Ballymaloe Day 8: Chicken you believe it?

As Darina dropped the seasoning into the avocado, she exclaimed an amusing “oh crikey!”

Turns out she had added sugar instead of salt to her dish and quickly lashed on the Maldron sea salt. It’s funny that sometimes you forget that these things happen even to the most experienced of cooks.

My order of work today had me down as finishing at about 11.00am but as I sauntered into the kitchen and stared at the mounting ingredients on my table, I realised that that probably wasn’t going to be the case.

There are approximately 25 people whizzing around Kitchen 3 on a cooking day, and battling for space, ovens and ingredients can be tricky at times.

For those who’ve worked in a kitchen or are planning to – you’ll quickly learn the joys of having to get things out of the cold room. After sweating about half your body weight, the delight that it brings, gives me the chills.

On the pursuit of purée for my soup, I happened across it in the most unlikely of places.

“Believe it or not, it’s in the dishwasher”, my teacher, Annette, said. Turns out, we had run out so she had to get some that was frozen and to fast track the melting process she chucked the canister in with the heat.

I spent most of the morning having fights with my cheese biscuits (much to Annette’s amusement) and wondering why my soup didn’t really taste like coconut.

Thankfully everything fell into place with just minutes to go and my teacher gave me my highest score to date – no pressure. Annoyingly I forgot to take a photo of my final dishes, so I’ve no actual proof that they exist (though below you can see the type of Petit Fours I was making).

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I know what some of you may be thinking; “she used that goddamn awful pun in the title but she’s yet to mention any clucking!”

Darina made jointing a chicken look so flawless in demo today that I almost cried and the thought of trying to do it on my own.

Dismantling a chicken is one of the techniques we need to know for our mid-term exams so if anyone sees me buying ten of them in SuperValu, ignore me, I’m on a mission.

This is the first time we’ve had chicken in demo, so it’s nice being a carnivore again. The zero waste Ballymaloe policy was very much on the menu again and we were shown eight ways to use a whole chicken.

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“This is one of the most difficult things to do right”, Darina announced as she buttered courgettes – guess who’s doing that recipe tomorrow?!

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(Cinnamon vs Cassia – Cassia is a much cheaper product that people try to pass off as cinnamon)

Despite feeling slightly goggly-eyed, my housemate Sophie and I headed along to a screening of The Future of Food, a documentary that investigates genetically modified products that are being sold in stores!

Tomorrow I’m cooking gazpacho, white soda bread, buttered courgettes and chicken wings with sweet chili sauce.

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Some random things I learned today:

  • Clarified butter is normal butter melted down and they left to solidify. Before you leave it rest you skim the salt crystals off the top.
  • Never buy powdered saffron, more than likely it isn’t all spice.
  • The best cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka.
  • You can use a coffee grinder to blend spices but it’s best if you don’t use it to make coffee!
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