Methods: This is a living list of crucial cooking standards that every cook should know. This can be updated or changed but a basic set most kitchens should use. Some chefs may differ on these and others need to use these methods. You only know as much as the people you work with. Know enough to know we learn everyday. Best practice is to ask the chef, never assume you know the right method.
Taste is Everything, Quality is a fact.
Always taste everything, everything gets seasoned. Everything must be able to stand on its own. Always use a spoon, no fingers. Always taste throughout service and correct if necessary. Soups, broths, liquids can become salty or broken if not attended too. Pursue the moment of excellence.
Garnish Garnish Garnish
Place peppers over open flame and char on all sides. A Mapp gas torch burns at an extreme high temperature and is perfect for scorching but not cooking the pepper. Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap until skin has softened to peel, use bowl of warm water to peel and rinse, do not use running water in the sink, clean out the drain when finished.
Use the largest pot for blanching in very salty boiling water, do not blanch anything in bundles, example asparagus. Do not walk away from the pot while cooking. Keep the water deep, boiling and moving to accurately blanch the vegetables evenly. Remove vegetables and immediately immerse in 50/50 water and ice bath until completely chilled. Remove and allow to drain.
Sear or Grill Proteins
Season with salt and pepper or dry spice rub immediately before placing on heat. Ensure heat source is hot, with or with out oil, grapeseed oil preferred. All meats seared in a pan, comal or flat top need whole thyme and rosemary sprigs in the pan. If grilling, determine diamonds with 60 degree turns for grill marks. When searing fish, allow for a solid brown caramel on meat before turning over. Poele with butter, shallots, herbs, lemon, white wine/vermouth. Remove and rest. Once it is placed in the oven, you can start to lose control of the temperature.
Blanch in boiling water with scored base and cored, shock in cold water and peel, seed and dice. A quick hint is to use the coffee machine hot water tap to quickly blanch a small amount of tomates.
Ingredients should be heated and held separately and then folded into cooked omelette. There should never be any brown color to the exterior of the omelette and ingredients will be inside. It is not proper to cook the omelette ‘frittata’ style unless you are making a frittata. Garnish garnish garnish. P.S. a ‘southern’ style omelette is a lazy mans omelette.
Seared in sauté pan, blue steel or carbon steel preferred, with clarified butter. This helps with a ‘crust’ on the outside, allowing for two distinct textures of the crab cake, a hot crispy exterior and a hot smooth interior. The flat top is not the correct method. Again, monte with with butter and fresh lemon before service.
Heating Sauces and Soups
Bring to a bare simmer, skim and pass through chinois. Every time a sauce is transferred from one pot to another, pass through a chinois, taste, adjust with stock. Fortify veal based sauces with a roasted veal bone, lamb bone/lamb stock, ect
When cut, salt and let rest 20 minutes to purge the water, pat dry and grill, roast, or caramelize in a pan. No color = no flavor
Rinse bones with cold water, drain. Cover bones with cold water, bring to simmer to purge bones, drain, rinse and cover again with cold water and bring to slow simmer with following veg. For 40# bones, 1 200 pan full of chopped onions and 1 400 pan split half with celery and carrot. Use these vegetables for the stock. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, herb sprigs. Add 12 gallons of water. Do not bring to boil but keep on low, let cook 16 hours, skimming constantly with ladle. Remove bones for remoulage. Drain stock and prepare the pincage. Yield will be approximately 10 gallons of veal stock. Sweat vegetables in braiser or large sauté pans. Caramelized 1 200 pan of fresh tomato. Deglaze and reduce 8 btls of red wine to half. Add veal stock to this and prepare for the demi glace.
Veal Demi Glace
Reduce veal stock slowly, use remoulage from previous batch if available, skim constantly. Pass through chinois into another pot when reduced by a quarter and again when stock has been reduce to half of its original quantity.
Purge 40# bones to start, cover with cold water and bring to simmer, skim foam and drain bones and water. Add veg, 4 gallons of mirepoix with fresh herb sprigs, parsley, peppercorns and bay leaves, cover with water and cook low, barely a simmer, 6 hours, skim constantly. Strain, chill.
Keep gold potatoes in cold water, boil until fork tender in seasoned water. Drain, dry on sheet tray or in stock pot to allow steam to escape. Hot whole milk, not boiled and cold butter diced chunks to be folded in after ricing potatoes. Whisk quickly and violently to emulsify butter. Do not melt the butter with the milk. This separates and does not emulsify with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, pinch of nutmeg. Potatoes should be loose and form a meniscus on the plate when plated.
Cook al dente in salted water, cool on sheet tray, do not rinse with water, oil and season with salt and pepper.
Season mirepoix every step of production, do not wait until the end. Chill soups overnight before serving. Vita prep all smooth soups before service. Check seasoning.
Clean, pick stems, cut if necessary. In hot pan with olive oil blend or clarified butter add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, allow to brown on one side but do not stir or pack pan that the mushrooms will steam. Shake pan when one side is caramelized, remove from heat and allow to rest. Retain cooling juices or liquid for later use. May also deglaze with previous batch of mushroom ‘liquor’ or with wine, ect.
Butter blocks in bain marie in hot water bath. Melt completely until solids settle, skim top, transfer to quart containers.
All food and preparations shall be the same as for restaurants. Quality and ingredients are the same.
Toasted Bread for Bruscetta
Season sheet tray with olive oil or clarified butter. Season with salt and pepper. Lay bread on tray, rotate gently and turn over. Toast lightly but not too hard until else it will chip a tooth. Avoid drizzling with oil.
Fresh ground beef needs to be worked gently until almost sticky. This helps the myocin form with the myoglobins. Too much work and the burger is a meatloaf that will break when eating. Too little and the flavor is not great but it crumbles on the bun like picadillo. Gentle pressure and a thumbprint in the middle will help with the shape on the skillet. Avoid the grill unless using a comal on the grill, cast iron or flat top preferred. Consider the condiments and how the burger is eaten. I prefer the lettuce (chiffonade) and tomato, pickle, ect under the hot meat as it is a chaser, a cool intermezzo to the hot fatty and maybe cheesy burger. Critical thinking on a burger. Also works well if you have several on the the board, best to arrange them by temp and not assemble on the station, it only cools the burger before it gets to the guest.