They are doing very good things over at everyday wine + cook in Kerrytown. The new-ish retail store has become a fairly regular destination for me. Not only is the space gorgeous, the staff incredibly knowledgeable, and the kitchenware pleasingly designed (note to self: buy some canteloupe and lime colored bamboo bowls, on the double!), but the kitchen is now open for classes and private events. Back in February, Michael and I took a knife skills class, which taught us the proper way to sharpen our knives using a wet stone (so very cool) and a steel, as well as professional techniques for chopping/ dicing/ mincing. (Maria apparently learned “supremeing” at her solo session last month, but we were not so lucky.) We practiced on unsuspecting onions, garlic, celery, carrot, and herbs. I definitely corrected a few bad habits, like scaping up stuff from the cutting board with the knife edge pointing at my hand, but I still need to dedicate some quality time to make the new techniques not so new.
Luckily, I had a chance to polish up a bit on Sunday at Meat 101, where the focus was on braising, sauteeing, grilling, and roasting. Four students (two of whom you know from G3, Maria and Michael) and I were set to the tasks of chopping and pounding and marinating and whisking, while Chef Chewy (seriously, that’s his name) brought it all home by deftly cooking the dishes and patiently answering all of our questions. We prepared:
- roasted chicken with pan gravy
- osso bucco
- jerk pork chops
- marinated flank steak
Oh, yeah. Carnivore’s delight.
Each was expertly prepared and delicious. It was a lot of meat to eat in one sitting, but at the end of a 3 hour class, and even though I was suffering from a pretty miserable head cold, it was satisfying to be able to sit around with other people who are curious about food and talk shop with them and Chewy. The techniques will take lots of practice in the kitchen, but here are some tips that I took away with me.*
- Don’t cut meat open to test for doneness. Doing so releases the delicious juices and will dry out the meat. Instead, use a digital meat thermometer.
- Get yourself a chinois strainer; it’s conical in shape and has a relatively fine mesh. Chewy used one for the osso bucco, and it strained the liquid nicely for reducing.
- When braising, don’t salt until after you reduce the liquid.
- Be patient when sauteeing and grilling (or doing anything in the kitchen, really). If you fidget and fuss with the meat while it’s browning, it will never develop fond (the brown bits that stick on the pan that help to make a delicious pan sauce). When grilling, don’t press the spatula into the meat or you’ll press out too much juice.
- I learned what demi-glace is, finally (veal stock that you reduce pretty much to a gel). And that you can buy it at Sparrow for about 4 bucks for 8 cubes.
- Meat doesn’t need to go the table super hot. Totally fine to cook and let it rest.
- Something about women being “supertasters”–our tastebuds are apparently more receptive than men’s. (A sentiment which I just love and convinces me of the rightness of the name of this blog, since Gastronomical Three has always connoted “superhero” to me.)
- Maria was right: flat iron, hanger, and flank steaks are pretty interchangeable cuts. Since it’s a pretty tough cut, it takes well to a marinade.
- There hasn’t been a case of trichinosis in the States since the Truman administration, so don’t cook your pork to well done! Medium is just fine.
- I think I will try my hand at those jerk pork chops, and I will serve them with sweet potato fries and a jicama/carrot slaw, dressed with a honey-cilantro dressing.
*This is a highly selective list–notes to myself based on stuff I didn’t already know. Though writing it all down makes me feel sort of silly.
For more information about classes at everyday cook, as well as other gastro-events in A2, check out our Google calendar.
To register for classes, get in touch with EC: