Day 21: Stewing in the Kitchen

Blackened onions for beef marmite (stock)

Today was about wet cooking techniques, or cooking things in liquid. And what it amounts to is a lot of standing around and watching liquid simmer. Our task was to make a flavorful veal blanquette–basically chunks of veal poached in a flavorful, but colorless broth–and a pot au feu–short ribs simmered in a beef broth.

Both dishes were a success for Ricardo and me today (even though I reversed which bundles of vegetables go in which broth). The meat hit it’s goal of “fall-off-the-bone” status.

Pot au Feu (beef short ribs in a hot broth)

While making these dishes isn’t very exciting (more fun to eat them, in my opinion), we did have a master chef as our assistant chef today. Chef Marc Bauer, a master chef who originally hails from France filled in for us. There are a few signature marks of a good chef, and Chef Bauer hits all of them. He gracefully flies through the kitchen checking on everyone and making sure no one is boiling their stews too quickly. He was handed half a cow when he walked in to break down into even-sized chunks for us to cook with. Chef mentioned this would take him about thirty or forty minutes, so we should start on preparing our pot au feu to give him time. He was done by the time Chef finished talking. And the man can definitely wield a knife. Just check out this video:

TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t mix rice while it’s cooking. It’ll cause the rice to become sticky (and not in the good way). Mix it after it’s done and slightly cooled. The French call this “egrainer” and you’ll get a fluffy texture by doing this.

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