Ingredients

How To Clean, Blanch & Prep Baby Carrots



This video will teach you how to properly prepare baby carrots.


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How To Slice Celery | Video Technique



In this video, learn how to slice and dice celery.

This post is part of our ongoing Culinary Knife Skills Video Series, which teaches you a wide array of knife skills used in professional kitchens. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.
 

How To Cut A Cucumber | Video Technique



In this video, you will learn a couple different techniques for seeding, slicing and dicing an English Cucumber.

This post is part of our ongoing Culinary Knife Skills Video Series, which teaches you a wide array of knife skills used in professional kitchens. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.
 

How To Prepare Fava Beans | Video Technique



Blanching and peeling fava beans is a spring "right of passage" for many cooks. Labor intensive and somewhat time consuming, when prepped properly you're rewarded with meaty little green morsels that are well worth the work.

Also known as broad beans or horse beans, favas are only available for one to two months during spring. Because they have such a short season, you'll find chefs prepping and gorging, in that order, as much as they can before the season ends. Favas are widely used in European, Mediterranean and sometimes Asian Cuisine. They're also widely grown in California which makes them hard to ignore if you live on the west coast.

In early spring, "fava greens" (the actual leaves) are tender and full of fresh fava flavor. They can be treated much like a hearty spinach; served raw in salads, blanched, baked or wilted into a sauté.


How To Peel, Prep And Blanch Fava Beans

  • Fava beans come in large, oversized pods also known as husks. The first step is to remove the individual beans by opening the seam that runs the length of the fava pod. Later in the season, there's a fiber that runs along this seam that is sturdy enough to pull, making this step more efficient.

  • On younger favas, use a sharp paring knife to make a shallow slice along the same seam.

  • Once open, remove the fava beans from the pod and blanch in boiling, salted water. This will help loosen the tough skin that encases the meaty flesh.

  • Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes then shock in an ice bath until thoroughly chilled.

  • Once the fava beans have cooled, it's time to start the "picking process;" every cook's favorite job. Start by ripping a hole in one end of the skin then squeezing the opposite end with your other hand. When done correctly, the fava will pop right out.

  • Speed Tip: To increase your peeling speed, gather up a large amount of fava beans in your dominate hand. Pinch each fava between your thumb and index finger, using your other hand to rip a hole in the skin while you  squeeze the fava, popping it loose.

I've Got Prepped Fava Beans....Now What?

Once the favas have been blanched and peeled, the fun part really begins. Favas have a meaty yet tender texture that is unique only to them. Their green, slightly mineral taste just screams spring. They're also known to taste much better if you didn't actually prep them yourself.

Early this spring we did a Fava Pizza that combined fresh beans, greens and pecorino. The fava greens were placed on the crust with the beans, pecorino and raw tomato sauce lightly sprinkled on top. The pizza was cooked at around 850-900°F in our wood burning oven. The intense heat cooks the pizza in less then 90 seconds, first wilting and intensifying the flavor of the greens, then slightly charring them right before it's pulled from the oven.

Another dish recently served at Stella was our crispy trotter terrine with sautéd favas, wilted frisée and a simple pan reduction. The saltiness of the cured trotter paired nicely with fresh favas. Wilted frisée adds just enough bite to bring the other flavors into focus. 

Here are a few more tried and true flavor pairings to help get you going.

 

  • For a Mediterranean inspired meal, try serving roasted rack of lamb with fava beans sautéd in a little garlic and olive oil. Right before you serve, transfer the hot favas to a mixing bowl and add a little Greek Yogurt, a dab of honey and some mint chiffonade. Season with some fresh cracked black pepper and finish with a pan reduction sauce that uses a good aged sherry vinegar for your acid component.

  • Pan roasted duck breast and sautéd favas seasoned with walnut oil and orange zest. Finish with a knob of fresh butter and a pinch of finely minced sage.

  • If you want to feature fava beans as a dish unto themselves, try sautéing with whole butter and thinly sliced shallots. When the favas are nice and warm, finish with a shot of balsamic vinegar and then garnish with shaved pecorino, prosciutto and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Further Information

External Resources



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How To Butcher A Beef Tenderloin | Video Technique



In this video, you'll learn how to quickly and efficiently break down a beef tenderloin, resulting in the fabrication of beef filets. These filets are commonly referred to as "Filet Mignon," but technically speaking, the "Mingnon" only comes from the bottom tail portion and is normally cut 1-2" thick. When fabricating larger steaks, "filet of beef" is the more appropriate term. For more information about the beef tenderloin itself, please see below.


Beef Tenderloin: The Sirloin's Lazy Cousin

Located in the back quadrant of the animal just below the sirloin and above the top sirloin, the tenderloin itself is extremely tender because the muscle has a very minimal work load.

To put this into perspective, let's talk real quick about the major muscles that support our tasty, four-legged friends: the shoulders, arms and legs. Fabricated cuts taken from these regions (chuck, brisket, shank & round), contain much more connective tissue and myoglobin.

Extra connective tissue, which is mainly collagen, requires a long, slow cooking process such as braising or slow roasting. This "low and slow" technique will "unravel" the collagen's triple helix, resulting in three separate gelatin strands. Since the collagen has dissolved, it's no longer holding the muscle fibers together, resulting in a texture commonly referred to as "falling off the bone tender."

Conversely, the rib, shortloin and tenderloin do less work, making them more tender cuts of meat with very little connective tissue. This allows for fast and hot cooking methods like searing, pan roasting or grilling. These cuts are generally best served with an internal temp of mid-rare or below (135ºF/57ºC).

However, because these muscles are "lazy", they also contain less myoglobin. Myoglobin is responsible for temporarily storing oxygen delivered by hemoglobin and distributing that oxygen to fat oxidizing proteins like cytochromes. This is important because myoglobin also contains lots of flavor.

In general, the more a muscle is used, the tougher and more flavorful it becomes. The opposite is also true, especially for the laziest muscle in the animal's body, the tenderloin. While it's extremely tender, it contains less myoglobin and therefore less flavor. The reason why people enjoy filet so much is because they equate tenderness with flavor, when really they are two different things.

This is why it doesn't make sense to eat filet of beef at a temperature above medium (135º-145ºF/60ºC). At 140ºF/60ºC, muscle fibers start to tighten and extrude their juices, making them tough and chewy. I know that there are some people out there that absolutely insist on eating their steaks above medium, and my heart goes out to you, it really does. But if you're one of those people who must have a mid-well steak, buy a flat iron or skirt steak and cook the hell out of it. It's at least half the price of a tenderloin, and once you cook a filet of beef above medium, it may as well be a skirt steak anyways.

Bottom line, people eat filet for its texture, and for a chef, it's a blank canvas on which you can paint many different flavors. For me, I prefer to pan roast my filet to mid-rare. While I'm letting it rest, I use the left-over juices and fat to make a pan reduction sauce. Finish with some fleur de sel, fresh cracked black pepper and a side of your choice.

Do you enjoy eating filet of beef? How do you like it prepared and served? Let me know in the comment section below.

This post is part of our ongoing Culinary Knife Skills Video Series, which teaches you a wide array of knife skills used in professional kitchens. For more information, you can also view our How To Cook Video Index.
 

How To Make Sauce Espagnole

Sauce Epsagnole is one of the Five French Mother Sauces, and is the classical precursor to modern day sauces such as Demi-Glace. It goes great with any sort of roasted red meat, and is the base for many popular classic French Sauces including Sauce Robert and Sauce Bordelaise, (see below).

Before we get into how to make Sauce Espagnole, first, a little clarification about Demi-Glace.

Classical demi glace is one part Brown Sauce (Espagnole) and one part Brown Stock (Such as Roasted Veal Stock), combined in a pot and reduced by half. However, modern day menus that list a “Demi-Glace” as their sauce are usually referring to a stock that has been reduced by at least half, or until it coats the back of a spoon. The gelatin contained in the stock itself is what thickens the sauce. No other thickening agent such as roux is used.

Modern chefs prefer “full reduction” sauces over a classical demi-glace because they have a much more intense flavor, and the classical thickening agent of a roux makes the sauce heavy and effects its taste.

Recipe For Classical Sauce Espagnole (Brown Sauce)

  • Mirepoix: 4 oz/112g onions, 2 oz/56g celery, 2 oz/56g carrots
  • 2 oz/56g butter
  • 2  oz/56g flour
  • 2 oz/56g Tomato Puree
  • Sachet Containing: 1/2 Bay Leaf, 2-3 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme, 2-3 Sprigs Parsley
  • 1.5-2 qts/1.5-2L  Roasted Veal Stock
  1. Start by roasting your mirepoix over medium heat, in the bottom of a heavy bottom sauce pot with the butter, until the mirepoix turns a nice golden brown.
  2. Once your mirepoix has browned, add in your tomato puree and continue roasting for 2-3 more minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in your flour, and cook until the flour is well incorporated into the other ingredients (about 5 more minutes).
  4. Add your roasted veal stock and sachet.
  5. Bring to a simmer, and gently simmer for about 2 hours, reducing the entire sauce down to 1qt/L. If necessary, add more stock if too much evaporates during the cooking process. Skim sauce as needed.
  6. Tip: While simmering your sauce, pull it half way off the burner, so that all the scum will collect on one side of the pot, making it easier to skim.
  7. Once your sauce is finished cooking, pass it through a fine chinois a couple of times to insure a smooth, consistent texture.

Secondary Sauces (Derivatives) Made From Espagnole

Classical Demi-Glace

  • Combine Sauce Espagnole and Roasted Veal Stock at the Ratio of 1:1, and reduce by half.
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer (chinois).

Sauce Bordelaise

To yield 1 qt/L combine in a sauce pan:

  • 1 cup/236ml red wine
  • 2 oz/56g chopped shallots
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 a bay leaf

Reduce these ingredients by half, and then stir in 1 qt of demi-glace (see above) and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Strain through a chinois and then finish by swirling in 2 oz of raw butter. Sauce Bordelaise was traditionally garnished with diced bone marrow that had been poached in salted water.

Sauce Robert

To yield 1 qt/L:

  • Sweat 4oz/112g of diced white onion with some butter over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes, or until soft and tender.
  • Deglaze with 1 cup/236ml of dry white wine, and reduce by two-thirds.
  • Add in 1 qt/L of demi glace and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Strain sauce through a chinois and finish with 2 teaspoons of dry mustard, a pinch of sugar, and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.
  • Check seasoning for salt and pepper.

Further Information
 

 

How To Render Duck Fat

In SCS Episode 8, one of the main techniques that we discussed was confit. One thing we discussed is that when making duck confit, true duck fat is always preferable. Not only does the fat give great flavor to your duck, but its also an extremely versatile cooking medium that can be used for slow poaching, sauté ing or even frying.

When butchering a whole duck, save all the skin trimmings especially the large pieces that are taken from the neck and the flaps of skin at the opening of the cavity. Don’t forget to trim all the skin off of the back of the duck.

If you’re not breaking down the whole duck, try and sweet talk a local butcher into saving the skin for you. If all this sounds like too much of a pain, you can simply buy good quality duck fat online. I've never done this so I can't recommend one company over another, but I'm sure you can do a quick Google or Amazon search.

  • Place all your duck skin trimmings in the bottom of an appropriate sized pot and add a couple tablespoons of water. The steam from the water will help the initial release of duck.
  • Place the pot on the lowest setting on your stove top and cover with a lid. Make sure you keep a small crack in the lid for the steam to escape so that it doesn’t condense back down into your duck fat.
  • Let the fat render out on the stove for about 2-3 hours depending on how low you have your flame. Be sure to give the fat a good stir with some tongs about every 1/2 hour.
  • Once the fat is rendered out, strain it through a strainer and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, store the fat in an airtight, light resistant container in your refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.
  • By the way, don’t throw that duck skin away after you have rendered out the fat. Instead, spread them out on a sheet pan and bake until they become golden brown and crispy.
  • These duck “cracklins” can be eaten like chips, chopped and tossed into a salad like bacon bits, or used to make cracklin’ corn bread. The possibilities are endless.
Further Information
 
 

SCS 16| Composed Salads

Smoked Salmon



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In this episode, we bring our salad series full circle and talk about how to create a composed salad using proper flavor structure and contrasting components. In the culinary quick tip, how to candy nuts!

 

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SCS 15| Classic Salads





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In this episode of The Stella Culinary School Podcast, we continue our Garde Manger Course with a lesson on creamy and emulsified salad dressing, and talk about some classic salads such as the Caesar, Cobb and Louis.

Links For This Episode

 

For our complete list of audio lectures you can view The Stella Culinary School Podcast Index. For a list of video techniques, please visit our How To Cook Video Index. You can also subscribe to the Stella Culinary School Podcast feed through traditional RSS or iTunes.

 

 

SCS 14| Salad Greens & Dressings




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In this episode of the Stella Culinary School Podcast, we start a four part series on basic Garde Manger, also known as the "cold kitchen". In the discussion segment, we talk about flavor structure and how it applies to making your own mixed greens. In the technique segment, we go over the building blocks of a vinaigrette, including the science behind vinegar, and why it's so important in flavor extractions. Then, in the culinary quick tip, how to properly wash and store your salad greens.


Links For This Episode

 

For our complete list of audio lectures you can view The Stella Culinary School Podcast Index. For a list of video techniques, please visit our How To Cook Video Index. You can also subscribe to the Stella Culinary School Podcast feed through traditional RSS or iTunes.

 

 
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