Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Day in the Life

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Rich Matosky decided he wanted to take a weekend and spend some time in my kitchen. He wrote a short essay describing his experiences in the Sheppard Mansion kitchen and I thought everyone might enjoy reading it. I've included some photos from our daily 'work' and also a video of us during service. Hope this sheds some light on the 'day to day'.... Enjoy....and a special thanks to Rich. You can wear a 'goofy skull cap thing' anytime in my kitchen.

'So you want to be a Professional Chef?'
The foodie world is chock full of fairly well-off, well-intentioned and, mostly, narcissistic people that think because they read books, go out to great restaurants, frequent farmer’s markets and entertain their friends at multi-course dinner parties once in awhile – they automatically qualify as chefs.

That would be me, well, sort of me. Not everything outlined above can be attributed to me, but enough does that I am loathe to dispute the premise.

Especially the wanna-be chef part.

You see, I LOVE to cook.

In the beginning – back in the stone ages of the early 80’s - because of a lack of a really great “line”, it was a way to get chicks. Back then, you didn’t really have to be a good cook, you just had to be better than the next guy, which wasn’t hard since the next guy didn’t even bother to try.

So that’s what happened. Since I merely tried, I was fairly successful at cooking food – to get women. Along the way I found out that what I put out wasn’t half bad.

Sometimes it was actually pretty good, which along with “other” positive reinforcement, encouraged me to expand my repertoire, read more, take risks, invite more people – and wonder if I could do this “professionally”.

Fast forward a few years, ok, A LOT of years. My kitchen is full of tools and gadgets and books and all the accoutrements of a seasoned home cook. Dinner parties are staged, sometimes weekly. People tell me, like they have for years, that I should open a restaurant, do this thing I love to do full time.

Along the way, at all of those great restaurants that we foodies frequent, I end up befriending some chefs. When you befriend a chef you get to pick their brain, steal ideas, and ask about techniques.

If you’re lucky, they enjoy the interest, humor you a bit, look at you sideways and tell themselves that you are not as annoying as they first think you are….but THEY know the truth….being a chef is all about hard work, not glamour. And most of the time, “celebrity” extends only as far as their last perfectly cooked piece of fish.

Which brings me to my experience in the kitchen of the Sheppard Mansion – in the heart of Central Pennsylvania ( )

The kitchen is run by Andy Little – a great chef and a budding friend of mine who had invited me out to spend a few days – actually a Friday & Saturday – in his kitchen.


Not playing, not dreaming, not fantasizing, WORKING.


I was to arrive by 10:00 AM on Friday to get acquainted with the kitchen, the menu, his staff and the process and procedures that he has put into place over the last several years that has helped him make the Sheppard Mansion THE go to spot for fine dining in Central PA.

I was forty-five minutes late. It was raining, there were traffic accidents on the turnpike and it couldn’t be helped.

I walk up the steps and there he is, “Mr. Happy” pointing to his watch. I walk in the door and instead of being greeted like the friend I think I am, I’m told “You’re late, where have you been?”


Next, I’m handed the kitchen’s standard uniform – chef’s whites, a blue apron and a goofy skull cap beanie thing. I’m told to go change because I’m going to be helping Andy – Chef Little – do the prep for the tasting menu this evening.

Cool. That works.

I go and change. I’m not liking the goofy skull cap thing. I get why everyone has to wear it, but can’t I just wear a decent looking baseball cap?


And that, as they say, is that.

My first impression of the kitchen?


There’s no music. There’s little conversation as Scott and Patrick and Andy – and now me – go about the business of preparing the mise en place for tonight’s menu.

I get to chop the shrimp up fairly finely for the shrimp fritters that comprise one of the courses on the Tasting Menu. I’m then told to pick herbs that were cut earlier from the gardens outside the back door.

After that, it’s time to mix the dough, then knead, proof and portion – 2 ounces per – for the restaurant’s signature “pretzel rolls”

There’s only one problem with that, Andy. I don’t bake. At all. Ever.

Too much like high school chemistry class. One has to actually FOLLOW a recipe in order for the product to turn out the way it’s supposed to.

I’ve never done that. My cooking is more “free form” than that. A little of this and a little of that, a taste here, a pinch of something there.

Guess what, it usually works. Even when you’re cooking an eight course tour de force for ten people and the dishes on the menu you circulated sound as if Thomas Keller himself wrote the descriptions. Recipes, who needs recipes?

Not me. I’m a concept cook. That’s why I don’t bake.

Not in this professional kitchen. Not when you’re making the signature pretzel rolls that have to look a certain way, bake a certain way, taste a certain way.

After I got over how quiet and relaxed everyone was, I had to grasp the fact that every one of them keeps and refers to – on a regular basis during the day – a little beat up pocket journal where they keep all of their recipes for everything from pretzel rolls to tempura batter to five different kinds of vinaigrette.

Interesting. Enlightening.

And the beat goes on.

Wait, its four o’clock in the afternoon. Where did the time go? An hour and a half until service and there are still things to be done.

It took me twice as long to form the pretzel roll dough as it takes the others. That slowed me down. The other things on my list were quietly re-distributed to the professionals in the kitchen and added to their own lists….lists that are not discussed, not cross referenced, not debated. In a professional kitchen, it seems, the chefs who work there know EXACTLY what it is that needs to be done from the moment they walk in the door in the morning, until they leave some twelve to fourteen hours later.

And in this kitchen, the head chef, the executive, the BOSS, for crying out loud, does any and all jobs that need to get completed….including washing the overcrowded sink area that holds the tools used to prep for the night’s service. BEFORE THE DISHWASHER GETS THERE!!!

Interesting. Enlightening.

I’m thirsty. Really thirsty. It kind of hits me all at once that my mouth is as dry as dry gets and that my 48 year old, out of shape physique needs something to drink. And eat.

And I need to sit down. Now.

Staff meal on Friday is pizza.

Hanover pizza.

Typical pizza. Not bad, not great, just there. Something to put in my stomach to quell the pang that suddenly is reminding me that the two poached eggs I had eaten at 6AM have given their all to sustain me to this point and the time has come to “replenish”.

A quick review, while everyone munches, of what is done for tonight’s service, what needs to be done and the announcement that I’m going to be on “hot apps” tonight AND I’m going to help Andy with any tasting menu orders that occur.


I have been so busy making sure that the herbs are picked just right, the celery is diced EXACTLY the way I was shown it needs to be and packaged, labeled and stored in the right spots that I’ve barely read either menu to see how the dishes are constructed and I’m the one responsible for all of the hot app orders that come in?

You’re kidding, right? This is a business – which is the one thing I can relate to in a “professional kitchen” – and that means that EVERYTHING that goes out of it needs to be perfect, not just ok or fine…..but perfect.

Or the customer doesn’t come back…maybe ever. Which is not good for business.

Now that I understand…. Why, then, is this perfectionist chef, the one who would tell me the next day, AFTER service was over that the water temperature I used for the pretzel roll dough wasn’t exactly 105 degrees and he could tell in the finished product….why would he let me cook the hot apps when I had never seen any of them in their cooked, plated form?

Because, he said, that’s how you learn. And since I wanted to work the weekend in a professional kitchen, feeding paying customers that I didn’t know was a part of that.

Working under pressure is a part of that.

Doing your best, each and every dish is a part of that.

Satisfying people every night is a part of that.

Plus, besides expediting orders and finished dishes, Andy would be watching my every move, giving me just enough rope to succeed, not enough to hang myself.

It’s 5:30 and the first reservation shows up. That’s when the next really cool thing happens. Andy tells everyone to put down their knives, go over to the coffee station and grab a cup of French press the wait staff had put out for us and to meet him on the back porch.

The same porch, hours earlier in the rain, I had been greeted with – “You’re late”.

Now the sun was out, the cool breeze was up and everyone sat down to drink some killer coffee, reflect on the day and get charged for the night.

A brief moment in time when the romance of being a professional chef actually lives up to how it’s portrayed on TV and in magazines and in books. It’s cool. Really cool.

Service is a blur of activity because I REALLY don’t know what I’m doing. Everyone else does and since it’s not “hammer-time” on this particular Friday, the orders come in and the food goes out like clock-work.

Even the hot apps I’m responsible for look and taste like they are supposed to. At one point, Andy Little declares that he is a little bored because things are so smooth.


Oh well. The last desserts go out and guess what’s next?

You got it. Breakdown and clean-up.

Everything out of the coolers. Clean the coolers. Clean out the refrigerators. Re-package and label the unused product. Take apart the stove. The WHOLE stove? Jeez, you’re kidding me. The WHOLE stove, not just the burners?

Yep. The whole stove.

EVERYTHING in this kitchen gets scrubbed and cleaned – every night.

All of a sudden it dawns on me that I’m 48 years old. You know how I know?

My back and feet are telling me – “You’re 48 years old, dude. Time to stop acting like you’re 28 years old”.

My back hurts, my feet hurt and there’s still an hour of grueling cleaning to do before I can go upstairs, take a hot shower and go to bed. Which is what I do.


Its day two of this poseur chef thing I not only volunteered for, but actually lobbied Andy to let me do.

What was I thinking?

Right, we already talked about that. Chef romance fantasy lifestyle thing.

My back and feet are basically telling me to screw that.

Andy and I drive to Baltimore to scope out the “famous” 32nd Street Farmer’s Market. It’s an hour from the restaurant. He picks me up at 7AM.

We both need coffee. I usually don’t need coffee. It’s not really early for me, as I’m used to getting up at five or so everyday.

Today, 7AM is EARLY. My body hurts. I’m old. I’m an amateur.

We get back from the farmer’s market at 10AM. Back into uniform.

The pile of clothes from the day before smells. Like grease. I hadn’t noticed it before. Good thing I brought another set of clean work clothes.

The goofy scull cap is back on my head. I’m ready.

Today I get handed the recipe for the pretzel rolls and I’m told I need to make a double batch because the restaurant is not only full tonight, it’s over full and those “signature” rolls will be in demand.

Wait. Now I have to make these from scratch? On my own? Jeez.

Not only that, but in between mixing and kneading and proofing and portioning, I have to go out in the gardens and cut most of the herbs for the entire service, which then need to be picked and then they need to be packaged, marked and stored on ice….so they don’t dry out.

Plus, I have to go out and pick baby pansy flowers for the dish garnishes, oh and I also have to so my own mise en place for tonight’s service – I’m back on hot apps again.

Again, it’s quiet in the kitchen. Work just gets done. Light banter today. The sun is out, the air is cool and I get another “French Laundry Moment” when I go out in my full chef get up and go around to each of the beds and cut assorted herbs, sort them, go around to the flower beds and pluck pansy flowers from their plants.

Cool. Until I go to stand back up.

I can’t stand up straight. Its three freaking o’clock and I’ve got until midnight, at least, to survive and I can’t stand up!

I hobble into the kitchen. No one even looks up. Over to the first aid drawer and pop some aspirin. I NEED to get rid of this pain or I’m not going to make it.

I’m 48 years old. I resolve that the next dinner guest who tells me I should be cooking for a living is going to get thrown out of a window. Who was I kidding?

I couldn’t do this for a living if my life depended on it. All of these guys I’m with have trained – formally – to do this. They are passionate about food, where it comes from, how it’s raised, how best to prepare the great raw ingredients they are blessed to have.

I do dinner parties on the weekends and – if I’m up to it - simple – good – but simple dishes during the week.

There’s no comparison and my old, fat, out of shape body is telling me what my intellectual mind already knew….what you see on TV and what you read about in magazines is the glossy version of reality.

Five o’clock.

Saturday service. The first guests show up. Early on there’s a ten top and a seven top.

The professionals in the kitchen, which tonight, in addition to Andy, Scott and Patrick, includes Dan, are ready and waiting. My back and feet still hurt…A LOT.


Dan’s a food broker by day. He and Andy knew each other back in the day when they were getting their cooking indoctrination at the local country club and then went to The CIA together. Andy thinks the world of Dan.

Dan works the “pass” on Saturday nights to keep his “chops” up. He’s quiet, methodical, fast and has food instincts that I can only wish I had. This allows Andy to roam the stations, help people out and make sure each dish is up to spec.

And the first curve ball of the evening is the fact that there are two kids on the ten top and there’s NOTHING on the menu that they will eat.

“Front of the House” wants to know if we can accommodate.

Ask us after our cool-ass French Press pre-service coffee….PLEASE!

Andy tells Dan to handle it. He goes to dry storage and the walk-in. Comes back with an arm full of ingredients. He’s happy he’s found some elbow macaroni. He tells “Front of the House” to inquire if the kids like bacon. They do. Good.

They are getting the best macaroni and cheese they have ever had. Dan goes to work. Grates the cheeses. Boils the water. Sauté’s the bacon.

All the while he calls out the orders from the pass. Works the stove, keeps an eye on me. Bails me out when I get behind – or in the lingo of the kitchen – “get into the shit”.

It happens, a lot that night. It’s a busy night. Too much to tell.

A lot like last night. Only busier. A lot busier. More orders faster. More food being juggled, finished, plated.

And then it hits me, about halfway through service. My back. My feet.

They don’t hurt anymore. Like, not at all.


A wonder drug.

And the dance goes on.

Andy has some friends in from Bucks County. His old sous chef at EverMay on the Delaware.

He will cook them a tasting….at this point, I see a whole lobe of foie gras going into a pan to roast. He’s doing a whole foie gras for them! The rest of us continue to work. Scott and Dan, on my side, don’t miss a beat.

Patrick on the cold and dessert side. Quiet, efficient. His food is on the money.

I continue to struggle to just keep up. Tonight, though, I think I get it. Just a smidge. Just enough to understand, not enough, though, to change my mind about this business.

It Is Hard.

Night in and night out.

It Is Hard.

No romance, no cameras, no fawning fans. Just honest, hard work.

In the end, Little is pleased with the night. Which is an accomplishment. Believe me.

The kitchen is broken down and cleaned, top to bottom – again.

The front of the house gets a killer staff meal.

We all retire to the bar for a drink…..I get to bed at 3 AM. I don’t get up at five.


Besides the obvious I’ve already mentioned, the bulk of the important work in a fine dining restaurant begins with the conception of the menu and the individual dishes that comprise it and the sourcing of only the BEST ingredients.

The sourcing of the ingredients is what separates Andy Little from the rest. He cultivates friendships and bonds with farmers, herdsman, cheese makers and fisherman.

How those ingredients are raised, what is used to feed them, how they live and are harvested is as important a component of his food as the preparations.

The next most important thing is the preparation of the pristine ingredients that go into the well conceived dishes on the well conceived menu.

Waste nothing, use it all. That’s an Andy Little motto.


In the end, to be honest, service just seems like a mechanical process that could just as well be occurring in a restaurant in Des Moines as easily as it is occurring at The Sheppard Mansion. The process of boiling, broiling, sautéing and frying is the same…it’s the ingredients, the attention to detail that borders on fanatical, the shared vision of the entire restaurant crew, that makes all of the difference.

And the skill and passion of the people that cook the food we eat.

Back to my day job.

My back has finally stopped hurting.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Week in Review


First off, we got some amazing soft shell crabs, so the video is how to clean the soft shells once you've gotten them home. A small addition to the video... one thing we do post cleaning is to soak the crabs in milk after they are cleaned. We sold out of the crabs, so unfortunately there is no pic of the finished dish, but I can describe it for you. A quick tempura style beer batter(National Bohemian is preferred....) fries up the crabs, some grilled bread, tartar sauce, and a little micro salad. Like I said, we didn't have a 'tester' to take a photo of, but maybe next week. I'll keep you posted.

The next super duper cool thing from the week is that we(or more accurately, my dad) finally finished an overhaul on our corner herb garden. Last year, this garden held most of our herbs, but due to our overwhelming use of the herbs, we had to move some herbs to the raised beds and add more volume of herbs to the corner garden. As an example, last year we had three chive plants, this year we have 14. I couldn't be happier with the extremely polished look these gardens have taken on(everything my dad touches turns to gold)....when you visit the restaurant, I encourage you to have a glass of champagne and stroll the just might get to have a conversation with a chef out picking his herbs and garnishes before dinner service.

Kathy Glahn's Gettysburg Market at the Outlets opened this week. Now, we are lucky enough that Kathy delivers to us at the restaurant every wednesday, but I really like getting to the market to see what other great surprises some of the local growers are bringing to market. Plus, it's a huge bonus for me to get to spend some quality time talking with folks who are very passionate about what they are doing. I encourage everyone out there to search out your local markets and start to establish some relationships with the folks who are growing your food. You'll be glad you did!!! So, a huge CONGRATS on the market, Kathy. I'm looking forward to many friday's spent strolling the pop up tents of Gettysburg!!!!

By now, everyone knows my fascination to everything pig and more specifically with country ham. This week, I made a call to Ron Turner of Turner Ham House in Fulks Run, Virginia(cue Country Roads by John Denver and just change the lyrics to just Virginia not West Virginia...I love Virginia...come to think of it, just cue the entire John Denver greatest hits album while reading these posts) Anyhow, a few days later, thanks to UPS, two boneless country hams appeared at the back door. One of regular age and one aged for over a year. Yes, the aged ham was sliced super thin and placed on White Lilly flour biscuits with a little dijon mayo and homemade pickles as an amuse this week. I almost felt like I was back in Old Virginia...can peanut soup be far away???

My good friend, Rich Matosky visited us at the restaurant last week and spent two days in chef's whites going through the paces in the kitchen. I think he had a good time(after getting his ass handed to him for being late on his first day...hey, I don't cut ANYONE any slack in the kitchen) and he has been generous enough to write a full description, a sort of day in the life if you will, of a weekend at The Sheppard Mansion through his eyes. I think you can look forward to this post some time soon(message to Rich: this means you now have a deadline for finishing up this story.... hahahahaha)

We had a great week at the restaurant. So many great products are coming into season, the gardens are popping after weeks of rain, and there is a real sense that this summer is going to be one we'll remember for years to come. Hope to see you soon!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

What the hell to do with all that rhubarb and oh yeah, we love country ham

Yep, it's rhubarb season in the rainy northeast. That automatically brings to mind the traditional paring of rhubarb and strawberry which we have been representing as a strawberry and rhubarb crumble tart with creme fraiche ice cream. Nice, but pretty predictable. Scott and I were talking and wondering what else we could do with rhubarb. After some thought, I came up with making a rhubarb and lavender vinegar that we can use as a base to vinaigrettes. We are also using a strawberry and rhubarb sauce to accompany our seared foie gras. Every day brings new possibilities....I just got another load of milk chickens from Beau early this morning, so perhaps a rhubarb and chicken pairing might be in our future. Here's the thing folks....pick up some rhubarb and start cooking with it.

Thought I would post some pics of our newest hams to come out of the aging room. First is just a simple shot of a slab of country ham, fresh out of the aging room. The next two shots prove that we 'dig the pig'.... Honestly, it's good stuff, but for now, it's just for us!!!!

Maybe rhubarb and country ham will go together....I'm hoping to get some hams from Turner Ham House in western Virginia sometime this week...I'll let you know what happens.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Some of Spring's bounty

Spring has been very good to us in central PA. I wanted to shoot a quick video because we have been getting two AMAZING products delivered to us at the restaurant. The first product is from Tim Brown in Littlestown.....the most incredible strawberries. We had a flat of strawberries from Tim last week that were from his greenhouse, but these little gems are the first to be produced outside and I've gotta tell you, they are just incredible. If you buy strawberries throughout the year at your local mega mart, you need to try and get your hands on a few of these babies. They don't even taste like the ones you get in the store. They are bound only by the fact that folks will refer to them as 'strawberries'. This is a perfect illustration of Marco Pierre White's assertion that 'mother nature is the true artist, we are only technicians'. That quote is spot on and was the first thing I thought of when I bit into the first little 'fruit bomb'.

The second fabulous product we've gotten our hands on lately is local morel mushrooms. We are very lucky to have Jeremy Braughler as one of our waiters. He has been with the restaurant for almost two years now and does a really great job in our dining room. The other thing he does (with his parents) is forage for morel mushrooms in the spring. I've had the great opportunity to talk to his parents about the mushrooms and food in general and they are honestly some of the most interesting people you could ever have the chance to meet. As you can see from the photo, the Braughlers have dropped off yet another haul of mushrooms to the restaurant and we couldn't be happier.(sometimes at this time of year I feel like the 'shrimp guy' from Forrest Gump. Morel pizza, morels with sea bass, country ham stuffed morels, etc, etc) I'll post some photos of finished plates in the next couple of days, but I wanted to take the time to romance the raw product. Next time you're at the market, pick up some food and really admire it in its raw state. Mother nature is the true artist. Take the products home and do as little as possible to them and allow them to shine!(I honestly considered serving a plate of simply sliced strawberries this week....that's how amazing these berries are.... no kidding)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

'The Way to a Man's Heart is with Amazing Pastry and Strong Coffee'

Had a wonderful trip to DC for a tasting of Robert Kacher's spring portfolio of wines. The tasting was on wednesday, so it was a perfect excuse to spend a few extra days in DC and see what kind of trouble I could get into. First stop....the USDA. Unfortunately, there was nobody there who had a spare few hours for me to speak my mind....bummer. Guess I'll have to keep writing letters!!!

One of my favorite stops during the trip was a casual dinner at Barton Seaver's new restaurant, Tackle Box. Barton and I attended The Culinary Institute of America at the same time, so it was great to reconnect with a friend from school. He has the most amazing wood-fired grill and I had two really great appetizers. One was grilled local oysters and another of grilled calamari. Just amazing!!! If you're in DC or close to DC....go to this restaurant. I know he gets alot of press because of his support of sustainable seafood, but that aside....this is a super cool, laid back, fish shack. When I'm in DC, this is one place you'll find me. Now on to the second place....

I've got a weak spot for amazing pastry(is there anyone who doesn't?) I found my pastry 'crack dealer' on Wisconsin Avenue at Patisserie Poupon. Here's the thing. I also LOVE macaroons and they have killer ones(try the pistachio and butter cream). On top of all of this goodness, they have the most amazing coffee. If you're ever playing 'Where in the World is Andy Little?' and I'm somewhere in DC, odds are if it's the morning I'm at Patisserie Poupon. So damn good.

One afternoon, I was exploring around the city and ran across Cowgirl Creamery's store. If Poupon is my crack dealer, then I'm a kid in a candy store at Cowgirl. They have some great cheeses(one stand out was from Chapel's Country Creamery in Maryland), but also stock a great deal of local products and I love shopping through them and looking for neat stuff for the restaurant.

Was lucky enough to dine at Michel Richard's Citronelle on wednesday night....sampled certified Kobe beef.(more on that later) It was really amazing to see how plates can look when there are 20 cooks in the kitchen!!! Next stop on the fine dining tour is Restaurant Eve.

Finally when we got home, I was so inspired by both the wood fired foods at Tackle Box and the Kobe beef at Citronelle, that I thought I would get started on trying to figure out how to bring those ideas and flavors to the restaurant. Our first stop was building the fire. I got an old cast iron pan and gathered some dry wood from the park behind the restaurant. Next was to acquire some fine beef. Have I mentioned that the Sheppard family raises Scottish Highland cattle? I got a nice strip loin and cut portions for the 'grill'. I have to take a slight detour here to discuss Kobe beef. I prefer beef that tastes, well beefy. I don't get that from Kobe. I certainly get a nice mouth feel and the requisite amount of fat, but for me I prefer my beef to have more of a punch to it. For that I go with the Highland beef. Should we call it Pennsylvania Kobe? I just call it good. Please, please, please make sure that when you are spending a lot of money on ingredients that you choose with YOUR PALATE not with what the sexy ingredient of the moment is. There's a reason classics are classics and basics are basics. Back to our story....I took a grate out of our smoker and voila....wood fired grill.(we also took some time to roast marshmallows....) The taste was amazing( a little smoky, a little charred) and simply paired with some asparagus, roasted fingerling potato and some horseradish cream, it made for a nice little VIP course.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

skills...nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills

You gotta make stock. It's a skill and a very handy one at that. Roast a chicken for a sunday lunch? Make stock. Got some bones left over from a prime rib roast? Make stock. Overload of veggies from the garden? Make stock. You get the picture. Having great stocks at your disposal is one of the key ingredients for great cooking. It feels like we are always making stock at the restaurant and for good reason....we use a hell of a lot of stock. The video above details how we make our chicken stock, as this is the next video after breaking down the chicken. A common issue I hear from home cooks is 'what do I do with that huge pot of stock once it's made?' My suggestion is to reduce it down by half, chill it and pour it into plastic deli containers. Label and freeze. Then great stock for a soup or sauces is only minutes away in your home microwave. Honestly, stocks are the backbone for so many things and will take you one huge step toward really elevating your home cooked food. Oh yeah, I did say add the feet to the stock. If you your bird didn't come with the feet, see if you can get some from your butcher.(I said butcher, not the damn mega mart. They're not butchers. They're plastic cutters. Don't believe me? Next time you're in your local mega mart ask the guy behind the meat counter where a specific cut of meat came from...possible answers here would be Colorado, Iowa or I don't know. If they get past that question, ask them where the infraspinatus muscle is located. You gotta use your local butcher or they'll go away....then we're all screwed. Thanks.) Anyhow, add the feet. They add an amazing viscosity to your stock and once you try it, you'll be hooked. If you have to get feet from your butcher in volume, just break them up into small packages and freeze them. When you are doing stock, pull a package out of the freezer and pop it into the stock. Happy cooking!!!

Oh yeah....the infraspinatus muscle...Wanna know? It's more commonly referred to as the flat iron(once the shoulder tendon is taken out) Coming soon to an Applebee's near you..... Tyler Florence's (yes, I would LOVE to be pimped out as much as he is, but I'm not that cute) recipe for scattered, smothered and chunked flat iron steak!!!Whooppeeee. It is technically the top blade muscle taken off of the shoulder clod. Later.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Now that you've gotten the chicken home......

As's the first installment in our series of chicken videos. 'How to break down a chicken'. Scott demos how we break down the birds at the restaurant and hopefully you will be able to follow along at home. As I have said in earlier posts, please try this at home. It is so much more fun buying a whole bird from a great farmer and making a couple of meals out of it or just roasting it whole. One thing that I neglect to mention in the video....all of this goes a lot quicker and easier if you are equipped with a very sharp knife. I know that for a lot of folks very sharp and knife aren't words that collide in the same sentence too often, but they really need to. Think about are about to cut(or hack) apart a chicken that a farmer worked his ass off for eight weeks to raise and you're going to beat the shit out of it with your lame 'I haven't sharpened this thing in years' knife. If that's the case for you and you have dull knives SHARPEN THEM OR GET SOMEONE TO SHARPEN THEM FOR YOU. If you can't take care of this minute detail, please go to Chili's for dinner and enjoy the Southwest Egg Rolls. YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS COOKING WITH GREAT INGREDIENTS, YOU LAZY SLOB. Am I being too subtle again? Please use a sharp knife. Enjoy the video.