First I’d like to congratulate all of my classmates for passing Level 1 – we worked hard, and helped each other through! Next day, we immediately jumped into Level 2.

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Last week we applied some of the recipes and cooking methods we learned in Level 1 (dry cooking, wet cooking, mixed cooking) with some proteins we’ve worked with before such as chicken and lamb, as well as new proteins like rabbit and venison. Yes, I said rabbit.

For those who are scratching their heads – dry cooking method refers to grilling, sautéing, baking, roasting, broiling and deep frying; wet cooking is boiling, simmering and poaching; and lastly, mixed cooking methods include braising and stewing. The type of protein and overall idea of the dish you are working with will mostly like determined the type of cooking method you use. However, most proteins can be cooked a variety of ways, for example, chicken. Chicken can be cooking using many techniques – personally I prefer a dry cooking method where you pan-sear the chicken on all sides to get a nice crispy skin and finish it in the oven. Another example is vegetables. Some like to boil their veggies, others like to grill or sauté them.

We practiced trussing a chicken like we did in Level 1. I think I’m starting to get good at this. Then we browned the chicken on all sides and put it in the oven.

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I’ve never worked with venison before. Venison is the meat of game animal, usually dear. This we also browned on all sides and then finished it in the oven.

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Next day, we worked with veal and short ribs – yum! For both sauces, the recipe called for flour. As many of you know, flour is often used as a binding agent for sauces. Since I’m allergic to all-purpose flour, I decided to experiment with rice flour so I could taste, season, and eat my dish. The first dish we made Blanquette De Veau A L’Ancienne, Riz Pilaf (Veal Blanquette with Rice Pilaf) I made my sauce a little too thick. It’s funny because I was afraid my sauce wouldn’t thicken with the rice flour roux, but it ended up being too thick! With that in mind, I worked more carefully on my second dish (short ribs) and the sauce came out perfect (not pictured here). Wohoo, it worked and I got to each the whole thing.

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Major proteins were the topic on Friday: flat fish, round fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, quail, beef, veal, pork, lamb, venison, hares, and rabbits. My partner Mike and I had a great day making the two recipes: Braised Lamb Shank and Rabbit Ragout with Veggies and Pommes Puree. Both cooking methods were the same.

First saute your meat to get brown on all sides, then remove from the pan. In the same pan, add your vegetables (called mirepoix) and slightly brown. Next, deglaze with your wine. Reduce, then add your meat back in the pan along with your stock. Bring to a boil, cover with a parchment top and finish in the oven! Once the meat is done, you remove it from the pan and let it rest. You strain the liquid to remove some of the fat and all of the mirepoix. Then you turn that liquid into your sauce. Pretty cool right?

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Until next week friends!