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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Butchering and Ethics of Chicken

I love butchering chicken. It is very relaxing and fun. Every week I get an organic chicken that is free range and was never injected with hormones. If there was a local farm near my home that raised chicken I would 100 % get from them, but there are none so I must buy from the supermarket. Chickens that are not free range live their whole life's inside. They never see grass, sky, sun, etc. Imagine living in a world where you were kept inside locked in a cage for your whole life. The chickens are absolutely miserable. And by the way they are fattened so much that they cannot even walk. It is an absolute disgrace! Never buy chicken from big corporate companies like Perdue or Tyson. They torture the chickens, lock them up and fatten them into misery. For your information these chickens taste horrible. There is no flavor in them. There is no chicken flavor. The first time I ever had a real chicken that was properly raised it blew me away. It actually tasted like chicken. I repeat never ever buy chicken from Perdue or Tyson again! Support your local farmers who are passionate about what they are doing.

There are great videos on Youtube that go into great detail about farming food with Dan Barber, which I encourage you to watch.

When most people get whole chickens there first thought is to roast it whole. There are pros and cons to roasting whole chickens. The major pro is that it looks great and brings you back to your childhood. Everyone remembers Sunday night dinners with their families where mom has just roasted a beautiful, delicious chicken. The major con is that the breasts are overcooked while the legs are undercooked. Breast are perfectly cooked when they reach 155 degrees Fahrenheit, while legs are perfectly cooked when they reach 170 degrees. Would you ever imagine cooking pork tenderloin and pork belly for the same amount of time. Absolutely not. The pork tenderloin would way over cook, just like the chicken breasts do. This is why I butcher my chicken and utilize the different organs in with different cooking techniques.
Now on to my butchering techniques. I start off by turning the chicken on it's backside. I then break the legs off the carcass just with my hands. Then I take my knife and start to make incisions near the joint that I broke. While I am doing this I am also pulling the leg away from the carcass.  I try my best to make sure I remove the oyster from the carcass with the leg (I was successful with one of the legs). The oyster is the best part of the chicken. There are two oysters in every chicken. They are very flavorful and extremely tender. Next, I remove the other leg with the same technique stated above. After the legs I break the wing joint and slide my knife around it and pull off the whole wing. I repeat this on the second wing. Now onto the breasts and tenderloin. I take my knife and slice across the wish bone removing the whole breast in one slice. Now just with my hand I pull then tenderloin away from the carcass in a clean motion.

I love chicken skin. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper and crisped up it is delicious. Chicken skin is the bacon of chicken. At the Gorbals, executive Chef Ilan Hall, he has a dish that is called the GLT which is a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and crisped chicken skin. I take the skin off the back of the chicken and will use it as a garnish to one of my dishes in the week.
I took the breast and brined them in a salt, sugar, lemon, garlic, thyme, pepper, and water solution. I took the legs and skin and put a quick cure on them. I seasoned them heavenly with salt, pepper, lemon zest, thyme, and sugar.

I took the wings and carcass and roasted them in the oven with onion, garlic, parsnip, carrot, tomato paste, and smoked pork neck bones. Once they were caramelized I dumped them in a pot of water to start my stock. I simmered the stock for about 5 hours skimming away the fat constantly. Once the stock was done simmering I strained it and put it into an ice bath and skimmed it a final time. The stock went into the freezer for later use.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I made this pizza three years ago when I was just starting to get into food. The dough came from a pizza place. Back then I did not know or have the skill to make my own pizza dough, but now I could very easily. I remember vaguely seasoning the dough with herbs and salt. I added a little roasted tomato and pepper sauce, which was made homemade on the dough and added caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, and some variety of roasted peppers. I baked it in a very, very hot oven until it was golden brown. That pizza was so good and it did not even have cheese. Back then I ate extremely healthy so there was no butter or cheese involved. If I was going to make this pizza again there would definitely be cheese and other fatty ingredients involved.

It is fun to look back on your own work. During the time I was making the pizza I was a health nut and never imagined eating fatty foods, but now I do all the time. It is crazy how much I learned about food from then to now. Imagine how much I could learn in the next 3 years. I will look back on what I was doing and see my mistakes. Will I still be writing this blog in 3 years? Who knows.


When I was at Shop Rite today in Bound brook I saw something that made me very happy. They had calf brains, calf tongue, and calf heart. I got all three and cannot wait to cook them soon. I have eaten heart before at Uproot, but I have never eaten brains or tongue. I am looking through the French Laundry Cookbook and The Complete Robuchon to get tips on how to prepare them. So far I think I am going to pair the brain with scrambled egg. I might pickle the tongue and make a play on corned beef. I might do heart two ways. I will use some for a tartar (Chris Cosentino of Incanto makes this) and them I will braise some with aromatics and stock.

From the camera all of the organs look very similar, but however they are very different.

How do you guys think I should prepare my offal?

Pork Chops

Today I got 4 thick bone in pork chops, brussel sprouts, apples, and beets.
I started off by making a brine. I mixed together a gallon of water, a cup of salt, black pepper, lemon peel, coriander seeds, thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, honey, and Worcestershire sauce. I boiled this and then chilled it to at least 40 degrees F. Then I added the pork chops. I let the pork chops sit in the brine over night. Brines should taste like ocean water that has been slightly flavored with some sort of acid, sprice, and herb.
The next day I removed the pork chops and dried them off. I coated them in olive oil and put them on a hot grill. I cooked them for about 7 minutes each side until they got a nice brown crust and were internally about 155 degrees. They did not need to be seasoned because of the brine. After the pork chops were cooked I let them rest for 5 minutes before serving so the juices would redistribute.
Meanwhile I cut the brussel sprouts in have and removed the outer leaves. I blanched the brussel spouts in salty water for about a minute and then shocken them in salty ice water. This keeps the brussel sprouts bright green. I tossed the brussel sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, thyme, and lemon and roasted them in a hot oven until they were golden brown.
For the apples I simply diced them and tossed them with olive oil, salt, lemon, onion, and thyme.
It turns out I forgot to use the beets, which I am really pissed about. I would have used them in the apple salad. Tomorrow I will make a raw beat salad. Personally, I enjoy raw beets more then cooked beets. Raw beets have a great texture and a more pungent flavor then cooked beets in my opinion.

The dish was delicious. The pork was extremely moist and flavorful. Brines work wonders on white meats. From a basic standpoint, brining meats allows the cells of the meat to hold salt water inside of them when they cook. This keeps them extremely moist and flavorful. The brussel sprouts were so good. They were crisp, salty, spicy, sweet, and acidic. The apple added a great freshness to the dish. If I made a bacon reduction of some sort for a sauce that would have complemented the dish beautifully.
I do not have a picture of the dish because my camera was not working!! I will make sure to get more pictures in my posts.

Favorite Candy

In spite of Halloween what are your favorite candies?

Mine are pretzel M&M's, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, SNickers, and TAke 5.
All of them have a good  salt/sweet ratio.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Should I get a sous vide supreme?

The sous vide supreme is an awesome piece of equipment, but is it worth the $450?

WD 50

Going to WD 50 in a couple weeks. I cannot wait!! I hope Wylie and Stupak blow me away with there food.

The "real" top chef allstars vs next iron chef

How do you guys think that the Voltaggio brothers, Kevin Gillespie, Jen Carol, or Richard Blais would fair against canora, caswell, forgione, and tsai?
I think it would be a very fair fight.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Food Allergies suck

Fish, nuts, and seeds gone. Never are you to eat, touch, or smell them. If you do possible death. Worrying about cross contamination is awful. Did the clam chowder have fish bones? Did the pad Thai have fish sauce? Are there pistachios in the terrine? These are the questions I must ask every time I go out to eat. Allergies irk the restaurant and the diner that has them. I know from experience working in restaurants that when customers say they have allergies the kitchen staff gets very annoyed because most people do not really have the allergy. I do actually have the allergies and I feel bad when I have to tell the restaurant about my allergies. If I eat something I am allergic to I would go into anaphylactic shock. My throat would close and I would have to stab myself with an epipen and get rushed to the nearest hospital.
I would do anything to get rid of my allergies. I am absolutely obsessed with food yet I have never tasted a morsel of sushi, tuna, salmon, Dover sole, bass, etc. The list goes on an on. I always ask people what these foods taste like. They try to explain, but it is not even close to actually tasting the food.
A drug came out recently that enabled lactose intolerant people to eat dairy products. If a drug came out that enabled me to eat fish, nuts, and seeds I would be ecstatic. I would go to Masa, Sushi Yasuda, Le bernadin, L20, Esca, Marea, etc. and have the best seafood possible.
I do not know if it is possible for me to work professionally in a kitchen with these allergies. Pretty much every station works with these ingredients in some way. I would not be able to saute a piece of fish, or work with nuts or seeds. I guess I would be able to work the meat station, but then how would I evolve as a cook? To become a chef you must work every station and master every station so when you become the leader of the kitchen you instruct every one what to do. If I was to be an executive chef I would not be able to taste the fish dishes, so I would not know if they were up to my standards. Maybe it would be possible to have a restaurant that had nothing I was allergic to. Would it be possible to have a restaurant without seeds and nuts? Yes. Without fish? Probably not.
What do you (the readers) think of my situation?

Dish Idea

Scallop Crudo with raw shaved candy beets, lemon creme fraiche, pickled chilies and pickled mushrooms, olive oil powder, and thyme "air".
 I would slice the scallops thinly as well as the beets. I would put the lemon creme fraiche on the bottom of a rectangular plate artistically. Then I would alternately plate a slice of scallop with a slice of beet until there was a good sized portion. I would sprinkle some olive oil powder around the dish. The olive oil powder is made by mixing 60 % olive oil with 40% N-ZORBIT M together. On top would go some of the pickled chillies and pickled mushrooms. Thyme air would be dolloped on top which would be made by frothing thyme water. I would garnish with fresh micro thyme and Fleur Del sel.
This dish would taste well because it has a great balance of salt (Fleur Del sel), spice and herbs(chillies and thyme air), umami (mushroom, scallop, beet, and creme fraiche), sweetness (beets and scallop), acid (creme fraiche) textural contrast (crunchy beets and delicate scallops), and fat from the creme fraiche and olive oil.

Friday, October 22, 2010

10/21 (Thursday) at Uproot

I arrived at Uproot restaurant at 4:00 P.M. with my Chef's Knife, apron, and chef's jacket. I started off by portioning risotto and stuffing them with sharp cheese. I tasted the cold risotto with the cheese and it was rich and sharp. It was very tasty. Then I rolled the risotto up into balls. I took these risotto balls and dredged them in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs. These were going to be fried and served as a bar menu option. After I finished the risotto it was time for staff meal. There was Sausage with peppers, Drumsticks, Potato Gratin, and a cucumber salad. It was all pretty good. I finished and went back into the kitchen and started cleaning up lots and lots of greens (two crates, which is like 500 greens). By cleaning I had to take the stem out, soak in ice water multiple times, spin in the salad spinner, and chop them up into even sizes. This was a lot of work. After the greens I had to supreme 6 oranges and thinly slice a box of cremini mushrooms. When service started I watched the cooks work and whenever they needed something urgently I would run into the walk-in to get what they were asking for. During this time I get to eat a lot of food. I ate pork belly, scallop, funnel cake, foie gras, a pizza (containing pork belly, duck confit, quail egg, caramelized onion, and Parmesan), beets, different ice creams, cranberry orange oatmeal cookies, and chocolate. All of it was really, really delicious. My dad came to pick me up at 8:15 P.M. and I arrived home tired and stuffed. I had to wake up at 6:15 the next morning for school, which is way too early.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to come up with a dish.

When planning a dish you always have to have great balance. There needs to be a balance of sweetness, saltiness, umami, spice, and fat. Fats are great holders of flavors and need to be cut by acid. Acid cuts the richness and makes the dish feel less heavy. Salt is the most importnant ingredient in cooking. Salt makes everything, yes everything, taste better. This includes sweets as well. You don't believe me. Take a piece of chocolate and taste it. Then add a sprinkle of kosher or sea salt and you will gaurantee like the chocolate with salt better. Salt opens up your taste buds so the flavor can be more pronounce. Also, adding salt to coffee improves the flavor tremendously.
When composing a dish you have to start with a main ingredient and then think of components that go well with the main component and each other. Lets say you start with Pork Chops. Then you think bacon, apple, brussel sprouts, onion, garlic, maple syrup, salt, and black pepper. That dish would work if prepared correctly because there is a balance and cohesiveness throughout.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where should I eat in NYC?

I am going to eat in NYC soon and cannot decide where to go. I have been to Jean Georges, Bar Boulud, EMP, Del Posto, and Bouley for lunch and was able to get away only spending about $30 for each restaurant. Now I have about a $100 budget for the next restaurant I go to. I know Per Se has a 5 course menu, but I do not know how much it is because the Per Se website is always down. I would like to try Marea, Daniel, Aldea, etc. There are so many good places and I need help on making a decison. Where should I go? 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The 2010 Summit Wine and Food Festival's Game Showdown

This even featured 6 chefs cooking duck four a panel of 4 judges and catering to a crowd of about 250 people. The six chefs were Jesse Jones (Executive Chef of Soul Catering), Scott Anderson (Executive Chef of Elements), Scott Snyder (Executive Chef of Boulevard 572), Raj Dixit (Formerly Executive Chef of The Ryland Inn), Jehangir Mehta (Executive Chef of Metaphor and Runner up of Season 2 of The Next Iron Chef), and Anthony Bucco (Executive Chef of Uproot). The four judges were Doug Frost (Master Sommelier), Dennis Foy (Executive Chef of Foys), Ariane Daguin (Owner of D'argantan), and Peter Alexander (Master Sommelier).
Each chef had to prepare a dish with duck that paired with a specific wine.

Jesse Jones- Apricot Glazed Duck Breast with BBQ Duck Legs, Sweet Potato Puree, and Southern Braised Cabbage
 I though that this dish was my least favorite. First off looking at the dish it looked very sloppy. The duck was over cooked, and the sweet potato puree was cold and grainy. The cabbage was just average, not much flavor. Nothing special.

Scott Anderson- Roasted Duck Breast with Butternut Squash Puree, pluots, Spring Roll, and Geo duck
First off I was very excited to try Geoduck. I watched Scott Anderson break it down by peeling the skin off and then mincing he flesh. The Duck was cooked perfectly and the Spring Roll was very tasty. There was a minimal amount of Geoduck so I really did not taste it. This dish was the most beautiful to look at and was one of the most tasty as well.

Scott Snyder- Roasted Duck Breast with Confit Duck Leg, Cabbage, Sweet Potato Puree, Pistachio and Pickled Ginger, and Mission Figs
The Duck was cooked to perfection, it had a great crispy skin. The sweet potato was extraordinary, so rich and luscious. There was a Duck Jus that was just perfect. It was incredible. This dish was the best tasting out of all of the dishes, but looked a tad sloppy on the plate.

Raj Dixit- Smoked Duck with Local Plums, Genko Nuts, Young Ginger, and Black Truffle Eggs
This dish sounded delicious, but I was unable to try it because of the Genko Nuts.

Jehangir Mehta- Duck Portobello Gratinee, Mustard Emulsion
This dish was different from all of the others because there was no sweet fruit paired with the duck. First off this dish was very ascetic. The dish had great flavor and heat. It was the most original out of all of the dishes I tried and was one of the most flavorful.

Anthony Bucco- Roasted and Confit Long Island Duck with Espresso Liquid Gel, Golden Raisin Puree, and Local Apples and Beets
The duck was cooked beautifully. The duck was cured with coffee so the espresso liquid gel brought a nice coffee flavor out of the duck. The Raisin puree added a nice sweetness, and the apples and beets added a great freshness to the dish.

In my opinion the dish that tasted the best was Scott Snyder's, but I did not try Raj's dish and I did not try the dishes with the wine pairings. The judges selected Raj Dixit's dish as their favorite (Of course the only one I did not try). I loved the event and hope to come back next year and have some more delicious duck.

Nathan Myhrvold

Nathan who previously was the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft is coming out with a cookbook that is going to change the way everyone looks at food. It is going to cost alot, about $400, but it is going to be worth the price. Here is a video of him talking about the book. It is extremely interesting. Check it out.!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eataly is awesome!!

When I got to Eataly (after eating at Bar Boulud) there was line just to get into the store! Eataly is right next to Shake Shack and Eleven Madison Park. Batali and Bastianich vs. Danny Meyer and Daniel Humm. Who is going to win? I was wondering if I should even wait, but I decided to and am very happy that I did.  Eataly is massive. There is so much inside. The shellfish they had was absolutely stunning. They had live sea urchin, live prawns, razor clams, cockles, etc. There meat selection was also incredible. They had whole rabbits, quail, squab, sweet breads, tongue, livers, and ducks. The Salumeri looked incredible. They were prosciuttos, bresolas, hams, and salamis. They all looked ambrosial. The cheeses were also awesome. There were fresh mozzarellas, 36 month old aged parmesians wheels that smelt great. Then out in the open there about 20 BLACK TRUFFLES!! They were under a glass dome. I wish I could hasve smelt them. There was a pizza place that had two gold pizza ovens, like Donatella's new place. There was fresh pasta being made. There was a pasta restaurant and a fine dining restaurant by Lidia Bastianich. There was also a pastry and gelato shop that looked and smelt great.  I cannot wait to come back to Eataly hungry.

Bar Boulud Review

 After seeing Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Food Porn 2 (awesome show) I needed to go to Bar Boulud. I never had true charcuterie and I wanted to have it at its best. Anthony Bourdain said that he thought Daniel Boulud should be arrested (or rewarded) for his restaurant Bar Boulud being so out of place in America. When was Head Cheese being served or eaten in America? Also, one of the cooks at the restaurant I work at (Uproot in Warren, NJ) used to work at Bar Boulud and he highly recommended that I should go. After weeks of waiting, finally the day arrived.

It was a beautiful day in NYC and I arrived at Bar Boulud at about 12:10 for a 12:30 lunch reservation and I was ready to eat! We were seated and I ordered a sparkling hibiscus lemonade. At first I thought the lemonade was too tart, but then when I mixed it around the tartness subsided and the drink was very refreshing.

For my first course I got the fromage de Tete, or also known as head cheese. Head cheese is the meat of the head (cheek, ear, brain, sweet bread, etc.). Some people would consider this dish gross, but I think it is awesome. For people that are squeamish towards cheek, ear, brain, etc. don't be! First off if you are going to kill an animal, in respect you have to use every single part of the animal to honor it's life. Also, what is the difference between eating breasts or cheeks? They are just different parts of the body. But most importantly Offal tastes so good. When cooked properly it completely outshines the "accepted cuts" of meat.

Now back to the head cheese. It was served with whole grain mustard, whole grain bread, cornichons (baby pickles), pickled baby cipollini onions, and frisee. The mustard added a much needed acid to cut the richness of the luscious head meat. I thought the bread was cut a little too thick and it overpowered the headcheese's texture and flavor. If they sprinkled some fleur de sel on top of the terrine I believe it would have elevated the dish to a whole new level. Overall I loved the dish, but I think it could have been slightly better with a little more salt and thinner bread.

Bread service was great. A sliced baguette with rich, creamy butter was luxurious and rustic. I got a chocolate croissant which was light and flaky with intense dark chocolate chips. My dad got a cinnamon roll with walnuts and raisins, which he said was delicious, buttery and earthy.

Next our main courses arrived. I got a Boudin Blanc with potato puree, truffles, apples, and a pork demi glace. The sausage itself was super moist and delicious. The potato puree was extremely rich and a little bitter which was different, but fine. The sauce was perfect. It was the essence of pork with lots of roasted flavors. The apples added a nice acid and freshness to the dish. The only think that I did not like about the dish was how I tasted ZERO truffles. One of my pet peeves is when in the menu description it states truffles, but then there is no truffle taste. This happens a lot, even at great restaurants. When restaurants have cheap truffle dishes you know there has to be minimal amounts of the stuff because it is so damn expensive. I think that when restaurants serve truffles they should almost go overboard on them (and price them higher) so the customer gets the full experience and truly understands how truffles taste. I know they do this at The French Laundry and Per Se. Thomas Keller said that when he serves truffles and foie gras he always gives more than is needed because he wants his customers to be blown away buy the powers of these magnificent ingredients.  My dad got swordfish with roasted corn, rapini, haricot vert, and julienned carrots. My dad absolutely loved the dish. His dish was very beautiful to look at. He had no complaints.

For dessert I got g√Ęteau basque. This was a custard cake with brandied cherries and creme anglaise. Because of the almond flour in the custard cake, the whole dish had a comforting flavor of an amaretto cookie. The cherries cut through the fat and the sugar with their alcoholic notes.  This was a very tasty dessert.

After the food I asked if I could get a tour of the kitchen. The manager escorted me down and introduced me with the corporate chef and the chef de cuisine. The kitchen was much smaller than Del Posto's kitchen which was gigantic, but bigger than Uproot which is where I work at. Everything was running smoothly, it was an organized chaos. There were lots of cooks in a small cramp area. The whole experience was great and I wish to come back to Bar Boulud and try some blood sausage (which was not on the menu at the time).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bar Boulud and Summit Food and WIne Festival

I a m going to Bar Boulud today and will post a review with pictures (hopefully) soon. Also I recently went to the GAme showdown at the Summit FOod and Wine Festival where chefs had to make a duck dish that paired with wines. I have pictures from that event that should go up shortly and reviews on the dishes. SOrry I have been really busy.