A warning to my vegetarian friends, this post has photos of boned and jointed chicken.
It’s the start of a new block of lessons with a new Chef. I like the way Chef Michael set the tone straight up-front by sharing his two basic expectations; we respond to him when he gives an instruction (yes Chef!) and we follow that instruction immediately…. no problem! Having 25 years of experience behind him, including being an Executive Chef at a two hatted restaurant, it was evident that he runs a tight kitchen from the get-go, it was also obvious that he has a sense of fun, enjoys teaching and is a hands-on teacher….what’s not to like! Chef shared tips throughout the class and I tried to capture all of them. At this stage his focus is primarily on us picking up the technical skill & not on food presentation. That makes prefect sense, but I still try to think about how I would present a dish.
I have been looking forward to the more technical lessons…and they have finally arrived! The first poultry lesson included; breaking down two chickens, boning out Chicken Marylands, making Chicken Ballontine, preparing and baking un-split chicken breast on the bone, making a tasty Red Chicken Leg Curry with Mushrooms, and a lesson on making duck fat (think I will continue to buy it already made!). It was a busy class which started at 7.30 am and ended at 1.30pm with no break…but we did get to eat some of our finished dishes and I loved every minute.
The first chicken we jointed sauté… removing the wings, jointing the legs and thigh into a Maryland cut and removing the breast from the bone … resulting in a bounty for the stock pot. The Maryland was boned and the chicken breast skinned. First tip is always remove the wishbone before jointing the chicken…makes it so much easier!
For the Chicken Ballontine, chicken breasts & eggs whites were blended until smooth in a cold food processor. Cream was gradually added to the chicken mix to emulsify and seasoning added. The golden rule with seasoning any charcuterie is the percentage of salt is 2% of the volume (in this case of the chicken, cream & egg whites). Added to the mix was finely diced celery and finely cut dried cranberries. Using a piping bag the mixture was piped into the boned Maryland and rolled in plastic. There was more farce than needed so I also made a boudin blanc.These were steamed and then cooked on the stove top until browned. You will notice in the fry pan is a cartouche… this assists in ensuring the ballontines don’t stick.
Chicken breast is very lean & easily dries out when roasted. The classic solution is to lard the bird, which is to cover the meat in bacon (or better still prosciutto). The bacon is secured using kitchen string…. did you know if when you are making the initial tie you loop the string not once but twice, the string will grip and make it easier to stay firm? To ensure it is safe to eat, chicken should be baked until 74 degrees celsius. With the exception of the jointing, which will take practice, this was very straight forward. I see a lot of practice in the weeks ahead.
The last dish was the Red Chicken Curry (recipe below). The red curry paste in this version is pre-made. If like me you are a bit of a puritan when it comes to cooking (hey no judgment…at least I’m aware), you can find recipes for the paste on the internet…but let it be known there are some pretty good ready made ones on the market. The important thing is to taste before adding the sugar towards the end…depending on the red curry paste you may need to hold some back. Steamed Jasmin rice was the accompaniment and Chef gave a fool proof method to cook a small amount of rice. Rinse the rice to remove the starch, you will know when this has been achieved as the water will run clear. Add the rinsed rice to boiling water, once it comes back to the boil simmer for 11 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and return to the pot and cover with foil. It can sit for several minutes…just run a fork through it and you will find it well cooked and fluffy.
It was a great class and I am looking forward to the weekend when I can practice some of the techniques I learned. I haven’t heard back as yet from the restaurant I approached re the mandatory kitchen experience but I haven’t given up hope. I am sure if this one doesn’t come off something else will present itself … it all feels just too right not to work out. There is a break next week, and the following week we will work with Duck and Quail. I hope to see you back….until then!
Red Chicken leg Curry with Steamed Jasmin Rice
This is a tasty dish but it does use a pre-made red curry sauce. I would usually make my own spice paste, but using a superior paste and adjusting it to suit your taste result in a very satisfying dish.
- 2 Chicken Maryland (skin on)
- 20 mls Vegetable Oil
- 20 gm Red Curry Paste
- 660 mls Coconut Cream
- 100 gas Button Mushrooms
- 30 gm Palm Sugar (This may be too much depending on the paste. Add 3/4 to start and taste when all ingredients are added. Taste and add more to suit taste if required.)
- 30 gm Fresh Lime Juice
- 30 mls Fish Sauce
- 1/2 Onion – fine dice
- Corriander Stems – several – finely cut
- Corriander leaves
- 200 gm Jasmin Rice
Cut the Maryland into thigh and drumstick. Add half the oil to a hot pan and then add the chicken. Sauté to colour the skin. Remove from the pan.
Add the remaining oil and cook off the onion & corriander stems to soften (no colour). Add the curry paste and cook out until aromatic. Add the coconut cream and bring to boil.
Reduce the heat, add the chicken and mushrooms. Cook for 30 mins.
Add the 3/4 of the palm sugar, fish sauce & lime juice. Cook for 5 mins and taste – adjust as required, i.e., more palm sugar etc. Add the chopped corriander leaves.
Cook until the desired consistency and serve 1 drum stick and 1 thigh with cooked Jasmin Rice. Garnish with a few corriander leaves and a wedge of lime.