Thursday, December 17, 2009

Menu No. 4: veal scaloppini

The fourth and last plate for the Culinary Foundations II competency final exam, to be prepped, cooked and plated on Friday, will be veal scaloppini, with a marsala wine sauce, sauté of greens beans or brussels sprouts, pommes duchesse and a garnish.

The veal presents a dichotomy in handling and preparation. It's a small cut of meat that must be treated carefully. That is, seemingly, except at the beginning, when it must be pounded with the spike side of a meat hammer (left) to tenderize it, then with the blunt side to tenderize further and flatten uniformly for cooking. But even those actions must be done so as not to break the fiber of the meat entirely.

Even before that, one must prep the ingredients for the marsala wine sauce -- diced shallot, sliced mushrooms and fresh thyme -- and have on hand butter, the marsala wine and demi-glace (highly concentrated veal stock).

When those are ready, the sauté is heated, the butter melted in the hot pan and the veal lightly floured before going into the sauté for a couple of minutes on each side. The desired effect is a little browning before removing the veal from the heat to make the sauce. When the sauce is nearly finished, the veal goes back in for a few seconds before it and the sauce are plated.

Whether it's green beans or brussels sprouts, they are cooked similarly: blanched in salt water, shocked in ice water, followed by sauté in rendered bacon fat with julienne of red bell pepper and diced onion.

Pommes duchesse take the most prep, starting with making what in essence are mashed potatoes, adding cream, butter and seasonings, then putting the concoction in a pastry bag for piping into elegant little "cakes" that then are baked until golden brown (right). The keys are no lumps and the right color and crust on the finished potato.

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