For our practical in Advanced Culinary Techniques, we have to pick a painting and create a dish based off of it. Both my partner and I are Dali fans so we picked this painting. Should be an interesting plate…
The picture really doesn’t do my plate justice because I snapped it after the judge played with my food a little bit. It was a very eventful weekend. Five of us from the school packed up a big truck to go to Schenectady, New York to participate in the competition on Saturday. A series of unfortunate events, too much rain, crazy directions through the middle of New Jersey, not being able to print out recipe packets, and finally an ambulance ride all led up Lisa and I not being able to compete until Sunday.
Which turned out to be a very good thing. I was able to listen in on the critiques from the Chef that would be judging us, which put the both of us in a better position. We both decided to replate our dishes and add a few little extras. We also got slotted to go at 7AM in the morning, so our food was probably the first food our tasting judges were eating. And yes it was tasty on its own, but you know that when you’re hungry, everything tastes that much better. And for some reason, the chef judges were just being plain HELPFUL. I don’t know if it was because they felt bad for us, but we constantly were asked if everything was all right, if we needed anything, I even got a little help with a special mandolin.
All in all it was a great experience. Funny that I popped what I thought would have been my last bite of the chicken stuffed chicken in my mouth, and then ten minutes later found myself being talked into tightening up a few things on my plate to compete in a professional competition with the possibility of winning a gold medal and a prize.
* A HUGE thanks to everyone that has helped, tasted, and generally put up with my chicken stuffed chicken these past SIX months. It blows my mind still that this dish has come so far!
The second night of this gruesome process involved making yet another consomme. This time, instead of just regular ground meat, we ground up some pork cheeks. It seems with this whole thing, just when you think it can’t get any grosser…IT DOES.
I think the worst part of it all was shredding the meat off the cooked skull. My chef told me to “distinguish between the meaty bits and the nasty bits.” Sure simple enough…except that it all looked pretty nasty.
My partner managed to get together all the garnishes that would be going in the head cheese while I messed around with the chef practicing my beloved chicken roulades (he’s a really GREAT partner for putting up with that). And then we started building our head cheese, just like a very surreal lasagna.
Here’s a shot of it before it went into the refridgerator for the night:
And the final product. Thought it would be fun to have the peas lined up and pretty on the top. But there is really no making this thing pretty…
And no…I didn’t eat it. I don’t even know (or think care) what happened to this thing.
Last week, at the end of class my chef asked if I had ever made head cheese. My answer, umm…no. What is head cheese you ask? Well its not a cheese. Its a meat jelly made with pieces from the head of a cow or pig in aspic. Different flavors such as onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, salt, and vinegar are added. It is eaten like a cold lunch meat or sausage.
So when I walked into class last night, my chef greats me with his typical wide eyed expression excitedly telling me my head was waiting for me in the meat reach-in. His instructions for the night, told in an oddly calm manner, are to remove the eyes, use a cleaver to split the head down the middle, scoop out the brains, and then set up the head in stock pot with mirepoix to cook all night long.
Simple enough…I tried to be brave and cut out one of the eyes myself and take a few hacks at the head with the cleaver. Even scooped out the brains and picked out the shards of skull.
Once the head went into the stock pot, all was good again in the world. Just like making regular stock. Tonight…we’re gonna pick the meat off the skull and set it in the meat jelly. Not sure if I’m excited…or terrified.
Made four different brushchetta toppings and some crazy butter (called Cafe de Paris butter with nearly 20 ingredients).
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