My adventures at George Brown Culinary 1 - Day 8

George Brown: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Why did the chickens cross the road? They heard it was Roast Chicken night at George Brown Culinary 1! Today Chef Jean-Jacques and his cute little en francais accent told us that we were tying our aprons all wrong and after a quick little demo, we were all soon up to speed on apron etiquette. 

The demo today is  a crispy roast chicken with gravy, onion and sage dressing and a lovely side of zucchini provencal. We watch carefully while the bird is seasoned and crisped up and then enhanced with spices and veggies to make a delicious gravy and we're released to tackle the birds by ourselves. Today our class seems rather empty and hence I get an extra bird to work on and take home – score! I work fast getting my fingers under the birds skin even though it feels rather intrusive and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper before I slather it with olive oil. 

We trussed(tied) our birds and by the second bird, I think I mastered the technique. While our birds roasted in the hot ovens, Chef showed us how to prepare a delicious onion and sage stuffing made with chicken liver. 

I've made stuffing many times before, but I'm throwing all that out of the window and only going to make it this way going forward, it was truly delicious. He also showed us how to make Zucchini provencal not one or two but three different ways! Stacked for plate presentations, stewed for remarkable flavour and fine diced and crispy for a fresher flavor!

Once we sampled the roast, gravy, stuffing and gravy, it was time to remove our own birds from the oven and pack them away to be transported home. My kids gave this a two thumbs up!

What I learned
The US and Canada does not have stringent for free range and farm chickens like Europe does. The chickens may be allowed out, but are still cooped for fear of contracting diseases or getting bit by mosquitoes. 

To ensure that the chicken gets crispy, not only pat it dry, but also leave it open in the fridge to air dry.
Unlike red meat, chicken does not need to 'rest'. You may want to wait so you don't get burned by the steam, but resting is not required.
Smaller birds are tastier, they have a smaller risk of growth hormones and antibiotics.
The skin of the chicken is easier to lift if the bird is at room temperature.
In a pan, size does matter – don't over crowd the pan with veggies or it will create too much steam in the oven. Make sure the pan surface is not uncovered especially at the edges or they will tend to burn.
When sautéing chicken liver for the stuffing, ensure that the pan is hot and the liver is well seared for maximum flavour. If you overcrowd the pan, the liver will start to boil.
Adding a layer of dry croutons at the bottom of the pan for your stuffing will ensure crispiness.