We’re trussing another chicken which is great for those of us who struggled in lesson 22. All eyes are fixed on Chef as he goes through it again. There’s frantic note taking, and sketching going on. We won’t know if our more detailed notes will make it easier until we are in the kitchen later but I’m glad I share space with Kimberley because of her ‘easy to follow’ diagram – take a look at it.
I’ve always had trouble resisting chicken skin. It’s the fat of course, that makes it so tasty and crispy. No such qualms at Le Cordon Bleu. You may have gathered that we use salt and butter liberally but we reach new heights today with barding. It’s laying freshly sliced pork fat on top of the breast of the chicken and tying it down, before roasting.
This is served with generous pieces of lardons, blanched and cooked in butter, button mushrooms, baby onions and a jus.
The other big challenge is creme caramel. I’ve made panna cotta, posset and creme brulee but creme caramel is a new experience for me.
It’s not as difficult as I thought, and they’re safely in the bain marie in the oven so I attend to the chicken. Insides clean, bum off, wishbone out, and needle at the ready. I make a start but still need Chef’s help towards the end. It’s not as tight as it should be but I don’t want to poke even more holes in it by doing it again. The pork fat is tied on, it’s seared and it’s in the oven. I get on with the garnish. It’s time to baste the chicken. It’s pale and insipid looking. It doesn’t look as if the cooking process has even started. I check the temperature of the oven. It had been set at 140 for the creme caramel which we decided to cook in the great National ovens at each end of the room. It means I’m not going to get the rich brown colour the chook needs, even if I do turn the temperature up high. There’s not much I can do about it but I will be a little late serving.
The rich creamy pudding delights are cooked and in the blast chiller. Others are plating theirs, and it’s not looking easy getting them out of the moulds intact. The blast chiller might have set the caramel too much. I get a bowl of warm water to sit mine in before turning out. It makes a difference but there’s still lots of sticky deliciousness left in the bottom of the ramekin.
Another day done and dusted. Even though my chicken wasn’t quite as neat a parcel as Chef’s I’m still happy with the result. And I’m so looking forward to lesson 24. We’re poaching pears in a light syrup and serving them with an orange glaze, and using fois gras and more puff pastry.