Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Knife and Preparation Skills Class Part II

So I had my second class(out of 2) in the Knife Skillz Class last night, and it was actually better than I expected. He even forgot the meat (pork tenderloin, chicken) and spent a lot of time cutting up stuff for fruit salad, which interests me roughly negative infinity... and I still got a lot out of it. I specifically asked him about dicing tomatoes, since I had so much trouble with coring, seeding, and dicing them with my No-cook pasta sauce last week, and luckily that was part of the lesson plan.

He showed us tons of ways to cut tomatoes, but unless you're going for the whole slice (or wedges) of tomato in something, I can't really think of a time when you want the gunk and seeds in whatever you are cooking. His technique gives you pure tomato flesh without the hassle of squishing out tomato seeds by hand, which leaves you a pulpy mess before you even get to the cutting. Unfortunately, I cannot find an online example of the it... but essentially, you cut off the top and bottom, as per usual, and then make a a vertical slice through skin and flesh but not any deeper... then you sort of roll it out while cutting around the core, so you have this big long strip of tomato flesh bereft of seeds and core. I doubt that was a very clear explanation, but since (even though I specifically asked about it!) he didn't give me an opportunity to try(there were limited tomatoes and there are roughly 1 million ways to cut them), maybe I can document my attempts at the technique as I muddle through it in the future. I'm definitely a fan of it though.

The thing he had me try was this:

Which I'll freely admit is pretty cool, but I'm not sure how often I'm really going to need to make tomato concasse. But, hey, now I know... and so do you.

I'll use a second Chef Jean Pierre video to show what was basically the rest of the class:

He's a little hardcore about getting all the white stuff out, which we weren't (and I won't be in the future)... also, that is not a julienne... at least according to Lars(teh Chef)... a julienne is a specific cut and it doesn't mean "cutting into thin strips before a dice" (what I thought it meant). A julienne cut would be thinner and shorter... matchstick size... and matchsticks are not as big as your finger. I think the idea was that if you're making crudités for your cocktail party, you are NOT julienning and HOW DARE YOU!? even imply such a thing. Chefs are weird.

But anyway, the inverse of that is how you do fruit with a hard exterior (melons and the like). You do essentially the same thing, but the parts you keep and throw away are opposite.

Otherwise it was just: cut it into slices, slices into strips, strips into dice. I found carrots to be a strangely satisfying thing to dice... perhaps because I was afraid of them before... but I think I'm going to need to find an excuse to dice more of them.