Lesson 34: Coq Au Vin & Ratatouille

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Today was our first lesson on stewing.  Like braising, stewing involves cooking tougher cuts of meat for a long period of time in liquid.  The result is a tender juicy meat in a flavorful, rich sauce.

We made four classic recipes today.  Since my group had four people, we just divided up the recipes so there was no confusion and we could each work on our own thing (we also helped each other out with various components of the recipes).  I chose to cook the ratatouille.  I was a bit torn because I knew I should have chosen one of the meat recipes to get more experience fabricating and cooking different cuts of meat, but I have always wanted to make a ratatouille and was really excited to try out this recipe.  

I started out by cutting all of the vegetables in a medium dice (eggplant, peppers--green, yellow, & red, yellow squash, zucchini, onion, shallot, and garlic).  I salted the eggplant and let it rest on paper towel to get rid of the bitterness. [It sat for about 30 minutes, then was rinsed and dried]   I sauteed each vegetable individually in olive oil and added it to a large pot.  I added canned crushed tomatoes (about 20 oz), a sachet d'epices (various herbs & spices in cheesecloth), salt, pepper, thyme sprigs, and fresh basil.  The mixture simmered, covered for about 20 minutes, until all of the vegetables were tender.  I enjoyed it even more when I got home and added some crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan.  This would be great over pasta!
In the meantime, Henry was busy fabricating a chicken for the Coq Au Vin.  This is another recipe that I have been dying to try.  After browning the chicken in rendered bacon fat, the chicken was simmered in a mixture of brandy, red wine, chicken stock, tomato paste, garlic, and herbs.  
The stewing mixture was then strained and reduced.  Blanched onions and sauteed mushrooms were added in at the end.  We could definitely taste the red wine in this dish... but hey, I do like my red wine!
[The other] Allison worked on the Provencale Lamb Stew.  The lamb was browned with garlic and Herbes de Provence.  White wine, veal stock, canned chopped tomatoes, and orange rind were added to cover the meat.  The lamb stew roasted in the oven for an hour or so--until the lamb was tender.  The sauce was passed through a food mill before it was served over the meat.

Matt worked on the final dish, Blanquette of Veal.  This recipe was the most in-depth and required the most work.  I helped him prep a bit in the beginning and helped finish off the sauce at the end.  Unfortunately, since we finished this dish last, it was not even plated and I didn't get a picture :(  .. It was wonderful though!!

The veal cubes were blanched before starting the stew.  Large chunks of celery and carrot were added to the pot, along with 2 pieces of onion studded with cloves and bay leaves, and about 40 oz of veal stock (to completely cover the veal).  After simmering away for over an hour, a blond roux was made to thicken the strained stewing liquid.  Braised pearl onions and mushroom caps were added to this thickened mixture.  At the very end, we added a final thickening agent of heavy cream, egg yolks, and lemon juice.  This sauce was creamy and rich, yet tasted fresh from the lemon juice.

All of the dishes we made today were perfect on top of some buttered egg noodles!

I am super excited for tomorrow's recipes (more stewing).. It's supposed to snow tonight into tomorrow morning, so I am praying the commute won't be too horrible!  


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