To be perfectly honest, I had my doubts about this semester. I was afraid it would be just like how last semester ended, a constant uphill battle against tiredness, dissipating passion, and social mistrust. But instead it's been amazing.
All of the second semester students (the combination of savory, pastry, and nightlab students) are divided into three rotations - main kitchen (campus cafeteria) with Chef Hammerich, meat lab with Chef Oakley, or Pierre Coste Room (on-campus fine dining restaurant) with Chef Ogden. I was assigned to the PCR with thirteen others, the majority of whom I've never worked with before.
One of the first things we did was to pick station assignments. To name them briefly there's amuse (appetizer), sandwich, salad, entremetier (vegetables for entrees), grill + sautee (hot line), and then soup and starches as support for the main kitchen. When it came time for me to pick, most of the stations were already taken so I just chose Student Chef - to start out the same way I started out last semester.
Besides coming early to set-up equipment and otherwise fetch/order materials, I also have the special task of doing all the butchering for the entrees. It's light butchering though, since I only have to cut meat into small portions - no bones and little blood, if any. I do have heavy butchering to look forward to, since we learn the bulk of cooking in this semester, and meat is an important part of that (hence the meat lab rotation!).
Note: This is also a warning to the squeamish, as I will be posting pictures of dead animal parts and people cutting into them.
The first thing I had to cut up was beef for beef medallions. Fairly easy, basically just slicing and trying to get each medallion to come out to 2.5 ounces. Two medallions make for a 5-ounce lunch portion.
Next up was lamb - cubed for a sautee/stew. These were cut on the same board because they're both red meat, but the lamb was done after the beef because the lamb has a distinct smell which we didn't want to cross over to the beef. This was also pretty easy, just had to make sure the sinew bits were cleaned off (since they can get chewy/tough when cooked).
Last was chicken breast for chicken paillard (aka scaloppini). The chicken was done on a different board due to its contaminatory nature (there's a reason you never order chicken medium rare). I measured them out to 6-ounce portions, and pounded them thin with a mallet. The pieces I had gotten from the meat lab were pretty thin already, so I didn't have to do much pounding. The next day they were thicker - actual breasts - and I butterflied them (slicing the thickness in half almost all the way and splaying it open) before pounding.
It looks like a heart!
The next post will show the dishes that these meats ended up going into, but till then I leave you a picture of my cohorts in meat lab. They're serious over there.