Pig’n prunes

Welcome to Pays de la Loire.

Yay! Pork served pink. 62C. Finally.

Filet de Porc aux Pruneaux et Vouvray. Pork loin stuffed with prunes served with a creamy Vouvray sauce and stuffed mushrooms. Mmmmm.

A simple dish but I still managed to screw it up somewhat.

The presentation side of the loin was chosen, then the knife run along the side to open it up. Prunes were placed along the hinge and the loin closed up and held in place with string. Learning to use a single length of string with multiple loops put a smile on my face. Little things please little minds my Mum used to say. The loin was seared to blonde in clarified butter then into the oven turning every 2 minutes, each time relocated to a different part of the pan to create more sucs, until the 4 sides were done. Temperature checked. Rest. The pork loin I had was thin and I should’ve adjusted my timing accordingly. I didn’t. Stupid. Though it was still served pink it was slightly over. Sob.

The sauce was made by deglazing the pan with shallot and onion, then Vouvray white wine. Veal stock added and reduced to coating consistency and finished with double cream.

I quickly knocked up some duxelles.

Are your cooked mushrooms brown? Mushroom juice is brownish in colour because of the brown meat around their gills. The secret to cooking mushrooms and keeping them white is to cook them fast. Over a high heat they lose their moisture rapidly and don’t stew in that brown juice. Chef said a little lemon juice helps prevent oxidation like cooking à blanc but with duxelles it’s mostly for flavour.

Stuffed Paris mushrooms

Mushroom caps were hollowed out, stuffed with the duxelles, and dipped into parsley breadcrumbs. Sitting in clarified butter they were cooked in the oven. Having said I was seasoning well recently, I over peppered my mushrooms with a late sprinkle because I couldn’t remember if I’d seasoned them earlier. Doh. If in doubt, don’t season. Dummkopf.

When making a herb crumb, the bread and herbs are first processed separately. Finely chop the herbs with a knife and blitz the bread in the food processor. Then add in the chopped herbs. Importantly, don’t over process. The breadcrumbs and herbs just need to mix. Over-processing causes the herbs to give out moisture that will dampen the breadcrumbs. Maybe only a little, but the crumbs lose their crispiness and will sweat rather than toast when cooked.

I got a preview of a turned mushroom today. Wow! I’m no fan of turning root vegetables. Turning globe artichokes is fun. But seeing chef’s technique for turning mushrooms was a “WTF” moment. And the result is just glamourous.

So. Pork over. Peppery mushrooms. Shaky hand → sauce drip + poor clean = dirty plate. FFS. Thankfully Chef said my sauce tasted good. I also forgot to take a piccie again.

To mix it up a bit we were asked to work in pairs to produce Soufflé Chaud au Cointreau. Warm soufflés loaded with reduced orange juice, zest, and chewy nuggets of candied orange peel licked with Cointreau.

Orange juice reduced with the zest and candied orange peel in Cointreau

I’ve never been a fan of soufflé. Roberta loves ‘em and I’m always wondering what’s the wow. The soufflés I’ve tried were light and airy, sure, but to me they’re like a light and airy omelette. Meh. In demo today, the soufflé I tried was heavenly with its creamy texture at the centre.

Egg yolks whisked with sugar, flour and cornstarch. Tempered with steaming milk and back onto the heat until thickened. Crème patissière made. Once cooled, more egg yolks whisked in with Cointreau. Ramekins double buttered and dusted in sugar. The brush strokes should go straight up the sides, from the base to the rim, to encourage a straight rise. Chemisage done. Last up, French meringue. Egg whites whipped to soft peaks, sugar added, then whipped to hard peaks. Chef asked us to use (gloved) hands to fold the meringue into the crème patissière so we could develop a feel for density of the mixture. That was cool.

I thought our soufflés looked awesome with an even, straight rise and nice colour. Lopping off the top revealed a creamy centre. Grin. But chef said they were undercooked. He explained they should actually be light and airy throughout with no creamy centre. A creamy centre was in fact uncooked mixture. Makes sense. I still felt deflated like soufflés left too long before serving.

Soufflé with Cointreau and candied orange peel

Soufflé six pack