This photo is not from the culinary school. I didn’t take any photos during the meat class, just got busy and didn’t take the time, however since we studied meat I wanted to display a the tenderloin steak I got at Lonesome Dove last night. It is a great example of a perfect steak.
Not that we made steaks at school. It was a weird day. First of all, five people were absent and we had a person join us from another class.
Then, although we were told last week that we would be studying poultry, the class handout indicated “meat fabrication”. I couldn’t believe it.
I thought maybe I heard wrong last week but a few others had thought the same thing. To get prepared for poultry I had spent the week making chicken. In fact I purchased 5 whole chickens, made braised chicken, roasted chicken, boned chicken legs stuffed, chicken stock, and practiced “fabricating” (cutting up) all those chickens. I hadn’t even looked at the meat chapter. In the end, everything was OK, though.
The lecture by Chef Waier was not too long, pretty basic information on the primal cuts of beef, same type of thing about pork, some mad cow disease scary stuff, and reminders about safe handling of food. He had created some big posters to show us the various cuts as well.
Everything was straight out of the textbook, so for those of you who missed class, just reading that chapter would cover the lecture quite well.
Our assignment for the day was to split into two groups and prepare the folllowing:
Mashed Potatoes
Shish Kebab (with pork)
Classic Rice Pilaf
Home-Style Meatloaf
Brown Beef Stew
Stuffed Pork Chops
My group was Robert, Rebecca, and Lanie. We each took a dish or two to work on and I had the beef stew. I also helped with the mashed potatoes. We were given a huge pork loin to cut off the pork chop from–and showed how to do it right. I got half a 4 pound piece of beef chuck for the stew. We had to make all our dishes and put them together with starch and other things available in the kitchen. For example, the other group made a very nice looking fruit chutney to go with their pork, and Robert made a very tasty tomato jam to go with ours. Lanie browned some proscuitto in clarified butter to mix in our mashed potatoes, and I added carrots, potatoes, and celery to the beef stew. The instructors liked the proscuitto mixed with the potatoes (although I had oversalted them and put too much white pepper in them.) We also made vegetable kebabs to go with the pork kebabs, and we made these separately. We used some of the vegetables from the kebabs with the pork chop but got points off for the holes in the zucchini (from the skewers). Our meatloaf plate was great.
Lanie cut the meatloaf (which was the size of a 10 ounce burger) into half. On a large white plate we placed some brown gravy (which I made) set the piece of meatloaf on the gravy, put an ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes next to it. She garnished the mashed potatoes with chives, cut into 1 inche pieces, criss-crossed. (I sure wish I had taken a picture of this, since Chef Nona said it was the best dish presented by both groups.)
My beef stew was good, but had a very strong thyme taste. I put a tsp of thyme into my garni, way too much, and my vegetables were undercooked. I was trying hard not to overcook them so I steamed them, but not quite long enough.
Rebecca made the mistake of cooking the pork chop before she stuffed it which was a disaster. Chef Waier suggested she make a new one, which she did. Her rice pilaf was undercooked as well.
Robert’s kebabs were nice to look at but a little too pink for pork. The vegetables were just slightly underdone, but he got compliments for the nice flavor.
All in all, it was not as stressful as previous classes. We had from 10:00 until 12:45 to get our food prepared. The hardest part for me is to think creatively. What side dishes can be made from ingredients on hand? This is difficult since we don’t know in advance what we’ll find in the walk-in or pantry that day. What can we do for garnish? I’m not very good at figuring this out yet. The extra touches, like chutney and sacues are also a challenge.
Well, the good news is I don’t have to study up on meat fabrication and make a bunch of meat dishes this week!
I think I will work on garnishes and sauces instead.