My First Braise

The Garden at the Restaurant

The Garden at the Restaurant

Yesterday (Thursday) was another cleaning-heavy day. We all, Chef included, pitched in to scrub down the kitchen from floor to ceiling. I even hopped onto the 6 ft ladder to clean the ventilation fan and the tiles over the doorway. Lots of soap and grout spray all around, and about nearly two hours of our day before we finally started actually working with food.

Today I set up my pig head braise for the headcheese terrine. It’s my first one, though I had seen the Hot-Apps guys doing similar braises before. First I sweated the braising vegetables (leeks, carrots, onions, celery) down with some aromatics (orange peels, peppercorns, coriander, thyme, rosemary) in a giant rondeau. I turned the heat down low and let it do its thing for nearly an hour, coming back periodically to stir. When it was ready, I deglazed with white wine and white wine vinegar and cooked off the alcohol before transferring the veg to the walk-in for later. Meanwhile, my brined pigs heads were rinsing under cool water for about an hour or two before I nestled them over the bed of vegetables.

After service, which was slower than the day before but not nearly as bad as Tuesday, I topped off my 600 pan of vegetables and pig’s head with water and brought it to a boil. Carefully moving the very heavy, very hot pan to a borrowed corner of Pastry Girl’s table, I covered the pan in 20 layers of plastic wrap followed by one layer of aluminum foil. This whole arrangement goes into the oven at 225 degrees overnight.

We use the same method for lamb and pork shanks and other cuts of meat that benefit from low and slow cooking. I can’t wait to see how my braise turns out when I come in today!

Service was unremarkable aside from a visit from my dear friend H! She was here on a girls’ night with friends and even though she was dining with pescatarians, she made sure to order something from my station (the one thing they could eat — the smoked salmon terrine!). I sent out a dessert for them and got to say hi before they left. It was really nice to see her and to hear about how happy they were with their meal :) YAY!

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