The other night due to snow, class was “cancelled.” Our chef took that to mean, he was only going to lecture us for 1 hour (instead of the usual 2) and then show us how to make consomme (something that usually takes at least 2 hours). He also ended up showing us how to make caramel (which got my mouth successfully shut for 5 minutes).
But it was totally worth staying in the snow storm. Because in the end we got to do shots. Of consomme (beef broth). As unappetizing as that sounds, at first I had absolutely no desire to partake, it was actually a great learning experience. Chef lined up the styrofoam cups and laddled an ounce or so of consomme in each persons cup. The first thing we had to do was taste it plain, which was pretty gross (this was a chicken stock clarified into beef broth using ground beef and egg whites). He then had us add a little fennel seed and tarragon. After swishing it around some, we tried it again, a little better.
Next we added a drop or two of sherry. It was slowly getting there…and then finally we added a pinch of salt and pepper. And wow, it was amazing. People started laddling out more and finishing it in the same way and really drinking down the stuff. Two other chef instructors wandered in at some point and also got involved with the lesson.
But it made so much sense all of a sudden, how many times have I been cooking something and am trying to adjust the seasoning at the end. I end up adding a pinch of salt and pepper and that’s it. Everything suddenly tastes that much better. It not that it turns the dish necessariliy saltier, but that salt is the carrier for the other spices. It enhances all the other spices flavors.
Another snow bound weekend on the horizon, I’m going to mess with my favorite chicken wrapped chicken stuffed with chicken dish. And we’ve got midterms in master chefs class next week…so I guess I’ll also be studying. But the great thing about culinary school is that cooking also counts as studying (hopefully).