Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Knives and Fire X (Week 3)

Brown Stock and Alternative Sauces

First we discussed costing using the Book of Yields. A chef has to be aware of how much food costs per unit - both as purchased and in edible portions, and to balance the cost savings of buying less processed foods with the price of labor and waste (although, in a good professional kitchen, nothing is wasted.)

Then we continued in our discussion of sanitation in professional kitchens. To be precise, we talked about the foodbourne diseases that can be prevented with proper hygiene (hepatitis A and norovirus), the ones that can be controlled by proper time and temperature control (bacterial), and the ones that can only be managed by using trustworthy suppliers (many seafood toxins - can't be detected, can't be cooked out, and can cause death, paralysis or amnesia (and how scary is that last?) Of course, those last are also mostly in shellfish, so that's just not a factor for me. We had a side discussion of trustworthy suppliers - people who have been in business a long time, people who state in writing that their deliverers follow HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) requirements - meaning they deal with food safety issues before they become issues. Some companies also report the temperature of the truck at both loading and delivery, so you know they pay attention.

We also discussed sauces again - how to thicken with a starch slurry (cornstarch/arrowroot/potato starch and cold liquid, added to boiling liquid) and how to use a beurre manie (flour and butter kneaded together and added at the last minute), plus monter au beurre (swirling in butter in the last minute) and making a liaison between cream and eggs.

Then we discussed alternative sauces - particularly salsas (raw sauces of chopped fruits and/or veg), chutneys (cooked sweet and sour sauces) and relishes (also cooked or pickled.)

From there, we moved to brown stock. Brown stock is basically the same as white - bones, mirepoix, aromatics and water, but the method is a little different. First, the beef or veal bones are caramelized - placed in pans in a 350°F oven until mostly done. Then they're spread with tomato paste and put back in the oven (although we do drain the fat first.) And when that's very brown, we put the bones in the stock pot, and deglaze the pans with water, which is then added to the stock pot. The bones are replaced with the mirepoix (normal mirepoix plus leeks), which is also browned in the oven. Meanwhile, the stock is brought to boil and down to a simmer, and skimmed. The browned vegetables are then added to the pot with the sachets (I made the sachets - bay leaves, thyme and crushed peppercorns) and the pans deglazed again. And then it's simmered for 6-10 hours.

Meanwhile, there were other things to do. First thing - we made a mango salsa. This used ripe mangos (sliced into thin 1/4" squares), finely diced red pepper and red onion and jalapeño pepper, vinegar, honey, lime juice, olive oil and cumin. I worked with G, but I just did the mango because cutting those thin little slices took forever. It didn't help that my knife could have been sharper and the ripe mango was slippery. We mixed it all together and it was delicious. It would be so yummy on fish or chicken. At which point, we went to lunch.

When we got back, we had a lecture on kashrut. In this case, it was mashgichim. The mashgiach is the person the supervisory agency puts in the kitchen to assure that everything adheres to halacha - not just the food and cooking methods, but anything that goes on in terms of food and service, like bug removal and the turning on of flames and the kashering of equipment.

The rabbi talked about both catering and restaurants, but the main thing was communication between chef and mashgiach, plus recognition that you have the same goal - to serve a quality kosher meal.

In catering, there's a lot more control. You know what you're serving and when and where. You can tell your
mashgiach what the menus are and when you're serving. In restaurants, it's far less predictable because the meals aren't set and you never know when you'll run out of checked vegetables.

Then we moved onto catering for Shabbat - time constraints, equipment constraints, halachic concerns about ovens and lights and even maybe an eruv (so one can carry from refrigerated truck to hotel if they don't have fridge room) - even serving dairy breakfast while prepping fleishig lunch. One hint - hire all non-Jewish staff on Shabbat to minimize problems. And make sure to make tea essence and get rid of all peppermills - even for decoration.

And keep the number of the supervisory organization at hand so they can mediate between you and the mashgiach (not possible on Shabbat, of course.)

He did NOT discuss Pesach because that's a major issue all by itself.

Then the rabbi left and we got back to cooking. While part of the class dealt with the stock and part prepped a mango chutney to be cooked tomorrow (I peeled two), some of us got our knives sharpened. I watched chef as he sharpened mine - he actually removed stone as he moved the knife forward over it. This is what's supposed to happen.

And then we helped clean up. Long day, but productive.
Tags: knives and fire

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