Once again, Yelp is allowing me to do all kinds of things I’d never normally do (to say nothing of the fact that this week has been Glasgow Cocktail week, also organised by Yelp). This time it was a visit to a cook school, just outside Glasgow, where we would attend a day long lesson on The Family Meal.
We all piled into a bus on George Square, early on a Sunday morning. I am not a morning person. I have no wish to tell people how to live their lives, but if you’re regularly choosing to be out of bed before 8am then I’m worried about you. I do not normally get out of bed before 10am on a Sunday, so being in George Square by 8:45 was a bit of a struggle. I might have fallen asleep on the bus.
Fortunately, when we arrived they had fresh, warm scones for use, which the served with tea and coffee. Vanessa, the head chef, summarised our plans for the day. We were going to learn to joint a chicken and to make a range of dishes with the various chicken pieces. This would include Chicken Milanese, Butter Chicken, Barbecue Wings and Drumsticks and Chicken Stock. They also planned to demonstrate how to make Saffron Rice to go with the Butter Chicken, how to roast the perfect chicken and how to make dark chocolate brownies. Good thing I like chicken.
We got started. I think learning to joint a chicken is probably going to be the most useful outcome from this course. I’ve roasted chickens according to many different recipes and I’ve always used the left over roasted meat for meals the day after a roast (I hate waste) but I’ve always roasted the bird first. Turning a whole chicken into several chicken pieces gives me a lot more options and it’s much easier than expected. I could describe it here, but I’m sure that there are YouTube videos that do it greater justice than I would – if you’d like to give it a go.
Before I knew it I had two chicken breasts, two chicken thighs, two chicken drumsticks, two chicken wings and a chicken carcass that went into a pot with the wing tips and a lot of fresh water to start making the stock. We learned to flatten out and breadcrumb the chicken breasts for Chicken Milanese and were shown a simple marinade for the drumsticks and wings. A little more work was needed to de-bone and trim the thighs but soon they were ready for being turned into Butter Chicken. I already have a favourite Butter Chicken recipe that involves a slow cooker, but I’ll definitely make this one next time I haven’t been so good at planning ahead.
Once we’d cooked everything we got to sit down to eat our food. It was one of the biggest and most chicken heavy meals I’ve had – fortunately they suggested that we carry home the bulk of our work. Over the next two days, P and I worked our way through the rest of what I’d made. Somehow, with all the different flavours involved, I managed to not get too bored of eating chicken. That’s probably the second most important lesson – anything can be made more interesting with the use of different flavours and seasonings. After all, Chicken Milanese could hardly be more different from butter chicken in terms of flavour and preparation.
I loved visiting the Cook School and I’ll be keeping an eye out for their future events. The only problem is getting there. Technically it’s in Kilmarnock, but to visit I’d need to take a train and then probably a taxi. It’s a bit of a pain, but I’ll probably end up doing it eventually.