Thomas Keller, You’re My Hero.


June 6, 2010 by sandwichcontrol

Yesterday, instead of doing all of the things that I said I was going to do, such as weed the garden and moving bricks, I decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my day cooking. Granted, I worked on my chemistry, so to reward myself for the hour of hitting the books that I did, I hit the other books. The cookbooks. A few months back, right before I instituted the cookbook ban, Teacher Sis gave me Ad Hoc at Home. It is one of Thomas Keller’s recipe books from one of his many restaurants. The principle behind most of Keller’s cooking is that you should be able to cook home-style meals from a gourmet standpoint. He emphasizes using fresh local ingredients when possible and taking Mama’s recipes and making them better. Substitute goose fat for Crisco, use fresh herbs instead of season salt, stuff like that.

There is a very good reason why nearly every chef in the world considers him to be the best chef in the world. Probably because he is. I am not a chef, but I can recognize greatness when I see it. Just how the cookbook is laid out, showing you how to do just about everything, and giving you tips to allow you to cook like a professional chef, speaks volumes for Keller. He has a way of not being an egotistical maniac, a problem for a lot of chefs, and at the same time he seems like a dear old Uncle who wants to teach you how to cook.

After about an hour of digging through the Joy of Cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (I&II), the Classic Italian Cookbook, and the Top Chef Cookbook I settled on Ad Hoc at Home. This seemed to be what I was in the mood for. I wanted home food. Not sundried tomato and asparagus risotto, but chicken pot pie. I had never made a pot pie before, let alone from scratch. Pancake Land thought this was an excellent idea for me, seeing as how it would take me most of the day to prepare it, i.e. keeping me out of her hair. I suspected that this was the case since she doesn’t really care for pot pie, but I wasn’t cooking for her, I was cooking for me, so I accepted her encouragement and started making my shopping list.

Now, when I say that I made a chicken pot pie from scratch, I mean it to the fullest extent. I made pie crust from scratch. I cooked chicken. I washed, peeled, cut, and boiled potatoes, carrots, and pearl onions. I blanched celery. I even made a béchamel from scratch, all forty minutes of whisking it. It took me close to four hours to prepare this thing. Let me tell you, that if I had messed anything up, I probably would have cried. Especially after forty minutes of whisking milk into a butter-flour roux. Luckily, I didn’t screw anything up. I was a little heavy handed with my parsley and a little light handed with my salt (easily corrected), and the pie came out gloriously. Did I mention that you have to whisk that stuff for forty minutes? Anyway, wanna see it? Lookit:

Pot pie.

It turned out to be super delicious. Even Pancake Land, despite having a cold and not being able to really taste it, went back for seconds. I think the next time that I make it, it will go much faster since I know what the hell I’m doing now. I made have to hire a sous chef to work on the béchamel for me while I am doing every thing else, though. Any volunteers?

So, as we devoured our tasty meat pie, P.L. and I watched all three hours of Avatar. For those of you who haven’t seen it, think Dances with Wolves meets Last Samurai meets Ferngully, only with better animation and the natives (spoiler alert) don’t get systematically slaughtered and/or relocated to Oklahoma. I didn’t really care for it. The movie seemed to have about 30 minutes of plot, character development, and dialogue, and the rest of the movie was like “look at all the shiny phosphorescent things that we can make with really really expensive software”. If that’s your thing that’s fine, but it is not mine. I need my movie to have substance, like Roadhouse. Oh, never mind. Let’s just say that I won’t be killing myself because the world we live in is not Pandora.

Anyway, today is going to be a normal Sunday for me. Working on articles, cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen yesterday, eating stuff, looking at stuff, thinking about stuff, maybe running around with Teacher Sis. S.S.D.D. Well, I’m going to get to it. More soon. ~SC


  1. Dave says:

    I would happily sous the shit outta that shit, provided of course I got half that pie.

  2. TeacherSis says:

    Well done Grasshopper…

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