In Unit 11: Dry-Heat Cooking Methods, much to my shagrin, I learned that dry heat cooking methods encompass many of the most common cooking methods–from pan frying and sautéing to shallow and deep frying. I learned the proper way to pan fry, sauté, sear, stir fry, and sweat. And I even got to try my hand at pan tossing. This has proven to be something that I will have to master over time with practice.
The first graded assignment in this unit involved pan frying. I chose to make Pommes Parisienne–adorable rounds of potato fried in a pan. This proved to be a challenging assignment due to technical errors. In order to make the Pommes Parisienne, I had to set out a large bowl full of cold water. I then peeled about 3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (as I was only making a 1/2 recipe). I then began the process of melon balling the potatoes and putting the spheres into another bowl of cold water. Less than half way in, my melon baller broke so I had to hand cut the rest of the balls; this did increase the prep time quite a bit. Once I finally finished, I got out the fry pan, tongs, paper towels, salt, pepper, and ghee to complete my mise en place.
To start pan frying, I turned on the burner to medium-high. While the pan was heating up, I drained and dried the potatoes. I added the ghee to the pan. Once melted, I added the potatoes and stirred to coat the potatoes. I continued cooking for about 14 minutes. I took one ball out at this point and tested it for doneness as the outsides were golden. They were not done, so I turned down the heat and continued cooking for approximately 5 minutes on medium-low. I tested again and they were done. I then sprinkled with salt and pepper, tossed, and tasted again for correct seasoning. I then added a bit more salt, transferred to a bowl, and put in my warming oven as the Pommes Parisienne were to be part of a composed dish that I was still working on.
The completed Pommes Parisienne were lightly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. At first, I thought about adding more items to the dish but in the end the lack of ingredients allowed the potato to shine. If making again, I would buy a new, stronger melon baller so that the task of hand carving the spheres was not so time-consuming! I think it would also be interesting to par-boil the potatoes and then pan-fry to see how different the end dish would be in terms of taste and texture. My initial thought is that the structural integrity of the balls might be affected, but it would be fun to see what happened.
Another graded assignment in this unit involved sautéing. I chose to make Sautéed Mushrooms. To cook the mushrooms, once the pan was hot, I added the oil and butter. After melting, I added the mushrooms, salt, and squeezed the lemon over taking care not to drop any seeds. I continued to cook over high heat for approximately 5 minutes. I took the opportunity to practice my pan tossing as I was sautéing the mushrooms in hopes of helping them color evenly. I was mostly successful, but did lose a mushroom or two in the beginning as I was gaining more confidence. In the middle of the cooking process, I decided to add a bit of shallot and continued cooking the mushrooms until golden brown. I tasted for seasoning; adding a bit more salt and some pepper. I then transferred the mushrooms to a dish and put in my warming oven to use in a composed dish I was still working on. While looking at the color of the mushrooms was a definite hint on them being done, the fact that all the moisture had evaporated was also telling. In the end though, the best way to know that they were done was to taste them. They were were tender and succulent without being mushy. They had a meaty quality about them without a fiber-like texture.
After completing the mushrooms, I seared some filet on both sides, put into the oven until it reached an internal temp of 135 F, took out, tented, and used the sucs to make a pan sauce with the sautéed mushrooms, more shallots, stock, and a pat of butter. It all came together with the pommes parisienne. Really nice meal.