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Everything posted by Qwerty

  1. Qwerty

    About roux

    The ratio shouldn't matter just pre make the roux and add room temp to simmering liquid until desired thickness
  2. They are also good sauteed--they brown nicely and puff up a bit as well.
  3. I think that peeling beets before hand is a waste of time....the jackets, in my opinion, help the beets maintain a more "beet-ie" flavor than peeling before hand--not to mention that the jackets just slip right off once roasted and are 100x easier to peel.
  4. Qwerty

    About roux

    You can also make a large batch of roux ahead of time, cool it to room temp, then add a bit at a time to your soup (when it reaches a simmer) until desired thickness is reached. This is a really handy way to use roux, and it will keep for a long time in the fridge or even at room temp. A general rule of thumb, IIRC, is that a pound of roux will thicken a gallon of liquid to nappe.
  5. Steel, meat fork, palate knife, microplane, tweezers, cake testers...I dunno what else.
  6. Nice work man--from the looks of it this may turn out to be a big hit.
  7. Qwerty

    Restaurant grilling.

    How do you determine the doneness of the meat currently? I stick a cake tester in the center of the meat and feel it against the underside of my lower lip--how hot the poker is tells me how done the meat is. Touching is OK and I rely on that as well, but it is also a bit unreliable to me, i.e. too many variables. The cut of meat, size, thickness, type (pork vs. beef, etc) all have different "feels." I don't think that cutting away or towards yourself matters, as long as the slice is nice and even and you have a sharp knife. Just make sure you aren't cutting towards any fingers or hands and you should be fine.
  8. Oh man who cares? It's not going to result in a declination of service....if anything, the level of service will go up because it will attract a higher caliber server. To all you people crying that it will make the service go down I mean, really, how much worse can it get? It may even begin to professionalize the industry to a point where waiting tables can be seen as more than just a job you do in college. Being a server is not really hard work. The job is easy and relatively low stress (at least, I never took it home with me, which is worth a lot). The hard part comes in from having to suck shit and smile at loathsome people. You have to swallow a lot of pride because, quite frankly, a lot of customers are complete dicks and/or for whatever reason feel it is OK to take it out their bad days on their servers. If you can afford/don't want to pay a mandatory service charge, then don't patronize the restaurant. Plain and simple. It will either work itself out and the place will close because no one ate there or you will have saved like 5 dollars on your meal. And about raising prices...it would be hard to pull off. Most people don't take into account the service charges (tip, mandatory, whatever) when they look at prices of restaurants--they just don't. A place that charges, say, 10-15 dollars more a plate than the competition (even if tipping is included in the entree price) will most likely be seen as being a lot more expensive, even though in reality it is the same or cheaper.
  9. I never said only one or two tickets fired, I said one or two tickets on pickup at a time, that is a huge difference. Please read more carefully next time. Doodad, it really depends on a number of factors for the sides and garnishes. In some kitchens, damn near EVERYTHING is done to order. Veg are cooked to order, purees, etc. You might find this type of thing in a Michelin 3 star, but probably not in most places, even the high end ones. There is probably a big bain of potato puree being dipped into throughout the night--a pot at a time taken out, heated, adjusted, etc. Veg are probably par cooked. Sauces are made ahead of time (unless it is a pan sauce, but even then its taken as far as it can go before deglazing). Some places do a combo of the above--they may roast or glaze veg to order, but don't make potato puree to order, for example. Things like roasted peppers are going to be done ahead of time. Some kitchens have dedicated side cooks (these guys are referred to entremetiers--and I may have spelled that wrong) that do everything but cook the protein. Some kitchens the guy who is cooking the item also does the sides and garnish. It depends on the style of food, the kitchen layout, the size, and a number of other factors. There is no clearcut, right-or-wrong answer. No matter how good a kitchen crew you have, there is a limit on the number of dinners they can push out during a given time. This is why the dining room is usually sat (ideally) in stages. The max limit just depends on too many things, but if the entire dining room is sat within 10 minutes, you can bet the kitchen is going to be in the shit. What you want to have is a steady stream of orders.
  10. In most kitchens (at least the ones I've worked in) the protein (not fish, meat) is cooked immediately upon the chit coming into the kitchen. This is done because usually proteins cook the longest and it will give the meat a chance to rest properly. Usually the fish guy will pull the fish out of the lowboy on the order call so that a) it tempers and b) he knows what he has ordered all day. Once the ticket is fired, (expo will say something like "Fire halibut, strip, short rib, and ravioli) this means that the fish will be cooked (with very few exceptions, fish does not need to rest and is at it's best right out of the pan) and so will any garnishes. The fish guy will call the ticket, so when the fish is about to be plated he will say something like "pickup halibut" and then everyone will know to finish whatever they are cooking for the ticket and take it to the pass. So the meat guy will plate his steak and his braise, the pasta guy will plate his pasta, and the fish guy will plate his fish. This is referred to the "order, fire, pickup" system and is generally used in most kitchens, at least most "higher end" pro-kitchens. You will probably have many things on order and many things on fire. Generally, you will only have 1 ticket on pick-up at a time, though sometimes you will have 2 tickets. Sometimes you will hear a "right in" call, which means: "pick up this ticket, then immediately after pick up this one." I don't know if I am explaining it properly, but I'll try to sum up: --The meat protein is cooked on the order call (generally with few exceptions) --The fish is pulled out of the cooler on the order call --Garnishes/sides are pre cooked, pulled out of the lowboy, or made ready to fire on the order call (generally) --When first courses have gone out, and the table is cleared or about to be cleared, the ticket is fired (this is sometimes done at the expediters discretion, sometimes it is up to the servers to fire tickets...depends on the kitchen) --On the fire call, the fish goes down, the sides/garnishes go down, the braises go into the oven, etc. --When the fish is almost ready to plate, the fish guy calls out "pickup" and then the expo will read out the ticket. This means get the food to the pass. Hope this helps.
  11. I'm sorry but that is plain wrong. The proteins of meat coagulate well below boiling. You mean to tell me that a well done piece of beef, at say, 180F isn't fully coagulated? Proteins (even in beef) begin to coagulate at about 120F farenheit (I'm too lazy to go look up the actual number right now). The issue here isn't protein coagulation but collagen breaking down into gelatin. IIRC, collagen begins to break down to gelatin at about 150F (again, too lazy to go look it up in McGee). The process though can take several hours--the reason for long, slow braises. When you cook a braise or slow roasted dish, there are several stages that the meat goes through. Essentially, you are going to overcook your meat. All braised dishes are dry and stringy. The actual protein in the meat will seize up, squeeze out most of its liquid (thats one of the reasons braises are so good is because the jus has been flavored with all of the juice from inside the meat) and become touch and chewy. In time, however, the collagen that binds the muscle tissues together will begin to break down and, in essence, release it's stranglehold on the meat, resulting in a fork tender product. The gelatin also creates a sort of unctuous mouthfeel that aids in the illusion of moistness in the meat (when in fact there is very little left--at least compared to when it started). The searing is strictly for flavor--and recommended. I would guess that you didn't cook the meat long enough. Meat varies, the amount of connective tissue, varies, and recipes are just guidelines...trust your senses.
  12. Um, you cooked a whole duck? Or just a duck breast? Why did you cook it on/with chicken legs? BTW, 375F isn't (at least IMO) "low." We're talking below 300. Anyways, sorry it didn't turn out but that is how you learn.
  13. The idea that a stock should have an extremely strong flavor is not quite true. What a stock should have is a fairly neutral flavor and a great deal of body. The idea is that the stock is flavored by whatever you add to it later on--meat trimmings, game bones, wine, aromatics, etc... A broth is a little bit different...a broth is really made with meat and/or meat trimmings and is meant to be very flavorful. If you are making a chicken soup, for example, you want a broth or a broth/stock hybrid. The broth/stock hybrid is really what most home cooks make at home...usually because there is abundance of both at home. If you make your chicken "stock" with cut up chicken carcass, meat and all, you are really making a broth/stock. I'm not implying that there is something wrong with this, not at all, but just keep in mind that a true stock isn't supposed to taste strongly of animal meat.
  14. No, they are not poisonous just disgusting. What possibly could curing do to fix poison?
  15. Qwerty

    Braised meat

    Well, I wouldn't cook down the wine too much, just enough to cook the raw alcohol smell off of it. If you were to add aromats to the wine, I would just discard after marination and use fresh ones for the actual braise. If I were going to add veg. to my marinade, I would sweat them down all the way, add the wine, cook off alcohol, cool, then add the meat and refrigerate for 24 hours. Then I would strain the marinade and use fresh aromats at the end of the braise. Good luck, let us know if this helps and you notice a difference.
  16. Qwerty

    Braised meat

    Well, the best options are to marinade the meat for about 24 hours, and allow the meat to rest in the liquid, as stated. In truth, it's not really the liquid that flavors the meat, its more like the meat flavors the liquid. You have to remember that when you cook something (esp. a braise) liquid leaves the meat--cooked protein always looses moisture, whether its steamed, boiled, grilled, etc. When the meat rests in the jus, it will absorb a bit of the liquid, but not, like, a TON. The reason you add all the aromats to the braise is for the jus, not for the meat. Also, keep in mind that it IS possible to overcook a braised dish. You said the texture is correct, so I would think your best bet is to make the jus more flavorful. The above suggestions for adding herbs in the late stages, cooking on the bone, etc, are good suggestions, but those will only improve the sauce, not the meat itself. Think about it in practical terms--how is a piece of meat going to "absorb" liquid as it cooks? Really think about it. Probably won't happen. One thing I always tell people when making stocks and braises is to add the aromatics only in the last hour or so of cooking. The comparison is this--when you make a veg. stock, how long do you simmer the veg? 45 minutes to an hour. And you do this because, any longer, and the stock will take on a muddy, overcooked vegtal aroma and flavour that is very unappealing. So why would you cook aromats in your braises and stocks for any longer? I say add the herbs and veg in the last hour. This won't help with the meat problems, but it will help the jus taste better and be more fragrant. As stated above, your best two punch combo is a marination for at least 24 hours (make sure to cook off the alcohol of any wine based marinades before submerging the meat), and allowing the meat the cool down in the liquid (which may allow it to retain and/or gain some of the liquid).
  17. I don't think the use of egg whites to clarify a stock was in question, it was the use of WHIPPED egg whites to clarify that was unusual. Personally I've never seen it done before the show, and I don't know what the benefits might be versus traditional raft.
  18. There is actually a school of thought that says you should leave the fat in the sauce and boil the hell out of it to emulsify it into the sauce. You'd typically find that in, at least I'm imagining, old school French cooking. The reason you don't want the fat in the sauce is mainly an aesthetic one--though there is a certain amount of greasy mouth feel as well (but when properly emulsified it shouldn't feel greasy on the palate). I've heard of chefs who actually allow the sauces to chill completely, scrape the fat layer off the top, then, when serving, whisk in the fat like we would normally mount with butter. The idea is that the animal/sauce fat has a lot of flavor associated with it and can be used to help thicken and fortify the sauce. It won't give you a clean, vibrant, crystal sauce, but if flavor is paramount and we aren't working at Ducasse or The French Laundry (or whatever) it's not actually a bad technique. You can also boil the hell out of your sauces and jus to create the fence emulsion...works best for a la minute cooking as the fat will seperate out eventually. But I assure you it is a real technique. Butter is a unique fat for cooking. The reasons you whisk in a small amount at the end of a sauce are many--richness, smoothness, sheen, thickness and balance. Cold butter swirled in to a sauce will not break, and in fact, will stay emulsified. This allows the butter to give it's essence without a "greasy" feeling, more of a luxurious richness. Of course, if will eventually seperate out, which is why it is almost exclusively done at the end right before plating. And yes, melting butter into water is a common technique. It's called buerre monte or buerre fondue, and is essentially melted butter that is kept in its emulsified state. Think of a classic buerre blanc sauce but with only water. It must be held at a warm temp. in order not to break. It si useful both as a gentle cooking medium (i.e. butter poached), an enricher (added as is to sauces or whatever) or to enrich garnishes and the like, not to mention as a sauce. Very useful.
  19. Start it in a cold pan and leave it on low heat. Once most of the fat has rendered out you can turn the heat up to get nice color. Once the skin is a nice mahogany/brown color, you can flip and go into an oven. Any pan should work just fine--nonstick might be the best for your first time. The probable reason why your duck breast was dry was because you over cooked it. A duck breast should be quite juicy, and the added fat should also give a nice viscosity in the mouth. It's also a good idea to let it rest in a warm place for about 5-10 mins to let the internal juices of the meat rest stay inside.
  20. I wouldn't braise the hanger steak...it's pretty tender already and makes a nice flavorful steak. Sometimes has a few hints of a kidney type flavor, but I don't really mind and I think most people won't even notice. There is only one per animal and I often have a hard time finding them for home use.
  21. Yeah it's really important not to overcook duck breasts...anything past medium should not be considered. Duck is very versatile...asian preparations are a natural, but so are just a simple pan roast with a fruity/acidic sauce. The simplest way to make a delicious duck sauce is to mascerate some fruit overnight, then cook the fruit, sugar and juices in a pan (with some vinegar and some additional seasonings if desired) until the fruit begins to break down and the sauce is syrupy. Duck is a very rich, fatty meat so it helps to have a sweet/tart sauce to balance. Make sure that you save all the fat that renders from the duck breasts...it makes a great cooking fat for just about anything. I would score the duck skin (as you did) and render the fat out on a LOW pan for a while...until about half of it is gone, and draining the fat as you go. Then cook anyway you wish...but I prefer pan roasting. Get god color on the skin side then slide into an oven.
  22. The implication that it is somehow lazy or incorrect to not use clarified butter is wrong. Careme's method was to use whole butter whisked into the warm eggs. Escoffier's method was either clarified or whole butter. Whether or not a reduced stock should be called demi glace is another discussion, but the whole butter (either melted or or cold) is a classical method. I looked it up in McGee by the way.
  23. Thats because the solids also hold the water for the butter. You have to be careful how much of them you add or how much lemon juice/water you add. When you add the solids you aren't really adding fat (which thickens the emulsion). But you are right, that is exactly what happens. If it gets too thin you can always ladle in a little more of the butter fat.
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