Today was a long day. We made 3 dishes in under two hours and not only did each dish have a few components, we were given 10 minute windows to turn them in. Meaning if you cooked your chicken marsala and finished it before the allotted window, it would sit and get cold. I don't personally like the windows as I find it wastes time in the beginning. I have an hour and a half to prep everything...when really all I need is about 45 minutes. At least if I could turn things in early, I could start cleaning up. But with the windows it's like, "hurry up and wait..."
I did my salmon dish first. We grilled salmon and plated it on leeks with pancetta, and then grilled vegetables marinated in balsamic, olive oil and oregano. The leeks needed to be cooked, the pancetta needed to be rendered, the vegetables marinated, then all onto the grill...and this was just for dish #1.
My plate came out looking a little cluttered. I need to work on my presentation skills. I should have piled the vegetables under the salmon and had a better control of my balsamic vinaigrette on the plate. The salmon was nicely cooked though - medium rare and the vegetables came out quite well also.
Next I started my chicken marsala. I pounded the chicken and seasoned it and dredged it in flour. Then I placed it in a hot saute pan with blended oil. After the chicken was done I started the pan sauce. I started by sweating the onions and then adding mushrooms and salt. I kept the pan moving and was careful not to brown the onions. I deglazed with marsala, because after all, this is a marsala sauce.
Then I added a cup of veal stock, reduced to sauce consistency and put the chicken back in to rewarm and cover with the saucy goodness.
The last dish of the day was the striped bass with fine herbs sauce. The sauce was the most difficult part of the dish. I started by sweating shallots in oil and then deglazing with white wine and reducing until au sec (almost dry). Then I added chicken stock and approximately 2 tablespoons cream off the heat to be sure it doesn't break. After slightly reducing, I strained the sauce into another sauce pan and added the herbs-parsley, tarragon, chevril, and chives. Meanwhile I sauteed the fish, skin side down first over high heat and then flipped it, killed the heat and finished the fish. The dish came out nicely, the fish perfectly, but the sauce could have been reduced a tad bit more...I was just afraid I was going to break it-plus the ominous time window was almost over, so I didn't really have time... There's always tomorrow.
Tonight I had dinner at Bouchon in Beverly Hills. The fun thing about dinning at a classic French bistro is being able to see the French technique that I am practicing every day. To start I had a french onion soup, that I honestly don't think tasted as good as mine from class a few days ago. Then I had the crispy pork belly with julienned cut apples and a side of brussel sprouts. I could see the sauce was a pan sauce, and am paying much more attention to detail in presentation than I ever did before. I always knew a beautiful plate when I saw one, but now I understand that elements of height and empty space play a very important role. Tomorrow I'm making duck with a cherry sauce...I'm excited.