Goals: My goals for this week are to not get sick and not fall behind. This is still my main goal. This class is really pushing me, and I want to make it to the end. For me, a lot of it is about time management, and making sure I get enough sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, I can’t learn as well or perform as well in class, and I also feel bad. I’m also going to work on being faster and more organized.
Expectations: Next week is poultry, and I’m sure there will be lots of challenges with cooking it properly. Chef said he might be moving us around too, so I expect that will take some getting used to. It will be different working in a station with new people. I expect it to be another hard and tiring week.
Reflection of Experiences:
Thankfully, Friday was not a crazy day. We worked on vegetables, and I’ve cooked all the vegetables we worked on so that made it seem easier. The cooking methods were all new though, so it wasn’t that easy. Overall, my vegetables came out pretty well. My cauliflower was almost overcooked, which I realized as I was sloshing it in the ice bath; I noticed the stems bending a bit, and Chef pointed out how the florets start to separate when it’s almost overcooked. My carrots Vichy needed a little more reduction, and my spinach needed a little more salt. I think I should have caught the seasoning on the spinach, but I was rushing a bit. I need to pay more attention to seasoning next time. I was tired because I didn’t get to sleep as much, so I’m glad I made it through the day and through the vegetables.
On Tuesday, I felt really tired even though I slept a lot. I think I am on the verge of getting sick. I need to get through this week. Anyway, today we made ratatouille, which was a lot of work. There was a lot of prep since there are so many vegetables in it. We also went to the herb garden to gather fresh herbs. At first my mushrooms weren’t brown enough, so Chef said to re-sear them. They came out a nice dark brown after that. I made sure to sear the other vegetables well too. The rest of the recipe went pretty well, and it tasted pretty good. Afterwards we had to deconstruct a chicken. It took me 18 minutes. The chickens were not that cold, so it was harder to work with. I still don’t like deconstructing the thigh/drumstick part. It’s hard to get the meat off the bones in that area. Later, during cleanup, we finished really fast today. Maybe it’s because we moved stations?
Wednesday was a hard day. I had a lot of trouble with things. First, it took me three tries to truss a chicken. I finally got it the third time, but it was not easy. My main problem was not making the string tight enough. Next time I have to truss, I’m going to make it as tight as I can. Then, I overcooked my roast chicken to 190 degrees, so I think it came out a little dry. The one thing that went well was the pan gravy. It had good color, consistency, and flavor. My stock was not reduced enough. I should have put it back on the stove to reduce, but I was trying to get going on the rest of the chicken we had to cook, so I never got around to it. I also had some trouble with some of my breading. I think some of the flour came off in the egg wash so there were spots that weren’t breaded. I tried to bread those pieces again, but then the breading got a little soggy. Also, for some reason I had extra chicken. I don’t know where it came from. It’s as if my chicken had three breasts. Lastly, when I pan fried the chicken breast, one side was more brown than the other, so Chef said to do it again tomorrow. At least it was cooked, juicy, and well seasoned. I guess today I had an off day. I’m just glad I made it through the day without burning myself with oil or anything like that.
Thursday was actually a really good day. After a rough day on Wednesday, I went into Thursday a lot more focused and determined to finish the deep fried chicken, pan fried chicken, and sautéed chicken tenders before class. The night before I tried to plan out in my mind how to do this efficiently so I wouldn’t run out of time. Things pretty much went as I planned, and I was able to finish cooking the chicken before class. Overall, the chicken was cooked pretty well, except my pan fried breast was missing some breading because it was one of the pieces not breaded as well from yesterday. Chef said my chicken was seasoned well; it wasn’t very pleasant tasting the flour yesterday, but I guess it paid off! Then, we worked on grilling chicken and deconstructing duck. The deconstruction was pretty similar to chicken; I think I’m finally starting to have a better feel for deconstructing chicken and duck. My grilled chicken was the disappointment of the day; the grill marks were really weak. I needed to turn the heat up more. The flavor was not bad though. Then, the roasted duck thighs and pan seared duck breast both went pretty well; I got some nice color and skin crisping on both. Finally, we worked on steaming medium grain rice, brown rice, and wild rice. Those were pretty easy. Today is the first day I successfully multi-tasked, and as a result, had time to eat! The sweet taste of success – pan seared duck breast, grilled chicken, and some white rice. I think being more focused really made a difference – I was more organized, more efficient, planned my tasks better, and overall had better execution.
This week, Thursday was a very positive day. As I mentioned above, I did a better job of being organized and multi-tasking, so I cooked my chicken from Wednesday, got my food into the oven quicker, had more time to keep my area clean, and had time to actually eat. Even Kelly said, “Wow, today you are fast!” It felt good to be on top of things today and also to bounce back from a rough day on Wednesday.
The whole Wednesday was kind of humbling. Except for the pan gravy, I didn’t execute well on Wednesday, as I mentioned above. I haven’t been feeling that great this week, so maybe that’s why things didn’t go well today. I wasn’t on top of things today, my station got messy, and I had more trouble than usual. It felt like most things were a struggle, which isn’t how I normally feel. Also, it definitely felt like the clock was against me today. I have to try to be more focused and organized.
Of the things that I learned this week, I am best prepared to demonstrate to someone else? (list in bullet form)
-Pan Seared Duck Breast
-Roasted Duck Thighs
What feedback did I receive from my instructor and how did I use the information to improve my performance?
For the vegetables, Chef said my carrots Vichy needed about 20 seconds more reduction, so I put it back on the heat, and it came out better. Also, he said my spinach wasn’t seasoned enough so I went back, added salt, and tasted it again. I will try to pay more attention to reduction and seasoning this week.
For the ratatouille, Chef said to re-sear my mushrooms to get them browner. That was the first one we seared, so after I re-seared them, they turned out a lot better, and I paid more attention to getting really brown bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Properly seared vegetables are really important for this dish, so it was good that Chef pointed that out so I could correct it.
On Wednesday, things got crazy and my station was getting messy. Chef told me to have a pie tin for my utensils, which I should have known to do. I made sure to remember that on Thursday, and I’ll try not to forget again.