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A really not so offal week - Culinary School Diaries, Week 11

After a very long and stressful month or so, I'm back writing! Week 11 was the week in the course where I think I learnt the most, focusing on offal - a subject I knew I was interested in, but had no experience cooking before.

Monday Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend Monday's masterclass on smoking and curing, as I was at a job interview, but we used a lot of smoked and cured products throughout the week, particularly some very tasty smoked salt.


Tuesday focused predominantly on preparing the day's lunch of fillet steak, smoked celeriac puree, watercress puree, sous vide leeks, onion gel and bourguignon sauce. We also prepped multiple components for dishes later in the week, including cooking pigs' cheeks, making hot water paste for pork pies, and making another loaf of spelt bread.


The focus on offal was key today, preparing a lunch of calf's liver, shallot tart tatin, spinach, parsnip puree, crisps and a red wine sauce. I was surprised as to quite how rare calf's liver should be, and how nice it can taste when you cook it properly, as opposed to the quite grainy liver texture that I'm sure a lot of us are very familiar with. The afternoon finished off with plating up a dish of braised oxtail, root vegetables and black-eyed beans.


Today I cooked (and tried!) sweetbreads for the first time, accompanied by curried cauliflower, raisin puree and a curry foam. I was very pleasantly surprised with these, but I must say that they lose appeal very quickly as they start to cool down, so I think the large portion I had, plus my partner's sweetbreads was perhaps a bit too much. In the afternoon, we plated duck rillettes with a sauternes jelly and smoked apple puree, as well as pig cheeks with aubergine caviar (which despite the exciting name is literally just finely chopped aubergine flesh) and a sauce vierge. We also plated faggots with caramelised red onions, horeseradish foam and polenta cakes.


Friday was another enrichment day, this time on foraging foods. We spent the morning looking at different types of wild mushrooms, and discussing which ones were edible and which ones would, in fact, probably kill us if we ate them. We also spoke about foraging in general, and sampled various meals made pretty much entirely of foraged foods. Lunch was our pre-made pork pies with a potato salad. The afternoon was then spent with a recruitment service.

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