Braisin’ and stewin’

Since we did not have enough time the last class to make the trout amandine, we made it this day (July 12, Day 4) as the first item of the night.  It was so simple — no recipe necessary (especially with all of the ingredients mise’d out).  I was assigned trout amandine for a dish analysis assignment.  We had to research the history of the dish — where/how it originated, what part of the meal it appears in, its evolution to how it is today, etc. — and give a mini presentation on it.  Trout amandine is a dish popular in the south, particularly on the Gulf Coast – New Orleans, in particular.  It is trout filet (skin-on) dredged in flour, fried in butter, and topped with a brown butter lemon sauce and toasted almonds.  It was delicious — very lemony with a slight nutty component (from the brown butter, and almonds, of course).  My particular trout could have used a bit more salt & pepper, and the almonds could have browned a bit more.  Other than that, it was absolutely fantastic, if I do say so myself.  I even made it at home a couple of days later.  It was even better!

Half-eaten trout amandine

After we made the trout quickly, we moved on to coq au vin, using marinated legs and thighs from the previous day’s chicken breakdown lesson.  This was my first time making it, and I have to say that I definitely want to make it again.  Although it was time-consuming (having to marinate the chicken overnight, braise the thighs for almost an hour, and carefully reduce the sauce), it was definitely worth the effort.  This is basically the chicken version of boeuf bourguignon (beef burgundy).  The most action came after the chicken was done cooking.  Having to multi-task reducing the wine sauce at the same time as I sautéed pearl onions and mushrooms, crisped lardons, and toasted croutons, making sure not to reduce the sauce TOO much, or break the sauce had me running walking briskly from stove top to stove top (especially since only 1/2 of the burners on the stove I was working on actually worked, and I was sharing it with one other person).  In the end, I ended up reducing the sauce a bit too much, so I added some chicken stock and the reduced stock from cooking the mushrooms and onions.  After doing so, the end-result was very satisfying.  The sauce didn’t break and it was perfectly seasoned.  I was very happy with it, especially it being the first time I had made the dish.

Coq au vin (chicken in red wine sauce), with croutons, pearl onions and mushrooms

The other dish we worked on while the chicken was cooking was ratatouille.  This is another dish I had never had before.  In fact, the first time I had heard of it was in the Disney film, “Ratatouille” (and even then I wasn’t clear as to what it was exactly).  Apparently, it is traditionally a vegetable stew of onions, bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, and garlic stewed in tomatoes.  I am not a fan of bell peppers or eggplant, so I was curious to see how I would feel about it. It was relatively simple — just mix all ingredients together and let stew for about half an hour.  It dried out a little bit at one point, so we added some water to make sure the vegetables didn’t burn.  After trying a few bites, I decided that I did not, in fact, like it very much.  I think it was the combination of flavors from the bell peppers, and the texture of the eggplant that I did not care for.  I did not take any photos of that.  Mm-mnh, no siree.

After a hectic first few days, it was nice to have a bit of a breather with these relatively laid-back dishes.  Watch out, coq au vin — we will meet again.  Consider that a promise.

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