Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chickens hacked, with a bonus

The chicken hacking went well. Although I did learn that chicken hacking is bad - it's where you make a series of short cuts instead of long, smooth cuts, especially when you're boning out the breasts and tenders. Short cuts make for "fuzzy" chicken, something that doesn't feel as good in the mouth as smooth, silky breasts...

So, the chicken became Frenched mini-drumsticks from the first joint on the wings, made into teriyaki hot wings along with the second wing joint. I made teriyaki tenders, too because we were both hungry. The rest is brining - the breasts (supremes for Julia Child fans), thighs and drumsticks.

I somehow became the carcass collector, and took home more carcasses than would fit in my ice chest. They're in the oven roasting for stock. Looks like I'll have a nice, strong batch of nice chicken stock for French onion soup, pilaf, sauces...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken hacking

Tomorrow, we go hands on and dirty with poultry. Chicken is the biggest selling protein, across the board, all types of restaurants. Apparently this means burger joints, too. Why? It's cheap, easy to prepare and tastes good.

No serious chef could ever show his or her face in public without knowing how to completely prepare a chicken. In about five to seven minutes, the bird will go from a plucked, cleaned carcass to perfectly sliced breasts, tenders, thighs, drumsticks wings and oysters.

Yes, chickens not only have tenders (they're attached to the breast meat) but they have oysters, too. Not that you'd want to eat these particular oysters raw, unless you have a fondness for suffering from salmonella. They're the two little round things on the chicken's back, the best-tasting part of the entire bird. If I were Emperor, this is what I'd eat, and give the rest to the starving masses (of course, if I were Emperor, I wouldn't need to learn to cook, but that's another story).

There is very little waste at the end of the process. Some fatty bits, the tail and the tips of the wings. That's it. The carcass is used for stock, the breasts for fancy stuff, the tenders for child food along with the drumsticks, the thighs for all kinds of Asian food, kebabs, the wings for bar food. The most in demand part is the breasts; the most versatile the thigh meat.

By the way, chickens only officially have one breast. So, when you think you're chewing on a chicken breast, you're only half right.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Where is this all going?

Sometimes I think only someone foolish, deluded or just plain March hare crazy would want to own, manage and chef their own kitchen. For someone who never actually worked in a production oriented, professional restaurant kitchen to attempt such a feat could only be described as lunacy. Or perhaps rushing in where any angel would have done prior research into the true nature of the beast and decided that sitting on a cloud playing the harp is preferable to suffering long hours of kitchen hellfire.

Then there's the part about having to pay back loans (or risk a small fortune). The restaurant actually has to remain profitable over a period long enough to reimburse its debt, turn a profit, become enough of an asset that it could be used to earn enough money to one day retire. Burning out before break-even is therefore not an option for the debt-averse.

Yet, here I am in a program whose end result would be my transformation into someone very much resembling a chef. Since I'm not exactly the typical nineteen year old ready to be molded into whatever someone desires, I wonder if a working, non-ownership position is even a possibility.

Seems like going through all of this just to make better turkey at Thanksgiving, grill tastier steaks for the Fourth of July or just save money by not dining in fancy restaurants is really a waste of resources.  At least a semester's tuition at the community college is about the price of four nice steaks in an upscale restaurant.