Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Culinary Class #2 : Duck Confit and Compound Butters

This is actually a backlogged post from about a week ago - I have obviously been behind but I wanted to make sure to write about the amaaaaazing stuff we learned about in Week 2 at FCI.

Let me start out by saying that I made mayonnaise for the first time - it was actually such an arm workout. You start with Egg Yolks, a little White Wine Vinegar, Lemon Juice, a little water, Mustard, Salt, Cayenne and of course, the vegetable oil. You have to continue to whisk as you slloooowlllly add the oil... if it goes in it could break and you'll have to start over. Even more difficult is making hollandaise sauce - which is pretty much the same concept but you add butter and it has to be whisked over a double boiler and maintained a perfect temperature. Chef Will who demoed this for us had a hard time and his hollandaise broke and he had to start over. Pretty much you need to make sure it's at perfect temperature otherwise you'll end up with scrambled eggs if it's too hot. You also need to maintain it at room temp for serving otherwise it's no good. So think about that when you order this tempermental sauce at Brunch when you're hung over... it's not easy! Pic of my (SUCCESSFUL!) mayo below:

We also talked about compound butters - they are literally my new favorite thing. It's the EASIEST thing you can make the the possibilities are endless. All you need is unsalted softened butter and... well whatever you want to flavor it with. We made black truffle and chive butter which meant folding in chopped black truffle (you can get at Whole Foods in a can), finely chopped chives, and black truffle oil. You transfer this softened butter mixture onto parchment or wax paper and roll it into a log... take this, freeze, and use on anything! Most restaurants keep compound butters on hand so that waiters can cut a coin of the butter and place it on top of lobsters, steaks, etc. allowing it to melt on the protein on it's way out to the table... what an amazing party trick, yes?

You can also make sweet compounds, mixing butter with fresh strawberry jam and putting this on french toast, brown sugar and maple for pancakes.. whatever! Are you, or are you not amazed?

We also started the preservation process of our duck confit that would we use in our soup next week (coming in a blog this or next week) - you basically buy a duck legs and preserve and freeze it in it's on fat... that's what confit means. It's the french technique of preserving cooked meat without refrigeration by storing it in fat. This gives the duck a total tenderness and slightly gamey taste.. if you've ever had duck confit, you know it's the best thing ever. More on Duck Confit next week.

Our main dish that we created was a sea scallop (TOP SCALLOP)... like most unseasoned cooks, seafood scares me. Especially scallops which are considered a high-end seafood. It was surprisingly easy to sear them - just get the stainless steal pan super hot (to keep it from sticking to the pan) and give each side a few seconds for a beautiful sear. We served this on top of a tomato confit (which was herbs and olive oil pretty much) and a duet of purees: Cauliflower (which tastes like mashed potatoes) and Pea.

A Puree can be made from pretty much everything - just add cream in a blender! You cook all the veggies (or whatever) in cream over the stove and then stick it in a blender to get it smooth. Easy right? You can also toss in flavorful herbs or things like garlic or truffle oil (which is what we did because nothing beats truffle oil)... so simple! With the pea puree we cooked it in chicken stock which gave it a really wonderful flavor... got rid of some of that pea tastes and graduated it above pea baby food.

This was a great class - much more enjoyable than day 1 which was a complete clusterfuck of chopping veggies...

Picture of my beautiful results below!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

butter with jam.

mmm... jam.

jam plan!