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Diary: October 16, 2002

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I have a knife callous. It has been developing slowly over the time I’ve been in school, but I never noticed it until last Thursday while I was trailing. I noticed it then because it chose that time to break open and reveal the very pink skin underneath. It didn’t exactly hurt, but I could tell it would sting if I kept rubbing on it with the spine of my chef’s knife or if I stuck my hands in a bowl of tomato concasse, so I bandaged it. I had to take a little ribbing because of it (“One hour in a real kitchen and you cut yourself??”). I’m rather proud of it, and as it hardens up I’ve been admiring it a little. It doesn’t hurt at all now and it takes the pressure just fine, and it means my hands are really hardening up. I can also handle hot plates with minimal issue, and even if I touch something too hot I can usually handle it until it’s safe to put down (unless it’s really, really hot, in which case I usually know it will be that way before I touch it).

I still have not nailed down my externship. I have taken this week off from the hunt because our next tests are on Friday, and I need the time to study and prepare.

We made our first venison today. I have never eaten venison before, not even before I became a vegetarian. I am glad we waited so long to prepare it, because I am now somewhat acclimated to eating red meat and was not as sensitive to the gamier flavors in the venison as I would have been a few months ago. As it was, the venison we got at school was farm-raised and not particularly gamy. As Chef Peter said, it tasted like very red meat. I found it fairly easy to trim, and had no trouble tying it up. We dusted it with porcini dust, seared it, and finished it in the oven. We served it with a traditional sauce poivrade. I was a little sorry we didn’t make the grand veneur sauce we talked about, because I think red currant jelly would taste nice with the venison.

Since we went down to two-person teams, we have had shorter menus. A week and a half into the small teams, I have started to enjoy the extra work. I like that I feel in charge of lots of things and have no trouble getting it all done. Today I trimmed and cleaned the venison, cut all the mirepoix for the sauce (we made one big pot of sauce for everybody to share), made a spinach-ricotta ravioli filling, made alfredo sauce for the ravioli, and put together the parsnips we served with the venison.

The last twenty minutes before service are the best. Everybody crowds along the line to get everything cooked, and if you don’t have a rhythm then your plates won’t be ready at the time you need them. Today’s sequence: finish alfredo, strain alfredo, color blanched parsnips, season parsnips, roast parsnips in oven, season and dust venison, sear venison, finish venison in oven, reduce sauce, mount sauce with butter, remove parsnips and finish with butter and honey, rest venison, and plate everything up. My teammate Chris helped my out by finishing the parsnips, and he made the raviolis and the roulade we had for dessert. He brought out currant-rye bread he’d baked for eating with the meal.

I have noticed that my approach to preparing food is spilling over into my approach to other tasks. On laundry night, I automatically start my laundry right when I get home so it will be dry and folded before bedtime. When I shop for food, I attack the store in the most efficient way possible, and I load items onto the conveyor belt at the cashier stand in a specific order: cold items together, heavy items interspersed with lighter ones, fragile things like eggs and greens last. (The place where I shop, a natural foods co-op, is a bag-your-own type of place, and I bring my own bags.) I even take medications in the most efficient way possible, finishing up with an inhaled medication right before brushing my teeth. Days when I do these things out of order or offhandedly are almost always bad days; I don’t know if it’s because I’m out of sorts to begin with or if it’s because I approached the tasks unthinkingly (thereby putting myself in a bad mood).

Saddle of Venison with Sauce Poivrade

Venison bones

Peanut oil




Bay leaf

Red wine

Black pepper

Demi-glace or game stock


Sea salt and white pepper

Porcini dust


Color bones in peanut oil. Color mirepoix in peanut oil in separate pan. Add mirepoix to bones. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and red wine. Cook down. Add seasoning, demi-glace. Boil, skim, simmer, and strain. Season venison. Dredge in porcini dust and sear in peanut oil. Finish in oven. Mount sauce with butter and serve over venison.

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Great post. I'm a serious red meater, but I had never had venison until this March. At The Patriot in Toronto a venison Tbone was part of an interesting prix fixe.

I was amazed. It was tender, thick and incredibly meaty without being gamey. The sauce was Grand Veneur and you are right. The curranty thing was wonderful.

The section about how you have become more organized in your personal life was inspiring. Think I'll go fold some laundry!

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel


A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites


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I have a knife callous.


You go girl!

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I was so glad to read that you had a good experience with the venison. Mr. Dana is an avid hunter (already one this year with his bow) and we are always looking for new ways to prepare it. I will do some research and find a recipe for the Grand Veneur sauce. It sounds like it would be great with a roast tenderloin. Your posts are just the best. Thanks for the time you take to do this.

Stop Family Violence

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Oh, a grande veneur sauce is the poivrade sauce I posted a recipe for, with the addition of red currant jelly and heavy cream. It's traditionally served only with game. Basically, melt in the jelly when the poivrade is finished, and then add some cream and swirl the pan over the heat.

Varmint, I didn't get red currant jelly from your grandma...I think I got raspberry-blackberry jelly. Still haven't cracked it. Was there red currant jelly among the many jars? :blink:

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Hey, Dana? One of the questions on yesterday's test was about the difference in ingredients between a poivrade and a grande veneur sauce. If you hadn't asked about it, I probably wouldn't have remembered the cream. So, thanks for being a study help. :biggrin:

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