Thursdays are my longest day of the week. I begin at eight a.m. with a five hour lab, take a one hour break, then continue with another five hour class. At the beginning of the semester it seemed like a long day, but my feet have gotten used to the 10 hours and always more of standing so now I am able to concentrate the entire class.
For the morning lab we were required to make two recipes, stuffed quail and duck tournedo. Now for these classes it is not that the items are prepared for us and we follow step-by-step procedures. For our culinary training we were last week required to debone a duck, and this week to do the same on quail.
I would have taken pictures of the entire procedure but we had limited time and messy hands so I decide against it. To start off, quail are itty bitty. I mean really itty bitty, one fit comfortably in the palm of my hand. Anyways, to get the quail in the shape we needed we were required to cut along the spine then try and work our knife along the rib cage and between the shoulder blades. I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to do and have to admit my first attempt looked horrendous. For it to be finished correctly the ribs, wish bone and spine need to be removed, along with the thigh bone. What you need to have left is the skin intact, the wings, just the leg bones of the bird and the meat.
It looked strange when we finally finished up, but the whole thing worked out when we added the ball of wild rice and sweet potato stuffing to the centre and worked the bird into shape, using a cut in the thigh of the bird to cross its legs and tucking the wings underneath. To finish it up we wrapped the little guy in bacon.
Then there was the duck. Since last week was the hard part, this week was quite simple. After making the delicious smelling stuffing which included orange zest, scallops and savoury, we laid out the duck breast on strips of bacon, smoothed on stuffing, wrapped it into a tight cylinder with cellophane and tin foil, then vacuum sealed it. When we were sure it was sealed properly we added it to the immersion cooker to cook in the sous vide way. Which basically means it is in water and will constantly cook at the required temperature until done.
Once the duck was done we quickly browned it so the bacon was nice and crispy and served them up be sold in our school store, The Pantry.
The second class to my day is basically mass production. It is to help teach us how to make something hundreds of times but have them all come out identical. It takes some work but I think we are all starting to catch on.
For class this day our goal was to produce wine jelly, apple crisp, bread, curry pastry, and soup. My group was assigned wine jelly which also included bottling vinegar that had been made earlier. For our recipe we needed 4 bottles of wine, 10 lbs. of sugar and just a small amount of lemon juice and of course pectin. After combining it all, quickly sanitizing the bottles and warming the lids, we only ended up with 42 small jars. I was a little surprised since we all expected quite a few more.
Next was the vinegar. Again we sanitized, but this time we needed the vinegar to come to a boil and for capping we used a plastic sealing method that had a perforated edge for the customer to know it had not been tampered with. My assigned duty was pouring the vinegar into the bottle and wow did it stink.
The first bottle was fine. I poured it into the funnel until it reached the desired height, then passed it on to the next member who would add the cap. Within seconds after moving the bottle the vinegar smell hit me. It was horrendous. The odour burned my throat and had me choke with surprise. And that’s how most of filling the bottles would go. Pour, move, wiggle nose, repeat.
Our duty has been a very quick one, so once we finished up we headed over to another table who were making apple crisp. We’d helped out occasionally earlier with peeling some of their 48 kgs. of apples, but by now they had moved over to cooking apple slices and reducing the crumble to a powder.
To help out I ended up making a cornstarch slurry and adding it to the pile of cooking apple slices. Afterwards we stirred the mixture until the liquid turned clear and was ready to be pulled out of the cooker so we could begin scaling it in take-out containers. It had to be the most delicious smelling job in the room. Standing next to a bucket of cinnamon scented apples while weighing out the product which then would have crumble added on top. By the end of the job they had enough crisps that everyone in class got to take one home, and they still had 45-50 left to sell.
When class was finished we got to take home what everyone’s groups had made, except ours since the jelly and vinegar was heading straight for selling. As I left class I had bags of bread, pastries, an apple crisp, the containers of quail and duck that I had stuck in the fridge to keep cold and everything else I had brought to complete the lab. So coming into the hall I was more than happy to see my husband waiting for me, or as I happily called him, my extra pair of hands.