Today was our last day being taught by Chef Phil and it was just as much fun as ever. By now, we have reached the stage where banter flies back and forth all day between teacher and students, so when I ran out of ingredients and asked for help with a dish today, chef kindly donated some of his, but I was quick to point out that they weren't as nicely prepared as mine!
Most of the morning was dedicated to preparing an amazing lunch. Meanwhile, we were set separate tasks in groups and mine was to make veal stock. We roasted two huge veal knuckles until brown, turning halfway, then spread tomato puree and honey on them and roasted some more. These went into a pan and were covered with water while we browned a mirepoix (chunky cuts of carrot, onion, celery, leek and parsley stalks) in the oven. Once the water was simmering, we skimmed fat and impurities from the surface before adding the mirepoix to the pot and leaving it to 'talk to itself' all day, skimming the surface occasionally. At the end of the day, we allowed the stock to cool a little before straining it and storing it in the fridge.
Chef also demonstrated to us how to make a consommé with the venison stock we had made yesterday, by whisking egg white with finely chopped leek, carrot, celery and onion, a little tomato puree and herbs and stirring this into warm stock. The stock is brought to the simmer, stirring occassionally to ensure the egg does not stick to the bottom of the pan until the egg forms a 'cake' on top of the stock. At this point it is left there while the stock simmers for about 40 minutes so that the egg can absorb impurities from the stock, at which point it is passed through muslin. This can be served with finely chopped vegetables to make a broth, or a poached quails egg, or can have gelatin added to make a clear jelly to set in the base of a glass plate, or cut into cubes for a garnish.
Yesterday we had prepared and marinaded a loin of venison and today was eat day! Lunch had various components, as follows:
Pommes Anna - we placed a tatin tin in a hot pan, added a little oil and layered thinly-sliced potato discs in a circle before encouraging them to cook down in the pan. Once they had begun to sink in the pan and brown around the edges we added butter, seasoning and chopped thyme before repeating the process. Once the second layer looked to be browning around the edges we added even more butter, removed the tin from the pan, flipped the potato 'cake' and cooked it on the other side to brown to base. Once both sides were cooked the 'cake' was put on a baking tray ready to be reheated later.
Cabbage parcel - I have made a lovely pot-roasted partridge with chestnut, sage and sausagemeat-stuffed cabbage parcels a few times around Christmas, with great success, and as the recipe has disappeared from the interweb, you will have to trust me when I assure you of its deliciousness. Today's cabbage parcels were made by blanching cabbage leaves and using them as a wrapper for a stuffing of sautéed shallot, garlic, lardons and shredded cabbage. This was wrapped tightly in clingfilm into a ball and steamed for service.
Braised shallots - I peeled shallots and kept most of the root intact to prevent them from disintegrating before gently frying them in butter and oil, turning carefully once brown. When they had browned on both sides we added some of the venison stock from yesterday with a sprig of thyme and braised them further in the oven. Once they were tender we removed them from the pan and reduced the sauce a little to glaze them.
To serve with all of this we made a chocolate-infused jus by softening some finely chopped shallot and garlic before adding madiera and reducing this to a glaze. At this point we added venison stock and reduced it to a third of its volume before straining the sauce and further reducing it a little. We added seasoning to taste before a few Valrhona chocolate drops were melted into the sauce off the heat as well as a small knob of butter to add gloss and thicken.
The venison itself was seared on both sides before being wrapped in rolled puff pastry, trimmed to resemble a sausage roll, egg washed and baked at 200°C. Lunch today was one of my favourites yet on the course.
és. Earlier in the day we had made pastry cream, which you may recall from profiterole day a little while ago. We mixed a little of this with some of yesterday's praline, before folding into this egg whites that had been whisked to stiff peaks with caster sugar. This mixture was gently poured into ramekins that had been brushed with melted butter (in upward strokes to encourage the egg to rise) and dusted with caster sugar. The surface of the mixture was levelled with a palette knife before the edge of the ramekin was wiped clean and then a little groove was created between mix and ramekin edge with a thumbtip. This went into the oven for 10 minutes while they rose beautifully before we dusted with icing sugar and ate straight away! Mine needed a more decisive 'thumbtrick' as they were a bit shy to rise, and one of mine looked more like a muffin when it came out! Still, I started out today planning to be less afraid of soufflés, and now I certainly am.
Ready for another dessert-fest tomorrow, we made a chocolate mousse by melting dark chocolate and orange juice in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water before stirring in cocoa powder and when cooled, adding egg yolks and Cointreau. We folded lightly whipped cream into the chocolate mix, followed, very gently, by eggs we had whisked with caster sugar to glossy stiff peaks. This was piped into chef rings bottom-sealed with clingfilm and will be chilled overnight.
We also made glass biscuits by melting butter, sugar and glucose together in a pan until melted before stirring in sifted flour. We cooled this mixture for a while until hardened before placing flattened marble-sized blobs on a baking sheet. After baking for four minutes at 180°C we removed them from the oven and place a silicon mat on top before rolling them really flat and baking for a further four minutes. At this point we quickly shaped or cut them as they rapidly cooled, into curves, bowls, shards and strips ready to decorate our plates tomorrow. Check back to see how they look!