Life Outside My Cube

My life, a work in progress.

Cooking Class, Week 3

We arrived 15min late (wanted to be there at 6pm instead of 6:30, as Chef was going to prep the bones for beef stock), just as the bones were coming out the oven. Turns out he browned some veg as well – blackened, more like it, but I don’t know how you’d have prevented it at 450deg. Two others were chopping up onions – mostly for the onion soup, and skins and ends for the stock. Again, he seems to be ok with building the stock with imperfect ingredients. I strongly disagree with this.

Stock pot on the stove, filled with water to about 4″ over the bones and veg. More water than we added for veg or chicken stock, it seemed. Anyhow, it colored nicely very quickly, with much flavor.

There were three dishes to make – onion soup, beef stroganoff and a remoulade. There wasn’t a lot to do prep-wise, and there were a lot of people (9 of us, usually), so I chose to hang back and just observe. It was very crowded, as most of the work was going on at the stove, and there just wasn’t enough room around it for everyone to observe.

Top round got cubed and dredged, then cooked in oil in a large sautoir. A brown roux was made into a sauce and left to cool. Rough chopped onions were added when the meat was done. When cooked, the pan was deglazed with beef stock, thickened with the brown sauce, and a tub of sour cream added. Worcestershire and seasoning were involved. Egg noodles were also cooked. Nothing special there, just a note: let the meat cook! Don’t keep stirring it around!

Nancy sweated the pot of onions in a lot of butter, then Chef added half and half beef stock and leftover chicken stock from last week. Worcestershire and seasoning was added. Simple.

We made a remoulade – new flavor for all of us – which turned out pretty nice, though we were missing chervil, chives and anchovies, and it was blended, not stirred. Most said it reminded them of a tartar sauce; indeed, it’s kind of a french tartar sauce originally intended for meats. We sampled it over noodles.

The stroganoff was superb; best I’ve had in a long time. Absolutely wonderful, rich flavorful sauce. I think the best dish so far.

The onion soup was disappointing; I think the chicken stock weakened it, and worcestershire was the dominant flavor, not onions. Nancy thought it was bitter.

The remoulade was excellent over noodles, and because of the chopped dill pickle, I immediately thought fish. Chef said it would probably go well with chicken or beef too.

A couple takeaways this week. First, dredging the beef cubes in flour added a great flavor component to the strogranoff, in addition to the fond. I wonder if that should be a standard practice when browning meats.

Second, remoulade! Not only does it sound pretty cool, it tastes great – an excellent variation on dumb old tartar sauce, and I will definitely make it the next time we cook fish. Mmm… capers!

Chef missed a big opportunity to explain emulsions last night, since the remoulade is mayonnaise based. He did have someone make a brown sauce with a corn starch slurry- just for comparison with the roux brown sauce. Still, I was a bit surprised he didn’t elaborate at all. He’s quite comfortable just standing there, or talking about traffic in Cincinnati or his favorite steak restaurant. I’ve been regularly disappointed that he is not working harder to share his knowledge during class. I think most all of us would be interested in more.


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