24x24 Pan to Plate Sauces

Highlights from the class

  • I got to light brandy on fire, and I didn't even burn off my eyebrows (or John's)!

  • I pissed off the chef-instructor by asking him what I could use instead of the copious amounts of salt he put on everything, you'll learn below this is a major step. (don't worry I didn't really phrase it that way.. but I DID piss him off, whoops)

  • I pissed off the chef even more when I asked him what I could use instead of the copious amount of butter he was putting on everything (are you seeing a trend here)

  • We got to eat a delicious three course meal (that was still healthy- ha take that instructor!) cooked by yours truly and the husband!

Chef Instructor showing us how to set fire to things

Ok lets take a few steps back. This month I got to participate in Foodbuzz's monthly 24x24 project! My idea was for John and I to head to a cooking class at the NY wine and culinary center to learn how to properly saute and make amazing pan to plate restaurant style sauces.

John with his professional plating skills

Here's what we learned:
The biggest rookie mistake is not heating your pan before you add the oil, this is a HUGE mistake many many people make. The deal has to do with the metal pores opening up when it heats, if you put the oil in first those pores don't get coated as well. So if you take anything away from this, heat your pan, then add the oil.
Course 1: shrimp & scallops with spinach garlic, roasted red peppers, in a lemon and white wine sauce.

If your pan is too deep your items wont brown (since it wont get hot enough). If your pan is too small things wil be crowded and not brown, and not create a fond (translates to foundation, this is the base of your sauces). If you pan is too large your fond will burn.
Cooking Course 2: Pork!

You should cook to order, this means cooking a little at a time, you can't cook for 6 people at once. Products should be dry when they go in the pan, otherwise they wont brown.
Course 2: pork cutlet with fingerling potatoes, onions, in a brandy apple cider sauce

Now step by step how to properly saute:
Step 1: portion protein to be sauteed, heat proper size pan, generously cover protein in salt (seriously) when pan is hot add oil, brown protein on both sides, add more butter, and drizzle butter over protein, remove from pan. Pour off extra grease but not the fond.
Step 2: Saute garnish (aka veggies: garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach...) add more butter...
Step 3: Deglaze pan: AKA set alcohol on fire. Remove pan from flame, add wine/spirits, place back on flame, it will catch on fire and burn out. This removes all the fond from the pan bottom. Let this cook awhile and reduce.
Step 4: Finishers, add something to rehydrate the sauce, apple cider vinegar, chicken stock, juice, Then finish off with butter, mustard, herbs, cream...
Serve at once

Now you probably want to know what John and I used instead of all that salt and butter huh? Well for starters we seasoned with spices instead of a copious amount of salt. We used things like black pepper, paprika, cayenne, and a little salt but not a ton. Then we used a little bit of oil to keep our pan lubricated. When things started getting sticky and burning we added a little bit of water. Oil was needed but truthfully there was no reason to keep pouring it on and on.
In the end the instructor wasn't at all helpful in teaching any alterations from his norm. When I asked him about not using so much salt he got defensive and said they didn't stock salt substitutes in their kitchen and questions what was wrong with us that we didn't want to eat salt... "ummm we just like to keep a lower sodium diet since it's in so many things already, and I don't use salt subs either... I just use less salt..." then he asked me "well what would you use then if you don't use salt!?" "umm spices?? but I was moreso interested in what you would suggest?" Yeah he wasn't a fan of me by any means.... good thing I didn't tell him I had a blog and would be posting the whole experience! :) (also the reason why there are no shots with his face!)
Course3: Chicken with green beans, garlic, and onions, in a white wine and spicy mustard sauce.

Drama or not, we had a blast and would go back for another class! One of the other chefs who wasn't teaching but was there to help out was super nice and friendly. I might need to look up what classes he's teaching :)

Have you ever taken a cooking class with a professional 4 star restaurant chef? Do you think you'd ask your questions like me (and keep asking even after your first got you in trouble) or would you pipe down and keep your trap shut?

Thank you Foodbuzz for sponsoring us and making this meal possible!

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11 chews:

Jeanne said...

The food looks seriously awesome! Too bad the teacher wasn't the best. And... um... did I ever tell you about the time I did nearly burn off my eyebrows when starting the bbq...? Yes. Not one of my finer moments. But I was a silly highschooler! haha. I suck(ed).
Fun class! Glad you got to do it! 

Lisa_earlymorningrun said...

Looks like an amazing dinner! I'm glad the chef didn't ruin your experience, but he does sound pretty annoying. I also use very little (read: none) salt and butter, so I would have asked the same things! It kind of scares me how much of those two ingredients are in all restaurant meals.

I've never taken a cooking class, but my husband and I did take a knife skills class with a chef. That was really interesting. I'm not really interested in taking the advanced class though because I'm personally not all that interested in learning how to butcher a whole chicken.

I set up a pan sear class for a bunch of us from work a couple of years ago through Wegmans. It was a total blast and since they are so health conscious there, I think your questions would have been just fine. Hard to believe you are the only person who's ever asked in all those classes. They need to find a better instructor.

Barbara said...

Hooray for sticking up for those of us who choose a less salty life, or have it chosen for us!  There are a few restaurants who will honor your wishes that way, and even a gluten-free meal (Outback being one).  Just call ahead.  I have not found a decent substitute for butter, however.  I won't eat chemicals and call them food.  There aren't many things I actually cook IN butter, but when it is necessary, it is necessary.  No other spread will ever touch my homemade bread, either.  Guilty as sin!

gah! lol no you never told me that story, glad it didn't burn off more of you!

Hmmm maybe I should hit up a wegmans cooking class next time!

I could use a good knife skills class... hmm maybe I should look into taking one next! Although I have no desire to butcher a whole chicken either! LOL

Did you happen to see my post about Melt. It's organic and made from other oils (and a little real butter) and it tastes delicious with 1/2 the saturated fat. You might be interested in it! http://stephchows.blogspot.com/2011/10/melt-frosting-and-chance-to-win-500.html

Simply Life said...

oh that class looks like it was so much fun with such a great meal to enjoy!

foodalogue said...

Great post for 24x24...it entertains and informs!

Tracy said...

Haha, love it! It sounds like you had so much fun; I'd totally love to do something like this!

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