Week 9: Thursday, Spanish bull’s blood, Berny and Rioja

Our day had a slightly Spanish theme to it. But first I got my group off to a fun experiment by having them poach eggs in Beurre Fondue at a 145-150º. The result was amazing and truly decadent. The cholesterol and sat. fat police would have a field day. Coincidentally the new issue of Saveur (March 2008) is all about butter and they have decreed that it is back in fashion (based on consumer consumption).
After that snack we were able to get on with the day’s lesson. The theme of the lectures for the week has been soups and the three categories: thick, thin and specialty.  We have made a consommé and today we made a Spanish specialty soup. Garlic soup.  This one had a nice blending of saffron and smoked paprika. Chef Dale also had them cube potatoes and caramelize them in a pan before returning them at the end to the soup. This offered a great textural and taste contrast. They also poached some eggs and placed it on top of grilled bruschetta. Every GM rotation appears to have a soup with a poached egg.  They are very satisfying.

My group began their rotation full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on challenges.  So, I told them that if we could fit in more dishes that we would. The main focus of our day is to complete the scheduled curriculum, but if we had extra time and were able to adequately plan for it we would do a little more.  Today we pushed that a little by adding an Amuse Bouche of butternut squash filled agnolotti (BTW this link will take you right to Thomas Keller and the recipe for the pasta that he learned from a Nona in Piemonte) served with a walnut beurre noisette and finished with some good balsamic.img_0318.jpg

Justin our kiwi took this from beginning to end and he ran into his share of obstacles.  But in the end he persevered and created a fine amuse.  Of course this project took him away from his chef du jour duties.

At the beginning of every rotation I set up a rotating schedule that has each student take a turn at being in charge of production.  The student Chef is supposed to assign themselves the least challenging tasks so that they can focus on getting the group through production.  They are responsible for creating the production time line.  This day was challenging and as a group they are learning how to cook in a new environment and under the guidance of a new chef.  We still got done in the nick of time.  However, I believe the group learned a valuable lesson which they will carry with them for the rest of the rotation.

The meal was set up as a buffet.  We had roasted chicken, Samfaina (a sweet and sour vegetable stew from Spain) and Pommes Berny. Berny took us for a loop, because we had to create a potato purée and then form it into quenelles, bread it with breadcrumbs mixed with almonds then deep fry them.  Potato purée by its very nature is mushy so it was really tough to try to keep the quenelle shape through the whole process.  The next time I meet Berny I will be ready for him.

We paired this meal with a tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain.


We finished off the day with a tasting of Spanish cheeses. Olé



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