After learning various ways to cook beef during week seven of my classes at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit in Bangkok, Thailand, I enjoyed learning about duck, beef and pork during week eight!

Week 8 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

Class 22:

  • Julienne, Trussing and Roasting a Duck
  • Glazed Vegetables
  • Hot Soufflé

Class 22

Class 23:

  • Marinating with Spices
  • Warm Vinaigrette
  • Sautéing Beef
  • Classic Cream Sauce
  • Classic French Tart

Class 23

Class 24:

  • Hot Fish Flan
  • Turned Mushrooms
  • Preparing Beef Medallions
  • Charcutiere Sauce
  • Dauphine Potatoes
  • Sabayon Gratin

Class 24

Here’s what I learned during week 8 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

  • After learning how to truss a chicken, trussing a whole duck is easy; roasting a duck is even easier. Mine was the best looking duck in the class.
  • A bit of trivia: There are actually four different names in French for duck. The most fat comes from the male, the least amount of fat comes from the female and the tenderest meat comes from the baby duck. All I can say is, why am I not surprised?
    1. Canard: Male duck
    2. Canette: Female duck
    3. Canton: Baby duck
    4. Canado: Teenage duck
  • Although I’ve made beef stroganoff many times, I have NEVER made it with beef tenderloin – until now.
  • Note to self: Make sure you have a hot pan before sautéing your beef (filet mignon); if the pan’s not hot enough you end up cooking the meat in its own juices, it never browns and it will be overcooked in a flash. Tough meat, especially beef tenderloin, is NOT good eats!
  • Have I got a story for you: The origin of Beef Stroganoff is reportedly linked to a wealthy Russian Family named “Stroganoff” who immigrated to Paris in the 19th century, or so the story goes. Apparently they instructed their French Chef to prepare a dinner using beef; the Chef decided to use only the best of cut beef, being they were so wealthy, and being French, he prepared a cream sauce to accompany the cuts of filet mignon. Then, taking into account his clients were from Russia, he added a common Russian spice, Paprika, to his sauce. And so, this time-honored dish was born.
  • There are many versions of the original recipe: you will find that some recipes call for crème fraiche while others call for sour cream instead of the traditional heavy cream. I’ve even used goat cheese as substitute as well as a “vegan” cream cheese in a vegetarian “Mushroom Stroganoff” that I love. Here is the vegetarian recipe.
  • Cutting your own pork chops from a whole pork loin is very straightforward. The hardest part (and most time consuming) is cleaning the rib bones for presentation. I’ve purchased VEAL chops that have been prepared in this manner by a butcher, but never pork chops.
  • At home, I tend to brine my pork chops before cooking; basting the chops with butter in a hot sauté pan, as we learned in class, the chops stay surprisingly tender and juicy. I found there’s no need for brining, if cooked correctly. I received the best grade yet on this particular cooking test!
  • Our Chef made us a “Trout Flan” this week. I really wanted to like it. This was a savory version of a classic dessert that was offered as an appetizer. The port sauce was amazing. It was even topped with shaved black truffles. No one in the class liked it! I guess this must be an acquired taste that the French learn from an early age. It was a shame, really, as black truffles are one of THE most expensive ingredients in the culinary world.

Grading for week 8 at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit

Here’s this week’s critique:

Class 22: Canette roti aux Navets (Roast Duckling with turnips)

  • I received good marks on the overall look of the roasted duck, although it still lacked seasoning!
  • My “turned” turnips were “acceptable” but the Chef says my technique still needs work. He reminded me the final exam is just weeks away and this is sure to be on the test!
  • Sauce: very good, well seasoned (thank goodness!).

Class 23: Saute de Boeuf Stroganoff, Riz aux Legumes (Sautéed Beef Stroganoff, Rice Pilaf with vegetables)

  • My beef was overcooked!
  • My sauce was good, but more was seasoning needed!
  • My rice was well cooked, although my knife cuts (Brunoise) lacked consistency. The Chef reminded me that all of the cuts must start off “square” in order to achieve the perfect cut (this is easier said than done).

Class 24: Cote de porc Charcutiere, Pommes Dauphine (Pork Ribs Charcutiere, “Dauphine” Potatoes)

  • I finally found my “zone”- all of the classes should go this smoothly (a good way to end the week).
  • Everything I prepared received “excellent” marks:
    • Butchering, cooking of the pork, organization, and the combining and cooking of choux pastry and potatoes
    • Presentation and even knife skills (Julienne)
  • Nothing more to say, except can I have this recipe on the final exam- PLEASE? If I can’t have the pan-seared pork chops, then I’ll take the rabbit, from lesson 15 (week 5)!

Stay tuned for a recap of my lessons from week 9!

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.