclet and I are paired up again, which is good, because we work well together. Although, it has been hinted that we are going to be reassigned new teammates based on integrating the former Regional class. We were going to be meeting from 5 pm to 9:30 pm, but since there weren't enough folks in the Regional class that meets from 12-4:30, they decided to move the Regional folks into our class (all 3 of them) and move our class time to the 12-4:30 slot, which is much better, timewise.
This means that Dimmer Switch is back with us...evidently, she accepted the fact that she needed to repeat Regional and signed up for it and then got bumped to Pantry...mysterious ways, I tell ya! Mother Hen has ended up with Dimmer, and she's asking for everyone's prayers that she survives this class. I have a feeling she's going to need a lot of spiritual comfort...maybe even some comfort of the "spirits" nature as well.
We've got more men in our class this time, too. Big Stuff is ecstatic to have some fellow XYers to play with. He was actually helpful and teammate-like today. Could he be turning over a new leaf?
Erinwanted to see a picture of the hat we are required to wear. It's definitely a "chef in training" kind of hat. It looks kinda like this one, but it's cloth and this one is mesh. I'll try and see if I can get someone to take an actual picture of my actual hat with an actual head in it for you all. The hat is cotton, with a ton of little pleats that totally disappear whenever you wash the damn thing. Ever so much to iron...so much fun.
Last night, it was hard to get my head in the game, because I had received news earlier in the day that a friend had passed away very unexpectedly. I was glad we made sauces, because I could concentrate on whisking myself into the early stages of carpal tunnel syndrome and not actually think about anything else outside of the bowl and the whisk.
Today is Banquet class, which is probably going to make me or break me this quarter. I'm really not feeling the Banquet love right now, but maybe that will change. I'm off to study my chicken fabrication before class, so wish me luck on our little practical today.