Tonight was the night that we all have been working towards for the past 5 weeks...it was the night we cooked our final dishes. I have mixed feelings about it, I feel good about how I did, but I also feel like if I were on Chopped, I would have, well, been Chopped. I made some really dumb mistakes, or not so much mistakes, but I did not think to fix a few issues. And what is worse, is that I had plenty of time to make adjustments. But I know that I did the best that I could, and I had fun doing it, and I did turn out some pretty nice dishes, so I guess I am a happy girl.
Last night we had our ACF test in butchering a whole chicken. It is a timed test in which you get 15 minutes to butcher a chicken, and turn out 10 nice cuts. I started off slowly, trying to get the wishbone out, when after a few minutes I realized that I had the chicken upside down. Duh! As soon as I got that right, it was pretty smooth cutting, but time was running out. Chef called out we had 5 minutes left, and a wave of panic suddenly came over me, then it quickly left. I knew I could finish in time. So I keep working, and Chef calls one minute, I count my cuts and realize I only have 8 cuts done. Luckily, I quickly realize that all I had forgotten was to take the tenderloin off of the breasts. I rip those off with my hand, and done! Chef rings the bell (he loves that bell!!). Whew! I made it.
One of tonight's final dishes was to use part of our chicken from last night. Chef gave us culinary freedom to chose our own chicken dish, so long as it has the 5 components: Protein, Vegetable, Starch, Sauce, Garnish. Knowing that we only had 45 minutes to complete that dish, I decided to do a Chicken Piccata, Mashed Potatoes, Beurre Blanc Sauce, Asparagus, and a fried tomato skin for garnish (thanks to Chef Dan for that beautiful idea!).
Our second final dish was given by drawing numbers out of a hat, er, bowl. Originally I wanted the Veal Cordon Bleu, because mine came out really nicely last time, but I drew the Salmon Paupiettes, which is actually a really great dish.
So it all came down to tonight, Chef rang the bell (I think he rang the bell?!), and we were off. I got a lot of things started right away, for both of my dishes. I didn't want to be stuck later. And things were going great, I was having fun and enjoying all of the aspects of my dishes. By the time Chef called out that we had five minutes left, I had almost everything ready for my first dish, and a few things done or prepped for my second dish, but I did not have my Beurre Blanc Sauce made. Shoot!! I quickly get that going, and crank up the heat. The wine reduces and I start adding the butter, it is coming together nicely! Yay. Chef calls one minute, shoot, I need to start plating. I grab the now incredibly hot plate from the oven, throw the asparagus and red pepper down, next the chicken cutlets, throw some sauce on it, and pipe out my lovely mashed potatoes, omg, and don't forget the pretty little fried tomato skin. Voila! Chef was happy with my dish and had some wonderful things to say about it :)
Ok now on to finishing my second dish, although, I thought we had way too much time. An hour and 15 minutes to finish the second dish. And since I had already done a number of things for this dish, I was a bit lax about it, which I think fared worse for me. My quinoa was done, and I put my salmon on, I did some cleaning, I poached some little Mousseline quenelles (another of Chef Dan's great ideas!), and things are coming together quickly. I start to reduce the poaching sauce and of course, wouldn't ya know, it gets too thick. I had to add water to it at first, and it was beautiful for a minute, seasoned perfectly. But it kept thickening back up. I decide to just go for it and start plating. I put the sauce on the plate first, and it''s thick. Too thick. Poop! I keep plating, and serve it. Looking back, I definitely could have fixed it, as there was at least 10 minutes left on the clock. Ah well. And I lost points for not having a second colored veggie on the plate, I knew better, and what kills me is that I had more red pepper sitting in the pan and simply did not put it on the plate. Geesh. At least I got one perfect dish in tonight's finals, and I had a really fun night of cooking. Now I am going to go snuggle up with a nice glass of Shiraz and forget about my lost points. Till next time....
Plate 1 - Chicken Piccata, Chive Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus and Red Pepper, Beurre Blanc Sauce with Capers, Fried Tomato Skin. Plate 2 - Salmon Paupiettes with Bronzini Mousseline, Fish Fumet Sauce, Quinoa Pilaf, Asparagus, and Mousseline Quenelles.