Imported Prosciutto di Parma from Italy – a whole leg!
Now that I’m officially on charcuterie, my schedule is a fairly consistent Tuesday through Saturday week. I like that because 1) I get Sundays off as originally hoped, 2) I get a “real weekend” of two days in a row off, and 3) I work the busiest nights of the week.
Today I was reminded again that you WANT to be scheduled to work on the busiest nights because it means that you are good, you can handle the rush, and you are needed. Service was quite slow today, and at one point, Chef decided to rearrange the schedule a bit. Fish Stage was awarded the opportunity to float between Pantry and Hot-Apps tomorrow, which is a big deal! I know he has been eager to move up in the ranks and I’m sure Chef can see his potential to grow as a line cook. Sassy Stage, on the other hand, had his days off switched around so that he gets Thursdays and Fridays off. Two of the three busiest nights. I feel bad for him and for what this schedule change implies, but at the same time, he does not seem to be learning as quickly as expected (not to mention he still talks back when given instructions…). We’ll see how THAT turns out.
Today was a busy day for me during prep, and it will continue this upcoming week. On Tuesdays, after being away from the kitchen for two days, I come back to discover a heavily depleted mise en place and no prep list or indication of what I should be doing. I counted the number of happy hour chicken liver mousse jars and noticed those were low so I started there. After consulting with Sous Chef J, I also sketched out a plan for this week — today I did the happy hour jars, deviled egg filling and egg whites, broke down a huge leg of prosciutto, diced pork butt to add to the marinating duck pate, and quartered my pickled cipollini onion garnish. Before I left, I also started an overnight confit of pork shanks in duck fat so I could render the drippings.
Melting down the duck fat for my confit
Tomorrow I will be braising the veal tongues that had been soaking in brine for the past two days, pressing and cooking off the duck pate, making two terrines of chicken liver mousse, and buttering one terrine that has been sitting in the walk-in. I may also start pickling a new batch of cipollini onions if I have time, and I’m hoping service is slow again so I can use that time to sous vide the potatoes for my next smoked salmon terrine – Thursday’s project. I hope to catch up by Friday so that Sous Chef S and I can start working on new recipes for salumis and rabbit mortadella as promised.
Charcuterie is considerably more work than Pantry — it requires more planning, it is teaching me to work more efficiently, and perhaps most dauntingly, the workload falls mainly on just one person (me). I am also doing something different every single day, although I do still have daily routine tasks such as slicing bread for toast, cutting salumis, picking chervil for garnish, etc. I enjoy the variety although it also makes me nervous right now because it’s my first time doing everything and I want to make sure I’m doing it correctly. (Singing Hot-Apps Guy has been a great resource for my many, many questions.)
I find that when I lie in bed at night, just before I fall asleep, I think (and sometimes worry) about the projects I have to work on the next day. But in a sense, I think it’s a good thing — it means that this station is truly my own and I worry because I care. I want to put out consistent, high quality products, and I want to make sure that I am caught up with my inventory. This is Chef’s pride and joy, after all, so my ability to execute is critical. I did make a pretty bad mistake today during service though — all of our terrines are wrapped in plastic wrap, and one slice that I had sent out had a teeny piece still stuck to it. He didn’t yell — he just told me to come over and he showed me the plastic. I was horrified and I think it showed in my face because he just told me to be more careful next time. I think he could tell that I was already disappointed in myself, so he graciously decided not to pile on (he does not often show such mercy to the rest of the guys). Sigh.
I had one Charc Board today and perhaps a dozen a la carte orders. I spent the rest of my time floating among the Cold Line. I help the Pantry boys with their first experience with 63 degree eggs. That’s right — we finally got a shiny new immersion circulator and the eggs on our caesar salads are BEAUTIFUL. I also helped Sous Chef J with Pastry. At one point, he decided to start taking inventory so he could get a head start on doing the orders; he poked his head around the corner to my station and said “[Matcha Bunny], for the next 20 minutes, you’re in charge of both Charcuterie and Pastry, okay?” On my watch, I got to complete an order of the doughnut dessert from start to finish! That was exciting — usually I just drop the doughnuts into the fryer, or push them around in the oil, or garnish the serving dish, or scoop the ice cream. I was so pleased with my finished product that I took a photo just before I placed it in the window for pickup.
Bourbon glazed doughnuts with orange curd and homemade vanilla ice cream
Anyway, time to get some rest for a long day tomorrow. Lots of work to be done – no rest for the wicked!