Unfortunately, I have not been able to keep up with these most dedicated women by cooking each Wednesday. Therefore, I am working my way through the book in honor of Shari and the fellow women, but slightly out of the order in which they are doing it, and in the order in which the book was printed.
I have to note that my boyfriend (who also is an avid cook, and whom I can thank for getting me into cooking, and who will be my sous chef while we work our way through the book) got in an argument as to the "correct way" to work through the book. I wanted to follow the outline that Shari has on her page, where she starts with knife skills, then to garnishes, doughs, and so on and so forth and follows in the natural order of which, I believe, culinary schools follow. He wants to do it in the way the book is printed - in three parts, ranging from basic to advanced techniques.
I'm a bit bitter, because the girl is always supposed to win. If you knew my boyfriend, though, you'd see that it is impossible to win in an argument with him. It doesn't help that he is borderline brilliant, and usually right on any topic that is brought up. And I'm glad that he doesn't keep up with reading this blog (ahem, as much as he should) unless I remind him, so he won't see that I wrote that. And I won't bother him this week about reading my posts.
Chapter One it is. I guess that the people at Le Cordon Bleu feel that roasting a chicken is, by far, the easiest cooking method there is. I mean, you throw a chicken in a roasting pan and call it a day, right?
Start off by rinsing the chicken and then patting it dry. Then, season the cavity with salt and pepper and add the garlic and herbs. Then, truss the chicken. I followed the diagram very carefully. What seems like a very easy process is actually, quite annoying. I felt like a child trying to tie her shoe for the first time. Bunny ear, through the loop...
The poor chicken never knew what was coming.
After removing the chicken from the pan, I finally got to cook a jus, basically a fancy French word (and seriously, what French word isn't fancy?) for juice, by cooking the particles on the top of the pan with the fat and juices in the pan. No "Gravy Master" here (sorry, Dad)! Just fat in juice!
It's kind of like the episode of Friends where Joey drinks the fat.
(And yes, I talk about Friends a lot. It's a great show, and a lot of life's lessons can be applied to an episode of Friends.)
I grabbed my butcher's knife, which I have yet to use since purchasing my set of knives several months ago. My heart always skips a beat whenever I accidentally pull the butcher knife from the block, as those knives are scary. Like, "if I accidentally drop this, I'm going to sever my foot at the ankle" scary. Like "don't even enter the kitchen while this is in my hand" scary. But I took an odd fascination with it this time around, as it was going to be put to use. So I butchered the chicken. Literally. This lesson obviously did not teach me how to carve a chicken. I swung away like John McEnroe on the tennis court (not really), with the poor, massacred chicken, my tennis ball.
But the skin was not crispy. At all. In fact, it was very limp (can you tell from the picture? Don't lie, you totally can). It was tasty, but limp.
I actually have roasted a chicken Alice Waters style (which I will write about later in the week as a comparison), and the skin was perfectly crisp and delicious. But I actually can't tell the difference as to why the Alice Waters chicken skin was so crisp, but this was so limp? Alice's chicken was just lightly brushed with oil. Was it the butter molestation? The smathering down of vegetable oil?
Was it the chicken's revenge on me for not at least buying it a drink first?