Monday, 8 March 2010

Distracted by false spring

We've had several days of beautiful weather. Clear blue skies and lots of sunshine with "warm" temperatures, it went all the way up 12C today. I am always amazed how warm that feels after a long winter.  This false spring won't last, so when I have a spare moment I rush outside and soak in the vitamin D instead of blogging.

I've wanted to tell you about the interesting time I had messing around with cocks' combs and testicles. I was lucky enough to convince Albert Ponzo the chef at Le Select bistro to let me help him prepare cockscombs. My part of the bargain share my knowledge of lamb's testicles.

Here are the cocks' combs in their raw state; yes it is that piece of flesh on the top of a rooster's head. They are not easy to get and take quite a bit of work to prepare. After being blanched and cleaned they look like this -

You can see why they've been a popular garnish through the ages - their shape is so unique.  It's definitely not their flavour that makes them memorable. They are mild and have a gelatinous quality like many animal extremities. Once blanched, Albert cooks them in stock, demi-glace and red wine, until tender.

Albert then takes the cooked combs and serves them with mushrooms in a red wine jus, a delicious gelatinous treat.
We didn't get to the eating part and I don't have a photo from when I tried them at Le Select but here are some cocks' combs I ate in NYC at Casa Mono.


A classic presentation is à la reine a dish favoured by Catherine de Médicis a rich ragout of sweetbreads, kidneys, cocks' combs and artichokes.  I know cocks' combs won't be the next hot item on menus, but I would like to see them occasionally, even simply as a garnish. What happens to them all? Ground up for pet food I guess.

It was fun being back in a commercial kitchen, the camaraderie, the noise and the  heat brought back memories, most of them good.  However, by the end of the day I realised that I prefer days where I can retreat from the kitchen to my computer and vice versa.


Sally said...

That was my question - what does happen to all the cocks' combs? I'm sure I'll see them in Vietnam!

Jennifer said...

Let me know. I don't remember seeing any in Viet Nam but I saw lots in Italy. There are not a lot of cock's around - usually a farmer only needs one, so the others are dispatched. The hen has a comb too but it's smaller.

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