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Laboratory in the Culinary Arts: Day #4

By Jillian Bernardini - Oct 26, 2011 - 12:30 PM
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July 12th:  Braising and Stewing; Coq au Vin, Ratatouille, and Trout Almondine

Despite how calm and slow-paced “braising and stewing” sound as cooking activities, the multi-tasking and timing for tonight’s class was the most stressful time I have had thus far in the BU kitchen.  It was definitely exciting, but when you think that there is plenty of time to reduce your sauce and sauté additional vegetables, there are only five minutes left to plate!  I was very disappointed with my Coq au Vin sauce, which I allotted hardly any time for it to thicken or reduce.  It looked more like a soup than any form of glaze once I plated my chicken pieces.  I was happy with the flavor of the dish, which still had some form of vibrancy and a delicious, pork essence from the crispy lardons.  I will certainly attempt to recreate this at home, and perhaps incorporate a little more beurre manie to thicken the sauce properly and efficiently [equal combo of butter and flour, mixed]. 

Whether I am cooking alone, or with another individual, being efficient in the kitchen is something I must practice.  Using time wisely and planning ahead for what I may need will help for a successful cooking and learning experience, and less stress in the kitchen!  A perfect example of being prepped and ready was when we had to cook our Trout Almondine.  The fish cooked fast, and the sauce came together within a few minutes because you don’t want to over brown the almonds or the butter.  Almondine sauce was so flavorful and easy to make, and I plan to try this on other fish at home. 

Another delicious and healthful dish was the ratatouille.  Any recipe that consists of a great variety of vegetables blended with some tomato sauce makes me a happy individual.  By stewing the eggplant, zucchini, and peppers together with crushed tomatoes, the ratatouille developed a beautiful caramelization in the pot.  I had always assumed that roasting the vegetables in the oven was the only way to achieve such depth of color.  However, with the occasional stir to prevent sticking, stewing the ratatouille on the stove until the tomato juices were absorbed had created a delicious and palatable vegetable medley. 

Once it was time to plate all of our dishes, my nerves got the better of me.  I rushed my coq au vin sauce when it wasn’t ready.  I know now that I just need to take a deep breath, assess what needs to be done, and go ahead with a calm sense of mind.  That will make me more successful in the kitchen and result in consistently tasty dishes.  At least my pearl onions and mushrooms had lots of flavor and a great caramelized color to them.  Hopefully, I will be more efficient and productive in our next class: eggs!

Thanks again for reading!  I'll put up more recipes soon, but I'll leave you with photo I took of a picturesque brownstone that truly embodies Boston this time of year.  Come up and visit, ciao!




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