Today we learned about wet cooking methods like braising, simmering, poaching, steaming, and others. Braising has to be my favorite method – it has a really powerful ability to soften harder vegetables and impart very good flavor into them.
Chef Rosa showed us a couple of different ways to take the liquids used in wet cooking and create sauces. I love learning this kind of thing because I think it’s part of what can take my cooking to the next level.
In the demo class today, we saw
- Braised squash and apples with herbs
- Poached pears in a vanilla wine syrup
- Pan-steamed carrots in an orange sauce
- Oven steamed vegetables en papillote (in parchment)
Below: Chef Rosa in demo class peeling pears for poaching.
Below: Julienned vegetables for the papillote and carrots for the pan steam.
Below: Browning butternut squash and apples prior to them being braised. You first brown the squash, season it with salt and pepper, deglaze the pan to capture those richly-flavored brown bits of caramelized food, then add a good measure of stock for braising. Toss in an ample supply of potent herbs and you are in business. It takes about 40 minutes in the oven to soften the squash and apples up, but they come out tasting like a million bucks.
Below: Browned squash ready to be loved in the oven.
Below: Demo kitchen is happily not just a sit and listen lecture. Chef Rosa does a good job encouraging us to stand and watch up close, as well as get hands on a bit.
Below: The finished braise.
Below: Poached pears are looking lonely without their vanilla wine reduction.
In lab kitchen, we continued work on wet cooking methods. My group was assigned to braise some cabbage and fennel bulbs. We again used a stock made earlier in the week for the braising and the end product was amazing. Tender cabbage, soft leeks and fennel…outstanding. Chef Alex reminded us that at this phase our main focus is proper cooking and mastering the basics, not brilliant plating and presentation technique. Each team’s leader gets the chance to talk about the food we made, so it’s a great chance to practice using our culinary vocabulary.
Below: The results of lab kitchen on Thursday. Our braised cabbage on the bottom right.