Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sharpening my knife and my mind for final exams

Fabricating a chicken -- that is, cutting it up for cooking -- to meet American Culinary Federation standards is required to pass Culinary Foundations III. The test will be on Wednesday, and we will have a maximum of 15 minutes to complete it.

(My latest practice effort took 7 minutes, but there was no pressure.)

The ACF certification requires cutting the bird into 10 parts:
* The wishbone. This is the collarbone, and it is removed first, to make it easier to cut the breasts from the bone. Not all chefs or butchers remove it first, but it is required for ACF certification.
* 2 legs and thighs, with "oyster" intact. The oyster is a small lump of dark meat on the back of the thigh, prized by many as the most tender and flavorful part of the bird.
* 2 breasts, both boneless, one skinless.
* 2 tenderloins. The tenderloin is an oblong piece of white meat attached to the breast by a thin piece of membrane. It can be pulled off or is easily cut off.
* 2 wings, including one with the meat pulled down off the bone "lollipop" style.
* The remaining carcass. This is inspected to ensure that as much usable meat as possible has been cut from it.
Martin Yan of "Yan Can Cook" fame fabricates a chicken with a cleaver in under 20 seconds, as seen on this YouTube video. Included is Yan's heartfelt lesson to the students about the need to entertain restaurant guests.

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