We continued on our fabrication journey in school this week and put up a bunch of stocks. The first night was shellfish. We learned that shrimp shells are like gold for chefs because they make great stocks. Who knew? Now you do. So, don’t throw yours away when you have them. Make a stock! We cleaned, cut open and/or shucked mussles, clams, shrimp, Blue Point oysters, squid, bay scallops and, the most traumatic for me, lobsters. I’m still recovering from that one. I won’t go into details. However, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the incredible seafood bisque we made and ate at the end of class.
The next night was poultry. We learned how to take whole chickens and fabricate them into every cut imaginable. On the bone, off the bone, paillard, etc. We then move on to ducks. I love a good duck breast, don’t you? You don’t realize how much work it is to fabricate meat. At least I didn’t. We didn’t even have enough time to start the stocks until the next day! Although we did season some of the duck legs and thighs with a ton of shallots, salt and parsley, covered them with plastic and topped them with heavy, Le Crueset style dishes to cure them overnight and prepare them for a duck confit.
Our final night of the week, we started our chicken and duck stocks immediately and also melted all of the additional duck skin to create the fat to simmer our duck legs in for hours. If you are interested in making duck confit, I found a similar recipe for you here. We then moved on to beef fabrication. It was no joke. The cuts we were working with were nothing like the ones you get at the supermarket. They were in their raw state (no pun intended). Completely untouched other than to separate them by the section of the cattle they came from. Another night of major physical labor and I cut myself for the first time. Damn, those knives are sharp! I have a new found respect for my local butcher. It is a craft, for sure.
I wanted to give you a recipe for stock this week since it is such a basic essential in the kitchen and can be transformed into so many dishes. I guess you can say this is inspired by my week in culinary school but, it’s really one I’ve wanted to try for a while since visiting my friend Erica’s house and smelling it cooking in her kitchen. As always, I made her tell me all the details and got this stock recipe , one of her favorites from Kylie Kwong. It’s as simple as this:
- Chicken, cut up (I used fryer pack which included 4 legs and 2 breasts)
- Garlic, 10 cloves crushed
- 3 onions, cut in quarters (she recommends red but I used yellow bc that's what I had)
- 4 scallions, trimmed and cut in half
- 10 shards of ginger
- Water to cover it (by "3 fingers" as my instructor, Chef Sam would recommend)
- Rinse off chicken pieces and add to a large stockpot
- Bring to boil and then simmer on low for hours (I let it go for 6 hours)
- Skim off the top, as needed
- Pull out chicken, shred and discard bones (I added some kosher salt to the chicken at this point because we were nibbling on it)
- Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve, cool and store
Once I had the stock, I thought it would be nice to make a soup. I decided to use rice noodles to go with the asian theme. I cooked the rice noodles according to the package and then placed them in bowls. I then boiled the stock I made with 2 tablespoons of kikkoman gluten-free soy sauce, cut up mushrooms, red peppers, leeks, scallions and a generous amount of salt. After about 10 minutes, I added the chicken, a couple of pieces of giner and a little bit of cilantro. Once all set, I poured the soup over the rice noodles and sprinkled in a few drops of sriracha sauce for a kick.
I’ve also been craving lettuce wraps so, I washed some Bibb lettuce and prepared the same veggies (mushrooms, red peppers, scallions), added a minced clove of garlic, a bit of ginger and sautéed them in about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once softened, I added the remaining shredded chicken and a combination of brown sugar, kikkoman gluten-free soy sauce and rice vinegar to the pan. I then added a few pieces of cilantro and prepared a special sauce for the wraps, inspired by this recipe. I added it to mine, but not the kids’ because it was a little too spicy. Btw, my oldest, Jake, ate 5 of these and was declaring his love for them the whole time!
Apparently, lots to share today. What can I say? I’m inspired! I hope these recipes inspire you too!