FOR THE NEXT 14 MONTHS I AM TAKING YOU ON A JOURNEY....A JOURNEY WHICH PROMISES TO HAVE IT'S UPS AND DOWNS....LIKE A KNIFE THROUGH A CARROT, MORE LIKE LOTS OF CARROTS.
I had the same feelings as my first day of school when I was a kid, only this time I had a chef's uniform in my backpack and a train to catch. But those same anxious feelings were still there, the butterflies and all. And then we stepped into the classroom....but this classroom is a kitchen. All those butterflies flew out the door and we were on our way.
Taillage (TAH-YAJ) is the practice of cutting vegetables into uniform shapes and sizes. This is done for two reasons: To ensure even an even cooking rate and for visual appeal. This is all about repetition, the more you perform these cuts the better you will get.
Here are some examples of my "homework"...
The carrots are tough, it's like they have a mind of their own. They bend....right at the moment you want to get that straight cut.
Notice the size reference...we are talking mm and cm here!
To some it may seem boring or mundane, I admittedly thought so in the very beginning. But then I realized they were not doing this to punish us. The chef instructors are laying the foundation for success in the form of carrot and turnip "bricks". It is not easy and I am far from perfect with the cuts, but I know the more we practice the better we will get!
We also learned two techniques:
A L'ANGLAISE, which involves cooking the vegetables ahead of time for reheating at time of service.
A L'ETUVEE, which is to cook the vegetables to order.
Stay tuned for next week!