Culinary Boot Camp Day 3
A Week of Learning the Culinary Basics
A Week of Learning the Culinary Basics
Hi folks, well day three has come and gone on my Culinary Boot Camp adventure here at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. It was a beautiful day here is Napa however it was very hot. When I say hot I mean hot the high today was 101 °F. Which meant a very warm kitchen, I think i saw the water cooler get switched out 3 times while I was in the kitchen this afternoon/evening.
By now you have probably figured out our typical day here at bootcamp but I realized that never really went over what it looks like in a concise manner. So no time like the present.
The day starts with an hour or so lecture that ends with a menu/production review for the day. After that we get a short break meaning drink a few glasses of water because your too busy to drink water for the next few hours! After break we assemble in the kitchen to watch Chef do a demo or two. After that we are off to our stations to do the production for the day. When production is done we plate everything and sit down to eat what we made as dinner. After dinner we gather again to review the dishes we made and final thoughts for the day. Then off to the B&B for bedtime becuase I'm exhausted!
Todays lecture was a bit on the shorter side because we had so much to do in the kitchen this afternoon. Our lectures have been a bit wonky because we found out today that Chef has been giving us lectures from the old curriculum meaning that what we get in lecture is the skills for next day. Suddenly it makes a lot more sense why what he’s talking about is not matching up with whats in the book we got oh well. Todays lecture was on grilling, broiling and roasting which means we get to grill tomorrow super excited about that!
Today Chef didn’t demo any new knife cuts he did however demo making mayonnaise from scratch as well as talked about the different types of pans. I have never made or had homemade mayonnaise. This is something I will defiantly be trying when I get home it was so much more flavorful then what you buy at the store!
Chef Demoing how to make mayonnaise
A demo talking about the differnt types of pans and what they are used for
Going along with chicken theme team one seems to have today we were responsible for Buttermilk Chicken with Country Gravy, Whipped Potatoes, Coleslaw, Mayonnaise and Mac & Cheese. Being that I had made the majority of what we were assigned before I decided to strengthen my skills and volunteered to do the fried chicken.
When I volunteered to do this I didn’t realize what I had volunteered for. Now the recipe called for making 2 1/2 chickens. So I started in on cutting up the 2 1/2 chickens into the 10 piece assortment that we were taught yesterday. Well Chef stopped by and asked while looking into the box of chickens
“how many chickens are you going to do?”
I replied with “the recipe calls for two and half. So I was thinking two and half.”
he said “ok how about you do the whole box.”
Well the box had six whole chickens in it. That is a lot of chicken. I mean a lot of chicken. So I spent the entire day working on the fried chicken. Which although was a lot of work I got in some good time practicing new skills.
Cutting up the chickens into the 10 piece assortment (2 wings with the tips removed, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 breasts each cut in half) took me a while. While I was cutting up the chicken my hat keep sliding around and ended up sliding right off my head and into the raw chicken. So I had to get a new hat. After I got all the chickies cut up into I put them in a marinade of buttermilk, dijon mustard, and tarragon. I have never used tarragon before so that was fun to get to use that. Then they all went into the fridge for about a half hour.
While the chicken was marinating I worked on prepping the dredging flour for the chicken as well as the ingredients needed for the Country Gravy. By the time I was done with that it I needed it was time to get the chicken out and start the dredging process on my 60 pieces of chicken.
My Mise en Place for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken
I set up a nice working order of the chicken in the marinade (which becomes my liquid for making the breading stick) then a hotel pan with the flour mixture (flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and old bay seasoning) then a empty hotel pan for holding the breaded pieces. After getting all the pieces thru this process they all went back in the fridge. This helps the breading adhere to the meat better so it doesn’t fall off. By this time it was already ten to 6 and dinner needed to be severed at 7:15 so luckly one of my team members Joy took over cooking the Country Gravy with the ingredients I had prepped.
So back to my chickies I needed to do another round of dredging in the liquid and flour mixture before I could fry them. Yes I got use a deep fryer it was pretty cool. So on I went again dipping and coating my 60 pieces of chicken.
Second round on the breading for these beauties
I was very happy to have that part done and be able to wash all the flour off my hands. Next up was frying these beauties up in the deep fryer. So over to the fryer I went with my 2 pans of nicely coated chicken. I have never used a deep fryer before and this isn’t you counter top device they sell at Target. This was a legit fryer, the whole ball and wax complete with fry baskets. I was pretty excited. So I put a few pieces into the basket and then lowered the basket into the oil giving it a couple of taps keeping the chicken from frying to the basket. This is the moment that it started to smell really really good. I felt like I was at the state fair with the smell of deep fried food and well the heat was about right too. After getting all of the pieces nicely browned and crispy in the fryers we finished them off in a 350°F oven for about 10 mins until they were cooked throughly. Then they went into a holding over set to 150°F to stay warm until it was time for plating.
Filling up all the baskets with chicken
Waiting for the chicken to be done so I can move it to the baking sheets and into the oven
The final product!
I couldn’t stop laughing when I plated up all the chicken. I have never seen so much fried chicken in my life! Joy, my teammate turned to me and asked do you think we made enough chicken? LOL well completely to my surprise there was only 3 pieces left when we gathered back around the island after dinner! I guess after my class went thru there was a rush of students whom gobbled up the rest. I got good remarks about my chicken - not to shabby for a first time. However next time I make fried chicken I think I’ll stick with one maybe two chickens not six.
Our spread for the evening
It was long, hot day but totally worth it. After cutting up all those chickens I feel a lot more comfortable with being able to confidently cut one up. I think I may even start buying whole chickens from now on. The drive home was beautiful with the sun setting and having all the windows down with the cooler breeze blowing in. It was so nice after hours in the hot kitchen. Looking forward to what tomorrow brings. The Chef that has been teaching us in-so-far has to leave for the week so we get a new Chef tomorrow and I'm thinking some grilled steak :)