Cooking class lesson 2; chicken!
Today we had our second cooking class and the topic of today would be how to prepare chicken, how to recognize a good chicken and how to cut a chicken. Most people – including myself – only ever buy the chickenfilet you can find in the supermarket; easy to prepare and you don’t need to think about it. I do tend to buy biological food if I have the chance, but as I have complaint before the variety you can find in Almere is really not so good in terms of organic or biological food.
But anyway, Rob explained us the difference between a chicken raised in the bio-industrie (apparently 28 chickens are raised on 1 square meter, meaning that they cannot stand or walk. The chickens therefore do not have very long legs), EKO chickens (which do have room to walk around so the meat is a little more red from muscles plus the chicken itself is slightly older and therefore bigger and has longer legs, a guinea fowl, another chicken which I can’t fully remember what it was called and the rolls royce under the chickens which is also sold with the insides still there and the head attached. You can easily identify that one from the photo above.
The first thing we had to do was to prepare a quail each. Remove 2/3 of the wings, remove the legs (and keep separate), remove the spine and if you did it right you were left with a little carcas that could still support itself. That went on the tray to be further prepared later, while we continued to prepare the chicken legs. Regular cheap chicken where we had to remove the hipbone and the upper leg bone as well as cut the flesh loose around the lower leg but keep the last bone in. This was then filled with the filling we made ourself first, wrapped in net which you can see on the photo where I am doing it. It’s a part of the abdominal membrane (not sure if that is the right translation) and basically prevents the chicken from bursting open if you bake it in a hot oven. That means that your filling can be a bit more fluid
although you can also wrap it tightly with a rope if you prefer that. The fat in the membrane shrinks around the chicken making a tight wrapping sort of… Not sure if I explain this right, but that is more or less what happens.
Now once that was done we prepared the quail legs and the quail body’s in a pan for further use and in the meantime the next task was (after making the filling for the legs) to prepare some of the whole chickens. The cheaper chickens you can spice up by rubbing any nice seasoning under the skin before you put it in the oven, the ‘better’ chickens have more flavor anyway so those you can prepare in various ways. Tom stuffed one of the chickens just with salt and pepper (I think he did the eko chicken) and once it was done in the oven it was just simply delicious! So much flavor and such a huge difference with the “supermarket” chicken (for lack of a better word) Now the photo of Tom with his hand in the behind of the chicken… haha… I just had to laugh out loud when I just downloaded the photos on my computer. he really looks like he is enjoying himself right? 🙂
All the meat (with the exception of the quail legs which where put into a pan with some broth to cook for a while untill the sauce thickened to make a nice gravy) was put in the oven and in the meantime we had to show Rob how we made an omelette…. Not hard to guess that we didn’t do such a good job to make a real proper french omelette which is still soft and moist on the inside but with a lovely taste and proper egg taste as well. I think we more or less all made the same mistakes, but Rob showed us how to do it the proper way so going forward… we will all be making lovely fluffy eggs..:) It’s a pity I have to work tomorrow morning, otherwise I am sure I would have given it a try..
We were also shown some good old fashioned vegetables that are slowly coming back into fashion here lately such as parsnip, parsley root, pumpkin and a few I wouldn’t know how to translate the names (or ok, I admit it; I forgot their names completely… even in dutch!)
I had never eaten parsnip before and it’s slightly sweet or at least sweeter then a regular carrot, but I think it could be a nice vegetable if I can come up with a good way to prepare it… Tips and suggestions are ofcourse welcome!
In the meantime the chickens were ready and Rob showed us how you cut a grilled chicken into the various parts such as the breast, legs and remove the spine again.
Then Tom was brave enough to want to cut a chicken himself and while it looks so easy when Rob does it… it turned out to be more difficult then he had though it would be. So he did two…:)
As I said; huge difference in taste between the various chickens, so it was good to be able to taste and see the difference in the product. Most of the chicken was wrapped up for the various students to be brought home including some broth so that we can prepare our own sauces and enjoy the chicken. Overall it was a great learning experience again and Tom and I have already discussed to try and pay more attention to quality of the product, visit more markets and to be more aware of what it is you’re actually eating.
Next week the topic will be meat and to be honest – I am not sad that we will not be disecting an entire cow…:)