Thursday, March 27, 2008

A New (old) Dish

A while back I made rabbit chassuer. Well, it's really good (maybe even a little better) with chicken leg & thigh.

One thing that's really good is dredging the protein in flour. When I do this, I like to season the flour with salt and white pepper (you can use black pepper too).

After you add the seasonings, taste the flour. It's really important to know what your product is going to taste like. Yes, flour is hard to eat, but just a little fingertip full is all you need to taste. If you can taste the salt and pepper, that's good.

Also, I got some new dishes for my birthday from my mom and sister.

Here's the straight-sided saute pan. It's a heavy, thick stainless steel, it's really great. I can start it on the stove, and throw the whole thing in the oven.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Chicken

Let's break down a chicken. If you're a little squeamish, this might be a little hard to see, but if you want to save some money when you buy chicken at the store, you can save a dollar or more per pound if you cut it up yourself.

A boning knife is good for this one, but you don't necessarily need it.

To take off the leg & thigh first, grab the bone, and cut the skin where the leg and breast meet.

Once you start to cut away the skin, it should be really clear where the muscles separate. (You might even be able to pull it apart without cutting it.)

Once you get down to the backbone, make sure you get the oyster meat out. It's in those notches right along the spine. You can slide your thumb under that meat and push it out. To separate the leg and thigh, dislocate the leg bone from the hip, and cut right between those two bones, and then follow the backbone with your knife, separating it from the rest of the carcass.

To cut the breast meat off, run your knife along the keel, and it should naturally go to one side or the other.

Lightly pull the breast muscle with one hand, and cut away the meat from the bone.

Cut right through where the wing bone meets the top of the spine to separate it from the carcass, leaving it on the breast.

Here's the leftover carcass. There is a little bit of usable meat, but just a lot of tiny bits. If you make stock, then this is very useful, but you could probably only make about a quart of stock with this carcass.

To cut off the lower wing, cut through this stretchy piece of skin, in between the bones.

This is a nice presentation piece; when you cut the breasts up this way it's called Airline Chicken breast (because the wing is still on).

I'm going to make a chicken roulade, so cut off the wing and skin it.

Because the breast is thicker in some parts than others, cut it in half through the thickest part, but leaving it as one piece (this is called butterflying).

Put the breast in plastic wrap, and use a meat mallet until it is about 1/4" thick all the way around.

I'm going to stuff it with sausage, sauteed garlic and shallots, and some greated cheese.

Spread out the sausage so it is half as thick as the chicken breast and add the other ingredients.

Roll it up.

You could tie it up as is, but chicken breast is very lean meat, so it gets dry pretty fast, so it's probably best to bard (wrap) with bacon.

Use a slip knot and continue to wrap it up so it stays in one piece.

Sear it over very high heat, browning the outside.

Put it in an oven (350-400) until it reads an internal temperature of 165, pull it out and let it sit for a few minutes, and it will cook through to around 170.

Cut off the string, and slice it up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Side Note

No dishes this week (so far). There's something I read today that I want to comment about.

In Gastronomica; Winter 2008; Jessica Bagdonis wrote a note entitled, "Growing Food Citizens in Russia." The focus of this piece was about a new term that's been popping up a lot lately, food citizen. Basically a food citizen is a person who engages "in food related behaviors that support, rather than threaten, the development of a democratic, socially and economically just, and environmentally sustainable food system." I could break down this phrase for its subjectivity, but that's inevitable, and I do not want to bore you all since you came here to see pretty pictures. This description is from Jennifer Wilkins, who is the president of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society. Basically, this society's goal is to educate people (at a higher academic level) on food and culture.
I guess I just wanted to say something about the dichotomy that exists between a 'well-rounded' education and the 'stay local' movement. To me, education's purpose, in a very broad sense is to broaden one's understanding of the world. We live in a very global environment, and this is because of education. The average level of education continues to go higher and higher, as does globalization. Now, people want us to think locally, yet the bright minds at work that are trying to change the legislation are usually so far removed from those on the ground actually sowing the crops that I would not trust their policies.
In my 'higher education' I encountered a lot of very bright people, yet I found that a low level understanding of what is going on in the world at large was slightly lacking. My question then, is how do we bridge this gap between a 'worldly education' and 'local thinking' as well as upper-level theory and ground-level understanding?

Ok, fine, I'll throw in one pretty picture:

Here's some sausages we made in the charcuterie class I just finished. There is spicy Italian, sweet Italian, jalapeno cheddar bratwurst, breakfast sausage, andouille and chorizo.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Striped Bass

For all of you who like to fish, this will probably be useful, but then again, if you fish, you probably already know how to prepare a fish. This is obviously cheaper than buying prepared filets as well, so if you can find whole fish, then I guess you can save some money.

Whole fish means fish right out of the water. Drawn = gutted, scaled, dressed = gutted, scaled and filleted, pan-dressed = gutted, scaled, filleted and skinned (i.e. ready for the pan).

Here we go.

You want to use a boning knife for this one. It is very thin with a good point.

Make an incision just up from the tail and cut up to right behind the lower jaw.

Then pull out all the guts. They should be really easy to get out; if you can't pull them out, you can cut them out.

Then grab the fin on the side, and make an incision angled forward down towards the spine. Cut halfway through the body.

Flip the fish over and do the same thing again, this time cutting through the spine.

This should separate the head from the rest of the body.

To cut a fillet off, start just up from the spine, and keep the knife against the spine, and move the knife towards the tail.

You don't want to cut through the rib bones, so keep your knife above the ribs.

When you get halfway to the tail, the ribs end, so cut through the rest of the body, and then cut all the way down to the tail.

Now separate the fillet from the ribs. Gently pull the meat away as you cut it away from the ribs.

And here's the fillet.

Do the same thing with the other side of the fish.

Here's the leftovers. You can make stock with everything but the head.

To skin the fillets, start near the tail, just through the flesh just to the skin.

Lay the knife flat, just above the skin. Then hold the skin near the tail and slide your knife gently the whole length of the fillet.

Do the same thing with the other side.

And there's the skin separated from the fillets.

Here's a good dish: Ginger miso crusted Striped Bass with Shiitake Mushroom Broth.