Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 9: Select, Prepare and Cook Poultry

Cleaned and prepped poultry: Supreme`, Marylands, Skin and Frenched Thigh

If an animal has feathers and a beak it is classified as being a bird – duh! In eating terms this converts into the broad poultry classification. Although personally speaking chicken is the most boring, bland meat of them all, it is chicken that springs to mind for majority of the world in conjunction to the word poultry, defaulted by its widespread popularity both in the East and the West.

Classical French Chicken Stew: Coq au Vin

Chicken’s popularity and its huge fan following can basically be blamed and summed up by three main factors. One, that today chicken is the cheapest meat to buy both cooked and uncooked. Two, chicken production is on such a mass scale it has managed to attain a manufactured standardised quality reminiscent of a processed, packaged food, thus its characteristic institutionalised flavour is hardly a surprise.
Three, chicken is largely sold in prepped, cut and trimmed pre-packaged pieces, whole chickens prepped, trussed and ready for roasting or boneless strips and dice – all of which feeds into the 21st century mechanical and sterile mindset – one where we are so far removed with the fact that we are in fact consuming an animal, that we rather pretend meat comes from a packet rather than what was not long ago a living, breathing animal.

Sesame Chicken Tenderlions with Corriander-Tomato Salsa

Although today many people would be surprised to learn the poultry extends far beyond the sterile, bland production line chooks (Aussie term for chickens) encompassing ducks, pheasants, poussins (young chickens about 4-6 weeks old), quails, pigeons as well as wild or game birds such as emu, ostrich and guinea fowl.

Roasted Poussin seasoned with sage and bacon, Jus Lie, roast pumpkin, zuchini and fondant potato

Pan-seared quail dressed with balsamic vinegar, watercress, tomato, finsished with green peppercorns and olive oil

Chicken is always cooked until well done – completely through to 75 degrees C, while on the contrary duck and quail breasts may be served medium-rare so the interior is moist and pink. The tougher legs resultant from the development of thicker, developed muscles however is always served well done as in the case of chicken.

Pan-Seared Duck Rose, steamed Brocollini and Bok Choy with Confit Citrus Zest and Orange Segments

Confit Duck
Confit Duck with Buttered French Blue-Eyed Lentils
In this module we learned how to identify fresh birds, check if they had been thawed and re-frozen by looking for signs of freezer-burn, pools of water in bags etc as well as breaking down the carcass into restaurant pieces/cuts, frenching bones into smooth presentable tips, skinning poultry and of course employing several traditional as well as contemporary cooking methods and techniques to achieve a range of dishes and options.
Cajun Spiced Blackened Turkey on Grilled Pineapple and Beurre Blanc
Ironically, while my days were busily spent skinning, boning, trussing, filleting, roasting, frying and baking chicken, my evenings were filled with the reading of Jeffrey Steingarten’s, It Must Have Been Something I Ate, specifically the chapter entitled Birds of a Feather. The following is an interesting excerpt that deals directly with the lessons I learned and the far reaching implications of globalisation, one of my favourite subjects.
Stuffing and sewing a balottine of chicken
“Its name is Turkducken, and it is a creation of the Cajun people of southern Louisiana, who take a chicken, a duck, and a turkey, remove most of the bones and then stuff the chicken into the duck, and the duck into the turkey, and tuck savoury stuffing’s in between. The entire thing is roasted for quite some time – as long as 13 hours. Then, being boneless, it is simply sliced crosswise, each slice revealing six concentric rings of juicy goodness…. So, what is an authentic Turkducken and when did they do it? Who made the first Turkducken and when did they do it?
… I will admit I had already formulated a theory. The Cajuns descended from French settlers who in 1604 had immigrated to the maritime provinces of Canada, which they called Acadie, or Acadia in English. During and after the French and Indian Wars the victorious British expelled the Acadians, many of who were drawn to Louisiana, still largely French….

Pan-fried Ballottine with rice and Jus Lie
…. So here is my theory: The French have many recipes in which fowl are boned or skinned, stuffed with their own meat or that of other creatures, and roasted or boiled. These are called galantines and ballottines. Are they the ancestors of the Turkducken? Did the Cajuns bring the recipe for galantines from southern France to the New World?”

Galantine of Chicken - roasted Nori, Chicken farce and tenderloin served with Watercress and pickles

No comments: