Culinary School Here I Come (53) Artisan Breads, Curing & Smoking and Lame Students


I was in an odd mood today. Everything seemed to bother me. Starting with the workers at the schools mail room. You would think that I could drop off a letter at the mail room. I asked the first attendant, she didn’t know, she asked another person (who was combing through her split ends and cutting them off) who didn’t know either. They asked a third person who briefly looked at it and said “No”. In the meantime I had rolled my eyes, and was beginning to shake my head. She told me, “Before you shake your head, let me tell you why. Your letter doesn’t have a return address.” Yes, it didn’t. I used a sticker. “This could be considered an untraceable terroristic note.” she continued. Little did she know that I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head because it took 3 idiots to determine that they couldn’t accept my letter.

Which let me to my first class of the day, Advanced Baking I. It must be nice to be a free living young adult, or immature (by another name). One guy was bouncing around the class on a sugar high, one person never seems to just hand you an item, it always has to be thrown and then you have the usual, I don’t really want to be here but I have to because my mommy says so. People, if you don’t want to be there, don’t be there. It is taking away from people like me who is genuinely interested in learning and doing what is taught. Ugh!

We are on our last week of bread making. There were a number of doughs ready for us to shape. We worked on baguettes, batards and boules. Shaping baguettes and boules were easy for me, batards, on the other hand was a bit harder. Once the dough was formed and proofed, we had to load it onto the peels, score them and load the oven. Again, in a school situation, you are lucky if you get to score 1 or 2 loaves and forget even trying to load the oven. There are always people eager to do everything.Baguettes, Batards, Boules and Loaves proofing.Baguettes getting loaded from the couche to the board.Seeded Baguette and Plain Baguette.Baguettes and Sourdough Boules.

Prep day for Class Act is always a disaster. New menu, new food prep, new stations. I try to stay out of their way and wait to get assigned a task. For me, I was assigned to make the Tomato soup. Easy enough. Roasted tomatoes, mire poix, vegetable stock, wine, tomato paste and seasonings.This week in Garde Manger class we were working on curing and smoking foods. We made some salmon gravlox cured the traditional way and we also cured some and cryovaced (is that how you spell it?) another one to smoke. We brined 2 whole chicken, we cut into pieces some ducks to make duck leg confit, we also brined some beef for corned beef and finally we cured some bacon. Tuesday was a busy day getting all those tasks done. Thursday was fun because we got to make some “ghetto smokers.” In the words of Chef Craig, “anyone can smoke in a real smoker.” I guess he wanted to show us how to be creative….and creative we were.

First, a little info on smoking. There are 2 different methods of smoking; hot and cold. Hot is when you smoke something directly over heat. With this method, you may be able to eat the product once the smoking process is done, depending if the product has been cooked. It can also be finished elsewhere. Then, there is the cold smoking method. This method imparts a smoked taste and does not cook the product at all. It does have to be finished elsewhere, unless it is cheese, fruit, vegetables or tofu! So, the product is not on any direct heat, however, you need heat to generate the smoke so hence, the “Ghetto Smoker.”For just $19.99 you get the smoking chamber, foil chimney and wood chip burning chamber. But wait, we’ll send you 2 Ghetto Smokers for the price of 1, you just pay the shipping and handling. I kid but it was an ingenious and very inexpensive way to begin to smoke. Your soaked wood chips are placed over the heat, the “chimney” connects the smoking chips to the smoking chamber and voila instant smoke. It was a fun day and we also got to carve some radish. Take a look at some of our handy work.

Just sitting here ready for the buffet line.

So I’ve located my wood chips and I’m ready to smoke some chicken and cheese for pizzas I’ll be making. Photos to come. Next week we will be discussing our bread sculpture in Advanced Baking I class and we move on to Sausage in Garde Manger.

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About tinfoilduck

I had this wacky idea to go to culinary school, while maintaining another full time career. I will be blogging about the program and how it affects me as I try to manage my daily life and how I try to keep everything together.
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2 Responses to Culinary School Here I Come (53) Artisan Breads, Curing & Smoking and Lame Students

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