Last night I burnt myself, to be expected considering it’s been 4 weeks and I haven’t hurt myself yet. We roasted a chicken and from the start I had a feeling it wasn’t going to end well. I mean it ended fantastic, it was cooked almost perfectly and the breast meat was still juicy and moist (a word that I think was overused during lecture yesterday). Let’s just say the bird had a better night than me – so to speak.
From the start I saw danger. We had to pan sear the chicken legs so that the leg meat had a longer cook time, which is required to make that meat tender and done at the same time the breasts are – it’s all about time and temperature control.
This process required us to clean and stuff the cavity with flavor, tie it up and then stick a big fork through its back in order to hold the chicken in the pan of hot butter to sear the legs, making sure not to color the breasts. Easier said than done. It looked easy when Chef J did it in class, but it was entirely different story when I was left to my own antics.
Let’s set the scene: there are eight students and three stoves so we are pretty close, and when you add in elbow room, some of us were squished with not a lot of space. I was sandwiched between another student and her hot, flaming pan and the stock boiler (which if you haven’t seen one, looks like a giant water heater). So with about two feet by two feet of space I had to keep my chicken on the big fork while searing only the legs – not an easy task but a few hot butter splatters later it was successfully accomplished. Time to roast it in the oven.
In the oven, we were suppose to check on it periodically. Oh it should be noted that in culinary school we use towels not potholders, usually not a problem. I placed my towel on the pan handle and then I realized that the chicken made the pan awkwardly heavy so I went to readjust my hand to be able to lift the pan up and out (it was at about eyesight height in the oven). As I went to grab the pan handle, the towel apparently did not adjust with me so I ended up grabbing the handle barehanded. OUCH.
After running the burn under cold water, it never stopped throbbing. It was early in the night so I knew I couldn’t wimp out and I needed to get back to my station to complete the list of required sides: rice pilaf, spinach and au jus. I did what any “tough” chef would do, I went to the medicine cabinet and put some burn relief goo on my hand, covered it with a bright blue band aide and a blue glove for the rest of the night. The blue really doesn’t allow you to hide the fact that you hurt yourself, so I wasn’t able to play it cool but that’s okay. Lesson learned – pans in the over are hot.