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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Amouse Bouche

The amouse bouche, sometimes referred to as a gift from the chef, is typically a one bite complimentary first course that awakens your palette and sets the tone for the upcoming meal. A couple of weeks ago I confronted my Chef at Uproot Restaurant and asked him if I could make the amouse bouche for the evening. He gave me the green light and my creative juices started to flow. I was handed over jumbo lump crab meat to use as the main component for my plate. Right as I received the crab meat I noticed one of the cooks fabricating chicken, which sparked my idea for the amouse: Crab and Corn Salad dressed with a "Ranch Aioli", confit cherry tomato, crispy chicken skin, and pickled snap peas.

First, I made the ranch aioli by adding 2 cloves of minced garlic, lemon juice, and 3 egg yolks to a robot coute. I blended that mixture together and slowly added canola oil until a perfect emulsion was formed. Next, I mixed the aioli with sour cream, a little milk, and a ranch spice blend that I learned from the Ideas in Food Cookbook. Finally, I added lemon zest, some more lemon juice, and more salt to the dressing until it was just right.

Now it was time for the cherry tomatoes and snap peas. A quick trick I learned for peeling cherry tomatoes is to fry them for 10-20 seconds and then quickly dump then in ice water. The skin peels right off with great ease and efficiency. Then, I mixed the peeled and halved tomatoes with lemon zest, garlic, shallots, thyme, olive oil, and salt. I roasted the sweet beauties in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the garlic and shallots were browned. Simultaneously, I blanched and shocked the snap peas and then later on split them so the peas revealed themselves. Ultimately, I marinated the snap peas in lemon, salt, and a little olive oil.

Everyone knows the best part about chicken is the crispy skin. Rich, flavorful, and crisp - when prepared right it will never fail to please. To begin with, I made a cure for the skin, which consisted of salt, sugar, pepper, thyme, lemon zest, and some hard spices. I did not have much time so I only cured the skin for a couple hours and then rinsed and dried it. The next step was to cook the chicken skin in 180 degree duck fat for about one hour. Later, to order, I would fry the pieces of chicken skin. It was cool to watch the skin fry because they would puff up like chicharones.

I plated an amouse for the chef to try and he loved it, which made me feel great. In the center of the plate went a piece of dressed crab and some corn kernels. Then, to the right went a cherry tomato, and to the left when a snap pea. The finishing touch was the crispy skin that was arranged on top. There were many very positive comments from the customers on my amouse, some people even asked for seconds! 

Sorry for the bad picture, it actually looked really good