Thursday, October 29, 2009

Venison? No, it's me looking into the headlights

Shrimp bisque was on the menu in Culinary Foundations I today. The action:

"May I have a couple of volunteers? One for the mirepoix ... "

My hand shot into the air, but Chef Tony Marano pointed to fellow culinary arts student Rob Park.

" ... and one to make velouté."

What the hey, I thought, my hand going up again.

"Michael, what will your proportions be?" Chef asked.

Uh, geez, what does the recipe say? I thought, glancing toward my open copy of "Professional Cooking," our key textbook.

"No, not from the book. From memory," Chef gently admonished, bringing on my deer-in-the-headlights look. He added: "Am I putting you on the spot?"

"Yes, but I need to be put on the spot," I muttered. I am smart, I thought to myself; just slow.

"What's the proportion I told you to remember for the rest of your lives?" Chef asked me and the rest of the class. "Eight to one."

He was referring to the proportion of stock to roux to make sauce. Hence, 1 gallon of stock, 1 pound of roux; 1 quart of stock, 4 ounces of roux.

I hastened to the stove top, weighed out 2 ounces of flour and 2 ounces of clarified butter, the requisite 4 ounces total for the roux, to be added to 1 quart of fish stock. The stirring began.

Relatively speaking, the rest went smoothly, and we produced a nice flavorful shrimp bisque, with an 8-to-1 proportion of stock to roux.

Eight to one. Eight to one. Eight to one.

I shant forget it again.

(Photo shows the bisque before straining -- with the shrimp shells still in it.)

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