Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sauteed Breast of Duck with Blackberry Gastrique


1 Duck Breast, skin on
1 tsp Shallot, ciseler
3 oz Fresh Whole Blackberries
1 oz. Whole Butter
3 oz. Granulated Sugar
3 oz. Red Wine Vinegar
4 oz. Veal Demiglace
As needed Kosher Salt
As needed Black Pepper

Prepare the gastrique by lightly caramelizing the sugar in a sauce pan. Add the vinegar and simmer until the crystallized sugar softens and is incorporated into the syrup. Reserve the gastrique base. Reserve a couple of the blackberries for garnish and puree the rest. Score the skin of the duck breast - take care to not cut into the flesh. Season the duck breast with salt and pepper and carefully place the duck skin side down in a cold pan then turn heat on medium to render and crisp the fatty skin. Baste the duck occasionally with its own fat, cooking slowly enough to cook the breast to the desired doneness. I recommend medium rare. (Duck, unlike chicken, CAN be served medium rare). Remove the duck from the pan and reserve warm. Add the shallot to the pan and saute for 30 seconds. Add the demiglace, the blackberry puree and a small amount of the gastrique base. Simmer to a light nape consistency and strain. Add the whole beries to the sauce and adjust the flavor of the sauce with the salt, pepper and additional gastrique. Slice the breast, sauce the duck, and serve immediately.

The First Blog...an introduction

This is the first entry into my new blog! I hope you find it as informative and entertaining as I find culinary school. I have been attending the Texas Culinary Academy - Le Cordon Bleu since November and am loving every minute! The school offers so much information and hands-on training that it could make a girl's head spin.

I am enrolled in the culinary arts certificate program and am learning EVERYTHING a good chef will need for a great foundation. I am in the accelerated program and attend class Monday through Friday from 5:30-11pm. Each of the different classes are in three week blocks. The classes begin with a three week sanitation course which ends with a vast amount of knowledge and a lot of hand washing. Nothing like seeing the results of poor sanitation and food prep to make you listen and learn! That class is followed by Basic Cookery. After the first three weeks they throw you in the deep end and you're in the labs!

The labs are where the fun begins! My first lab class was The Fundamentals of Culinary Arts. We learned how to make all the mother sauces, compound sauces, stocks, soups and some of the 100 ways to prepare an egg. Interestingly enough, the chef's toque (the tall hat) has 100 pleats in it, each representing a different way to cook an egg! Chef Steven Loiacono, of Bellagio fame, was a fascinating instructor and I soaked up as much knowledge from him as I could!

The next class I took was Principles of Meat, Poultry and Fish. That's when the photos began! Learning to plate is as important as the taste. Each chef has his own techniques and the artful display of your food is one of the more interesting aspects of cooking. I was in awe of the talent displayed by my chef instructor, Chef Becky Fischer. She has an impressive resume (including Hudson's on the Bend) and has an encylopedic knowledge of cooking! It's wonderful to learn from the best!

I have just begun the Patisserie and Baking class. I was nervous to start since I've never considered myself a baker. Oddly enough, I can't get enough of it! I know I will complete this class with the knowledge I will need if my Pastry Chef ever walks out!

The one thing that I have learned that I hold dear...cook with your heart! I hope you enjoy my photos and please try some of the recipes!