Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm back!

Hello everyone. It's been a while since the last post. I haven't been cooking in school at all until just last week, so I haven't been incredibly inspired. Right now, i'm in Meat and Seafood Identification and Fabrication, so i'm finally cooking real stuff every day. The first week we did all sorts of seafood breakdown, and now we're on poultry. Pig, lamb and beef have yet to come. This class definitely promises some interesting stuff.

In other news, I have another blog, this one with my own personal restaurant reviews. It's not exactly reviews per se; i'm doing it as a record of the aspects that I like and don't like about restaurants. It will be kind of opinionated, and not horribly exciting, but I guess if you want to know what a chef-to-be thinks about a certain place, then you're right on.

Check it out:

I've got some good food items coming up. Right below you'll see a few things with shellfish, and I have striped bass I'll break down in the next few days, so check in every now and then!

Monday, February 25, 2008


Here we go with some shellfish breakdown.

I've got oysters, clams, and mussels. The shrimp were already de-veined, so i'll do that another time. Basically what you're doing is cutting the adductor muscles on these little creatures; which releases the pressure on the shell; letting you get in there.

An oyster shucker is quite necessary for the oysters, because these guys are kind of like rocks, so you don't want to use a regular knife; as it might break.

Oyster knives are super cheap. Here we go $7.95!

Oyster knife

Take a towel, put it underneath the oyster, and wrap it on the side you're going to hold it with to protect your hand. Put the flatter side of the oyster up.

Get the point of the knife lodged in at the hinge. This might be quite difficult; I had to use some serious strength to get it in there well.

Once it's in there, rotate the knife any way possible to open up the oyster.

Then slide your knife along the top of the shell and cut the muscle from the top shell. The muscle is on the opposite side of the hinge.

When that muscle is cut, you can pull off the top shell.

Now, scrape the meat out, cutting the muscle off the bottom as well.

Turn the whole thing over in the shell as this is your presentation side.

Here's a really little one that was attached to one of the big ones.

Again, putting the flat side of the oyster up, wrap it in a towel, lodge the point of the oyster shucker in there, and rotate the knife to open it. Slide the knife along the top, cutting the muscle, opening the shell. Scrape the meat out from the shell, cutting the bottom muscle and flipping the meat over.

Now, clams. A paring knife is all you need.

The clams are very tightly closed, but you should be able to find a small hole near one side. Get the knife in there, and cut toward the hinge, cutting the muscle.

Once one muscle is cut, it's pretty easy getting your knife to the other side cutting the other muscle.

Now, scrape the meat out from one side, scraping the muscles away, plopping the meat on one side, and scraping the rest out.


That stringy stuff that hangs out is called the beard. Pull on the beard; removing it.

Right where the beard was should be a small hole where you can insert your knife.

Then, turn the mussel on the side opposite the hinge, slide your knife along the long side (not too deep, you don't want to cut flesh yet!), rotate the whole thing, cutting the muscle. The muscle on this is opposite the hinge, on the long side.

Right here is the point when you cut the adductor muscle.

At this point, you can open it up. Scrape the flesh out from one side, cutting the muscle, plopping the meat into the other shell, and then scraping out again.

So that's oysters, clams and mussels.

Here I dipped oysters, shrimp, bell pepper and large onion slices in tempura batter, and deep fried them.

Here's a spicy shrimp, mussel, clam and scallop fra diavolo sauce with pasta.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rabbit Chasseur

Here's rabbit braised; hunter style (chasseur is French for hunter). It's hunter style because the hunter catches the animal, and on their way back from hunting they gathered mushrooms.

Here we have rabbit hindquarters, fresh parsley, two roma tomatoes, 1/4 cup white wine (I prefer dry white vermouth, it gives it a bolder flavor), about 1/4 cup clarified butter, one shallot, 8 oz assorted mushrooms, 8 oz beef stock and 8 oz demi glace.

First, start the water boiling to blanch and shock the tomatoes so you can chop them up. Also, set the oven to 300 degrees.

Here's the rabbit hindquarters. This recipe works really well (almost better, I would say) with chicken leg and thigh (which you can buy in any store).

With the shallot, you want to finely mince it, and since it's a relative of the onion, you cut it up just the same way.

Slice off the blossom first . . .

then slice off the root end.

Slice it in half lengthwise . . .

And mince (1/16" squares).

I bought about a half pound of assorted mushrooms. On the left are shiitake, crimini in the middle and white button on the right.

Slice them up evenly; about 1/4" thick.

Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Dredge (coat lightly) in flour if you prefer.

With the parsley, you want to remove the stems and just mince up the leaves.

Now, melt the butter in a heavy pan large enough to fit your meat product.

When the butter is melted and the pan is hot, add the rabbit.

You want to brown evenly on all sides.

You might want to stand them up on their sides so you can brown the sides.

When they are nicely browned, remove from the heat and cover so they stay warm.

The pan should still be hot, with quite a bit of fat in there, so add the minced shallot and mushrooms.

Toss to coat with the fat.

When the shallot is soft and has released its juices, add the wine.

Reduce this liquid by half over medium-high heat.

Next, add the demi glace and the beef stock.

Stir it all together well so it doesn't burn.

Add the meat product back in and bring up to a boil.

Once it boils, bring it down to a simmer . . .


And put it in the oven.

Now is a good time to do the tomato concasse.

You want to cook it until it's fork tender. For the rabbit; this took about an hour. If you were using chicken, it should take 30-45 minutes, but be careful, you don't want it to fall apart when you serve it.

Remove the meat from the pan.

And bring the sauce up to a boil so you can reduce it.

Add the parsley and tomato concasse.

Reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon, and serve.