What a difference a day makes–less than 24 hours. I get home and we go to Buffalo Wings with some friends. MORE MEAT-after playing with chx all day, I was kind of put off with the meat in sweat sauce-not even sure what was on the chx. Oh well.
Sunday started innocently enough. Our task for the day was to butcher already dead things. We took some notes as usual and then launched in to our ritual cutting exercises. We made potatoes and our mirepoix. As usual we waste 3/5 of the potato.
Chef pulled out an almost square piece of meat. It was a beef loin and it had about -1.2 inches of fat on top and weighed about 6 lbs. It was in a bloody package so that meant–Sunday Sessions with the “Blood Bath Kings”–catchy jazz set. Two people shared one. I had the pleasure of finding a working scale and then cutting the meat in half. My partner could then have fun to. So yes we has a lesson in cutting and trying to get a piece of steak that was about 16-20 ounces. We got 12 pieces out of ours and weighing an average of 20 ounces. That is some expensive stuff.
We then did some flank steak. We cleaned away the small amounts of fat and put away for later. No cutting in this part. Next came the tenderloin. It was like a thick skin of cottage cheese looking fat. We had fun pulling the fat away. It was supposed to be satisfying to rip the fat off, as it was rather tough and there was a lot of it. We got to the part where we were pulling of the “silver skin.” That is the white film that covers the meat and seems to kind of hold it together. That is like busy work for an idiot. We cut this meat into a few different cuts. The meat was like a challah bread in width and length. There was the middle which is used for the main serving, then on the outside there were some pieces that can be pounded. At the very end the pieces could be cubed, used for odds an ends and for fillings. Chef cut off a piece and put some Kosher salt on top, and ate it raw. Just like that–. What about not eating raw food! What part of raw did I not understand? He encouraged us to try. I passed up the invitation and so did a few others.
At this time, it was 12 -ish and the teacher asked if we wanted steak for lunch. He made it rather easy–it was either change your clothes, go out in the cold, spend money, etc. or try something you cooked that was warm and tasty. So we prepared to have steak—-yeah. He also said that we should be nice to the class that brings us treats by preparing some extras of the flank. Since I am not a steak eater really, okay, not unless the other dishes are really funky, (and I can’t do the runny bloody thing), I was like, hmm why not, we are cooking it right. So we sauteed some potatoes–that took longer than I thought. I usually never prepare my potato in that way as it has oil and would require a cutting exercise. I usually bake or boil it. Potatoes and I have battled much. I have come to learn that you better not be hungry if you are going to boil a potato and a large one at that. You have to cook the meat half way through the boiling process or you will wait forever for your starch.
So back to the fun–we greased three frying pans and let them get to the smoking point. Then we took them off the fire and poured the oil out. We came back and did it again, and poured it out. It is a process called seasoning: used to make a sticky pan into a non stick pan. We did it on top of the stove. You learn something new every day. http://video.about.com/southernfood/Seasoning-cast-iron.htm (similar process)
On the grill at the same time-which smelled like burning grease, some guys cooked the flank steak, with the same seasonings.
We put some oil/butter, just a little, and brought it to medium heat until it sizzled, then added the potatoes. We let it cook for a while, flipping them (similar to flipping an egg) when they stop sizzling. There is something about raising and lowering the temp as the potato cooks. ( it was a cloudy session so forgive me if I forget–no worries, since this was not a sauteing lesson and we will revisit and get it right next time)
For the steak, we put some crushed peppercorn on the top and bottom in addition to kosher salt. (kosher salt, glorious by the way–it can also put out a pot fire rather quickly, so keep a box handy if you tend to flame in the house a lot–it is better than water and fire extinguishers by leaps and bounds–leave a comment and I will tell you why. We cooked the steaks in a hot pan of butter for 4-5 minutes on each side, then we stuck in the over to finish. We toasted some baguettes and had our steak, and potatoes.
Our ‘desserters’ (LOL) came up and bought us: mini cheesecakes(delectable) baked with a thick cookie underneath, covered with fudge drippings and caramel, then some profiteroles and cream puffs, held together in a mold with caramel ‘hair’. Get this, one of the people in class thought that the caramel hair was actual hair so threw away the piece–okay, what the hec? I will leave that alone.
After lunch we moved into veal. Oh was fun we had! So the bloodless, fat heavy, veal was like having two huge dictionaries, and only a cubby to work in. First we removed the fat. I thought I had seen fat with the beef loin–well this was the super-sized version. I could have formed a baby with all the fat we took out. This fat was not straight either; it was jagged like broken icebergs and felt like solid butter. Chef asked us how our hands felt after, as the natural oils are actually GOOD for your skin. I actually worked without gloves on this. We spent some time cleaning the kidneys. Our task was to de-fat the kidneys without cutting/butchering them and rendering them useless. After that we cut the tenderloin off. Lucky for me I had already sliced through it while I was cutting away some fat. So my 30 dollar piece was down to 20 dollars. I took out what I could. Then we cleaned further to get the T bone. That mother is huge–it was like 6 inches across and 14 inches long. We had to store the bones in a large tub-similar to what you would bathe a 2 year old in (if you can still do that 🙂 ). We will use it to get stock another day.
We then proceeded to cut of the veal. We de-fat some more but veal is kind of funky. It is like Baklava but with alternating layers of meat and fat. In the end, you have to leave most of the fat and it gives it flavor when you cook. Chef said to make stew with the diced up pieces. Well I filled two tubs with that stuff. You know when you order Wonton soup, well the double portion, I filled up two, to the top. Also, from my t bone, when I cut away that bones, well there was a huge piece of meat. Chef said to add to my take home stock. So really, I could serve 6-10 people. He suggested veal stew. Well I don’t think we will have a week of veal stew, so I am busy trying to find recipes for diced veal. I found 3 so far.
So, it is about 3 by now and we are packing away all this meat. We proceeded to clean up after. We had dirty boards, bloody tables/aprons/knives and pots from cooking, plus silverware from eating and the trays from storing the meat and serving–it was like dishwasher boot camp. While we cleaned, the Chef started to work “his magic.” Concoction is the more appropriate word. He said that we would never have this again. He sauteed the kidneys that we so nicely cleaned. He made a mustard parsley sauce I believe, with some other things. It smelled okay but it was KIDNEYS. Oh, remember the endangered food list, lets go ahead and add kidneys, and liver ahead of time. So he put it in a nice skillet and got the tasting cups out and so the tasting began. I have to say, only after I threw it away did I wish I had tasted the sauce because all I tasted was kidney in my sample and I feel that the mustard sauce changed everything. A guy at my table loved it and took home like a double portion jar. They said it was similar to mushrooms–in retrospect, it kind of did.
Yeah so my day ended with a piece of kidneys. Well actually not, I tossed a pastry puff back after drinking some coffee just to cleanse my palette.
Oh the fun part–some genius, or some process caused water to strew out of the sinks and so we had another flood in the kitchen (yes it had happened before, 2 times). So the guys were catatonic. A girl and I proceed to mop it up. One guy helped and the others just watched–like it was a show. It was quiet and the teacher from the back asked, why the silence.
So another day in the neighborhood. We are off next week but I will provide you with my meals prepared on Valentines (pre VDAY actually) and then for my rents when they visit. Yummy veal stew, veal soup, sauteed veal, veal burgers……
Enjoy life, eat well!