Days 60-66: Level 4, family meals, a saw and a machete

3 Oct

Day 59 was the midterm and we all passed! It wasn’t nearly as nerve racking as I had originally thought it would be. I drew #3, which was a great number. Victor served first, then Bobbie, then me. Mark followed, then Tomas was #5. We all made consomme and the thick-cut pork chops with pommes darphin. Mark and Tomas’s consomme rafts didn’t work but they both saved their dishes by adding egg whites. Great showing guys! The other 4 students made crispy skinned trout and the apple tart (the easier menu, I think).

Day 60 was the start of Level 4, which is family meal every day for 50-60 people, and charcuterie! This is a very fun level for me because I have had almost no experience butchering meat or cooking it. This is a very meat-intensive unit and nose-to-tail cooking, which I love (even if I don’t love the taste of offals). Here are a few pics of the pig, me assessing where to cut the pig, and then me taking the hack saw to it.

Ultimately, I used the “Mac” – machete – to make the final cut lengthwise through the pig after the hacksaw cut through the bones.

Here are the tools:

I made chorizo from start to finish, stuffing half in hog casing and half in lamb casing. This was my first time making sausage, so it was great to see the process from the beginning. Anne made salami and both of our charcuterie are hanging in a what is a converted, large wine cooler with humidifiers in it.

Here they are as well as picture of the pig casing:

Family meal means that every day we have a different menu we serve for lunch, buffet style, to the approximately 50-60 students and staff. The 9 of us divide up different dishes and tasks, with 1-2 of us acting as sous chefs and usually focusing on charcuterie while the other students focus on preparing a great lunch by 11:30.

You wouldn’t think that I would feel like cooking at home after cooking all day at school, but some days I do. On Friday, I made dinner for FK, Jeremy and Carnet. We had a pink lady apple and fresh crab salad with a lime-fish sauce-garlic-ginger dressing; lamb chops with an Asian-inspired pesto, and a tart tartine. Everyone agreed that the pesto was amazing. It went so well with the lamb, but would be good on any meat. I think it might be a bit strong for fish, so I might not use it on fish. At any rate, it’s really easy to make in a food processor. It’s an adapted recipe from The Steamy Kitchen by Jaden Hair. I love her recipes. Many are so full of flavor and easy. She also has a great blog at So, here’s the recipe.

Asian pesto recipe:

Yield:1-2 cups

3 cloves garlic
1/2 to 1 chili (I like red thai chilies)
3/4 cup roasted and unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup Thai basil or any sweet basil
1/2 cup mint
1-2 limes, juiced. Start with 1 and you can always add more
1 teaspoon coconut sugar (you can use regular sugar)
1-2 teaspoons salt (start with 1 teaspoon, you can always add more)
1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil (don’t use really good EVOO – it will add too much olive flavor)

Directions: Put pistachios in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add all ingredients until it’s a coarse paste. Adjust salt and lime to taste.

Off to Locanda Osteria for dinner with Igor. Happy Sunday!

2 Responses to “Days 60-66: Level 4, family meals, a saw and a machete”

  1. Bev October 3, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    Congrats on passing your midterm – all of your faithful followers knew that you would. (no pressure there 🙂 The only thing that sounds good to me is your Asian Pesto. What besides meat would work with it? Bean thread? Maybe?
    With hugs, Auntie Bev

    • al October 3, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      Looks just like the Steve Saba pig roasts of earlier days. dad

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