Last week I shared my highlights from week one of my 11-week course at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit in Bangkok, Thailand. As week two began on July 20, I was excited to finish up soups and move into sauces, doughs and more.

Recipes for Week Two at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

Here are the recipes we covered during week two:

Class 4:

  • Basic Stocks, Part 1
  • White Chicken Stock; Trussing Poultry
  • Thickeners: Supreme Sauce, Béchamel Sauce

Class 5:

  • Basic Stocks, Part 2
  • Brown Veal Stock, Fish Sauce
  • Sauce Bercy (White Wine Sauce)

Class 6:

  • Commonly Used Doughs, Part 1
  • Savory Yeast Dough
  • Fresh Pasta Dough for Spinach Cannelloni
  • Culinary Terms:
  • To sweat (no color)
  • Technique for peeled & seeded tomato

What I Learned the Second Week at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

I definitely thought of Julia Child as I learned the “proper way” to truss a chicken. We were presented with a whole chicken – head and feet still attached! Before trussing and before poaching, you must prepare the chicken in this order:

  • First, heating the chicken skin with a small kitchen torch is a must. This shrinks the skin and makes it tight before the cooking process.
  • The second order of business is to remove the tendons in the legs. If you skip this step, the legs will be tough after cooking.
  • Then you are to separate the feet for stock, remove the head and neck as far down as possible.
  • Remove the kidneys.
  • Remove the wishbone (1 whole piece, thank you).
  • Set aside the chicken fat for the rice.

Watch a YouTube video on trussing a chicken here.

We used this technique except we had to thread the string through a large needle and go in and out of the backbone.

Once you actually get to the poaching of chicken and making a stock for the sauce, guess what – there’s even a specific way to tie a Bouquet Garni!

The chef re-made mine because I tied it in the center (instead of the 2 ends) and, heaven forbid, I used a few parsley leaves instead of the stems! I am told, stems only, please.

Here is the proper way to tie the Bouquet Garni:

The proper tying technique for Bouquet Garni.

The proper tying technique for Bouquet Garni.

After working with chicken, then it was on to working with sea bass. For one of the first times, I not only filleted my own fish, but had to de-scale it too! And surprisingly, it was not as difficult as I had imagined. Of course, having the right knife is key – apparently a boning knife is not the same as a fillet knife!

Poached Fish, Poached Chicken and Savory Pastry

Poached Fish, Poached Chicken and Savory Pastry

Oh, and I was told that, although elsewhere in the world the fish eye is considered a delicacy, it is not good according to the French. There is black liquid behind the eye sockets and if this were to be mixed in with the chicken or fish stock, that additional liquid would ruin these ‘clear’ sauces. So, now you can imagine me digging out the eyes with scissors!

The most important technique I will remember for years to come is that when making a roux, one part is to be hot and one part cold. I never learned this. Either you have the butter and flour hot in the pan and you slowly add cold or room temp liquid OR you cool down the roux and add hot liquid to the pan. You never have all of the ingredients at the same temperature, as some of my fellow students discovered; this will create lumps. Several of my classmates had to re-make their sauces because of this.

We ended the week with making pastry dough; this was one of my favorite tasks! I got so excited I tried the recipe at home first which turned out great, but I realized too late that I had no kitchen scale in my apartment and no rolling pin! I’m sure my Chef would not have approved, as we are to always be prepared in the kitchen and lay out all of our ingredients (and sometimes special equipment) before we begin cooking. I’m nothing if not creative, so I used a turnip for my rolling pin and had to guesstimate on the measurements. Luckily, I have app on my phone that can easily change grams to ounces, or visa versa. I’ve made fresh dough on many occasions so I know that the “feel” of the dough is just as important as the amount of liquid used or even the weight of flour. There are many variables, including humidity and the temperature inside your kitchen.

My "turnip" rolling pin and pastry.

My “turnip” rolling pin and pastry.

My Grading for Week Two

Here’s my second week’s critique:

  • My knife skills were better this week, especially at the end of week with the thin-cut onions for the pastry. My Chef said they melted in his mouth!
  • I showed good cooking technique overall. The chicken and fish were cooked well and I was told my pastry dough was “exceptional.”
  • My bercy sauce reduced well, but the parsley was not chopped fine enough (really?) – here is a link to the knife skills I still need to master (see several common knife cuts below).
  • Overall my seasoning still needs work! I got downgraded on two of the 3 recipes I made.
  • Overall, my marks still seem to be good.
  • I got extra points for peeling and seeding a tomato as garnish for the pastry. I was the only one this week who added that to the top of the dish.
Several different knife cuts.

Several different knife cuts.

I posted some photos on Facebook and one of my friends wanted the pastry recipe. I can’t give you the exact one from school, but here’s one from celebrity chef, Ina Garden and the Food Network.

For photos and videos of several common knife cuts, see this post from Stella Culinary.

Stay tuned for more updates on everything I’m learning during my class at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit. I can’t wait to see what future sessions hold!

Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.