Today was our first Practical Exam! We were given two potatoes, one carrot and half an onion and ordered to execute batonnet, julienne, brunois and medium dice.
We were given 45 minutes to complete the exam, a bountiful amount of time. In fact, most of us finished within ten. We’re all far more comfortable with knife cuts now, we just need to work on speed and accuracy.
I took my tray up to be evaluated. For once I was completely content with my results. My batonnet lined up cleanly and evenly, fitting together like floor tiles. My julienne were cut precisely the right length (I verified my accuracy with a ruler once I finished.) Brunois, 1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 cubes, are my favorite cut to perform. They’re small and perfect cubes cut from julienne, and they all scattered like little potato diamonds across my cutting board.
“These are…” Chef Andre poked at my results, running his fingers over the brunois. “Very good. Yes, very good.”
We then proceeded to our demo for the day: How to tournée , a cut that literally means ‘to turn.’ It is very complicated and fancy and French, and it will take me a very long time to figure it out. The chef had us practice the hand motion by moving our knives over the surface of an egg.
This is what a tournée should look like.
This is what mine looked like.
The chef also demonstrated a cooking method for these lovely potatoes. They should be two inches long, 1.5 oz minimum so that putting one or two on a plate reaches the requirement for starches served alongside a dish. He first blanched them by putting them in a pot of salted cold water, brought it to a boil for one minute, then took it off the heat and let it cool. He then sautéed them to brown all the sides (a proper tournée should have seven facets) and finished them in the oven to cook slowly.
They just melted on the tongue. In a million years I have never tasted a potato like that.
I think this weekend I’ll buy a bag of potatoes and tournée the life out of them. I have got to learn how to master this skill!