When the NHL season was put on pause in mid-March, New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba knew he needed to keep practicing — his culinary skills, that is.
“After my first season in the league, I was fending for myself,” Trouba, 26, tells The Post. “I started picking up cooking and looking up recipes. I really liked it. During quarantine, I kept going with it. You have to find something to do. I don’t sit around very well.”
“After taking these classes, I have noticed that my skills are pretty bad,” he says, adding that he really only cooks in the off-season, given his hectic schedule. “I never took classes before, so I don’t know how to properly use a knife.”
Now, his slicing and dicing is on display on “Skates and Plates,” a new cooking show airing Tuesdays at 9 pm ET on the NHL Network and on Thursday at 5 pm ET on NBCSN, NHL.com, the NHL YouTube channel, Facebook and IGTV.
Top hockey players are paired with celebrity chefs, who teach the athletes how to prepare one of their signature dishes, all via video chat from their respective home kitchens. In last week’s premiere, for example, Nashville Predators center Nick Bonino cooked filet mignon and pommes frites with French chef Ludo Lefebvre — and ended up setting off his smoke alarm.
For this week’s episode, Trouba teams with one of his culinary heroes, Tribeca restaurateur Marc Forgione, to learn how to make the chef’s famous “chicken under a brick.”
“When I have family come into town, I always take them to Marc Forgione. The food is so unique,” says Trouba, who lives in Tribeca and is also a fan of neighborhood spots Batard and Au Cheval.
During the session, Trouba picked up some tips from Forgione, 41, including how to chop shallots and butcher a chicken. “He did it in three seconds, and I was fumbling my way through it,” says Trouba. “Marc also infused his oil with rosemary.”
Trouba followed his lead, picking rosemary from an herb garden he built on his Florida terrace after watching urban gardener Ron Finley’s MasterClass.
“I have thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, chives, oregano and lavender,” says Trouba.
The finished dish “tasted good,” he says. “The cutting of the chicken was not perfect but it tasted pretty similar to the restaurant dish.”
Still, like a typical pro athlete, he only saw things he could improve upon. “I was a little defeated. I thought, ‘You are not as good as you thought you were.’ ”
But he has scored major points from his fiancée for whipping up fresh pasta, pan-seared salmon and roast chicken during the lockdown. The duo was supposed to marry in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the end of the month, but will instead tie the knot in a quick civil ceremony as the league plans to resume with a 24-team playoff.
In the meantime, he does have one dish he needs to perfect to redeem himself.
“This is embarrassing. I tried to sous vide a lamb shank, but I didn’t have a vacuum sealer,” Trouba says of the technique, in which meat is vacuum-sealed in a bag and cooked in a bath of warm water to make it extra tender. “I took it out and didn’t think much of it, but it didn’t quite smell right. I seared it in a pan. We started eating it and immediately realized it wasn’t smart.”
Trouba marched to the bathroom and made himself throw up. “This is even more embarrassing — I was worried I would be puking all the next day.”