Thursday, October 05, 2006

Day 2 of PCA II – This Little Piggy went to the Market…

This is one heck of a quarter. Tonight’s menu was Schnitzel, no you’re thinking Schnauzer that’s the cute dog with the mustache. It’s Schnitzel, no now you’re thinking Strudel that’s the one tasty pastry. Schnitzel is German for cutlet. We each got a pork tenderloin that we had to remove the ‘silver skin’, that tough membrane that protects the juicy goodness inside, and then cut 1/3 off to use for our Schnitzel. The other 2/3 was used for a sautéed pork tenderloin.

So first up Pork Schnitzel a la Holstein with a Traditional Garnish and Brown Butter.

The traditional garnish was a Gremolata made with anchovies, lemon zest and capers.
The pork was pounded out thin and then dredged in flour, dipped in egg and then into panko bread crumbs. It was then fried in a mixture of oil and butter. In another pan we melted about 3 ounces of butter and browned it. We also foamed it for presentation. This was a relatively simple dish. The cutlet was placed on the plate and topped with the gremolata. Then the butter foam was placed around it in small peaks, then a bit of the browned butter was drizzled over the cutlet. I took it up to Chef Romero for reviews. He criticizes in such a way you learn a lot. However this time I was floored. He tasted it and then tasted again and just looked at me and very seriously said “Take this to Chef Greenspan right now.” My face must have fallen to the floor. Why? Why must I take it to him I pondered and figured maybe Greenspan was an expert at Schnitzel and he would be the one to tell me what was wrong. I picked up my plate with what to be a very sad dejected look, because Chef Romero said “Red…it’s for him to eat” I stopped and looked and replied “Chef Greenspan is going to eat my Schnitzel?” He just nodded. I headed out of the class over to Chef Greenspan class and walked up and said “Hi Chef here’s your Schnitzel.” He smiled and said “So you made the best one eh? He only sends over the good ones. Hey nice foam!” I was speechless! As I came back into the classroom I had that stupid grin on my face.

That grin lasted all of 3 seconds because it’s time to fire off the next dish and it has a lot of components!

Next up is – Sautéed Pork Tenderloin with Salsify Puree, Sautéed Apples and Golden Raisins and Calvados Pan Sauce. (Calvados is an apple liqueur)

Stay with me here, because since I’m going to type this really really fast I expect you to read it even faster to get an idea of what it was like…and…GO!

Peel the Salsify and get it simmering in the milk and cream. Make sure to not get it too hot or it’ll boil over and milk burn is icky. Ok now get pork tenderloin marinating, it has to set in the marinade for 30 minutes. Ok that’s in the fridge, get started on the Cider Jus because we need this to make the pan sauce. This is going to take a bit. Caramelize the onions, deglaze, add stock and cider and let it reduce…come on…reduce! Check the salsify almost tender but something is amis that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’ll come to me. Cider jus is reducing, let’s start on the apples. These are peeled, cored, sliced and then browned in oil with salt and pepper. Once that’s done we add the Calvados – FLAME ON! Oh yeah…as everyone reflects back to PCA I and the Crepes Suzette and remembers their eyebrows fondly. Add the raisins and pull of the heat. Get the pork out of the fridge and get that pan hot. Let’s sear this baby! The happy sizzle noises start and we get seared on all sides and the end. Pop that bad boy onto a sizzle plate and get him into a 400° oven. WooHoo Salsify is tender, something still odd about this, but I get it over to the blender and whirl that stuff around and pour it back into my pan….ok found the problem. Seems when the person did the measuring for the salsify for everyone they didn’t exactly measure correctly. So my salsify that should have the consistency of mashed potatoes has the consistency of cream soup. Well this isn’t going to present nice at all being runny all over the plate and too late to start more. It’s time for ‘Recovery Mission’ (insert Mission Impossible theme music here) – Your mission Red is to take your liquid salsify and turn it into something consumable. You have 7 minutes to do this and you can choose 3 members from your kitchen utensils. This tape will self destruct in 10 seconds. (well if you wouldn’t mind just throwing it away because if I go up in a puff of smoke they’ll think something is burning and then you’ll just get more questions and…well…you get the gist) So over to my stove I go. I put the salsify on and get the heat back up and use a whisk to help move it all around and let it simmer and reduce. By whisking it I keep tension and allow the moisture to evaporate quicker than if I just let it simmer on its own.

While that’s reducing I get started on my pan sauce because my cider jus is reduced perfectly. I stain the jus into a clean pan, bring it back to a simmer, add Calvados and Dijon mustard and let it get to the perfect consistency and turn the flame off. Take out my tenderloin and let it rest, check the salsify and it’s coming along very nicely. I add the butter to my pan sauce to finish it off, slice my tenderloin. Let’s plate it up! A bit of salsify, lay out thin slices of the pork in front, put the apples and raisins around. Then take the pan sauce and dribble a bit around the dish and drape a couple of small spoonfuls over the pork itself. What a wonderful dish.

Yes I carry a camera with me and yes I forget to use it every time!!! ARG!!!

This dish is one I would definitely make again at home. Looking at all I am learning I wish I knew then what I have learned now when I redid my kitchen. I would have spent the extra money and gotten a convection oven. But that won’t stop me from having fun!

Tomorrow night is one of those nights someone will crack. Probably me. We have several dishes to prepare along with the fact that each dish has like 5 components and veggies. I wonder if I could drink the liqueurs….

Oh you thought we were done didn’t you? No, no you can’t leave yet. See we had to prep a couple of things for tomorrow. We had to take a rack of pork and fabricate our pork chops. Normally as this is done you end up with nice ribs and some nice chops. But we kept the ribs attached and Frenched them for a pretty presentation. But first we got to remove the chine bone(half of the back bone). Yeah you all don’t get the chine bone and if you did you’d never buy your meat from that butcher ever again. Removing this thing is a B*tch. We had to do 1 rack per 2 students. Guess who got to do the one for me and my partner. Yeah – moi. At least my partner (Edgar) is a great partner. He didn’t just sit there and watch like some of the other partners did. First because I was working on it and it was getting late, I was behind on a few dishes. Without a word he just came over and picked them up and did them for me. THANK YOU!! As my arm began throbbing from hacking at this thing with a clever that has the edge of a butter knife he came over and said let me help and he went at it for a while. Between the two of us we got it done. Then we had to trim the meat from between the ribs and clean them of all meat and sinew. This takes a while. So he started at one end and I at the other. We got our pork chops fabricated, 2 larger ones for stuffing and 2 thinner ones for marinating. Now it’s time to clean up and it’s 5 till 11pm and there is shrapnel everywhere! It looks like a bad scene out of a ‘B’ horror movie. Hahahaha!

So everything is done, kitchen is clean and chops are ready for tomorrow. Now you can breathe and close out this blog (smiles).

Until Tomorrow!


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