American Regional, New England

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This was a very different week in American Regional. Thursday we were preparing to serve 60 people on Friday food from the New England region of America. A local high school was bringing their culinary club/class to the Art Institute to view the school, come to our class and see a demo from Chef, "help" us out a little, and see if any of them were interested in becoming future students at AI. I didn't get very good pictures because everything happened so quickly with the students there and we didn't actually plate anything, as it was all in hotel pans for the buffet.

Usually each group is assigned one "menu" to prepared which includes an appetizer, salad, soup, entree, sides, and dessert, or any combination of these items. This week, however, our groups were assigned a category instead of a menu. My group was assigned the entrees. The entrees this week were New England Boiled Dinner (AKA Corned Beef and Cabbage) and a Turkey Roulade served with a cranberry sauce, a horseradish sauce, and stuffing with gravy.

We had to multiply each recipe by 12 to make enough for everyone, except the turkey roulades. The reason for this was that Chef wanted each group to learn how to debone a turkey and create the roulades. Our job, as the entree group, was to cook off all the finished roulades. We began, after multiplying out the recipes, by creating a time line of what needed to get done Thursday and Friday and what order we needed to do it in. Chef, I believe, tried to split all the "seniors" up among the groups so each group had one member that is further along in their schooling. I completely understand this approach, and don't disagree. We all had our own "burdens to bear" because of this method, though.

My burden was a guy who has extreme sanitation issues on the opposite end of the spectrum from my OCD-ness. All through Thursday, my tablemate and I were trying to nicely remind the third member of all the rules and regulations that he was breaking, and eventually we had to go to Chef to speak with him about the issue. It is completely unsanitary to dip fingers into a dish, lick your fingers and keep cooking, and then stick said fingers BACK into the food that we are about to serve to guests. That's what disposable tasting spoons are for. It is unsanitary to place veggies on a cutting board, whether or not they are still in their bag, that has just had raw turkey on it. It is completely unacceptable to go get towels from the dirty towel bag because you cannot find any clean ones. These are just a few of the issues we were having.

In any case, we were able to make our way through. We prepared both sauces on Thursday since they could be held easily and were to be served cold. We got the corned beef on to simmer for a couple of hours Thursday so we could just finish it off with the veggies on Friday. We prepped all the veggies to be cooked for Friday and labeled them for easy use. We got all the parsley chopped and held for garnish the next day. We prepped everything for the roulade, including the forcemeat to go in the center, so we just needed to assemble, truss, and cook off Friday morning.

Friday we came in and we had done a wonderful job of getting everything done the day before that needed to be done. We put our corned beef back on and brought it to a simmer and added the veggies. Then we pulled the beef only off, and put it in a hotel pan with some juices to slowly finish cooking in the oven to be extremely tender by the time the guests showed up. We finished the roulade and gathered the other groups roulades to cook off. We prepped and made the stuffing and the gravy. We were ready.

The high schoolers showed up and watched the demo from Chef on how to de-bone a turkey, create a farce, and roll up the roulade and truss it.

Then they were split into groups to "help" us finish everything off. Our group helped slice the corned beef and roulades and put them into hotel pans for service on the buffet line.

Finished turkey roulades, waiting to be sliced-

The inside of the turkey roulade-

Corned Beef sprinkled with parsley on top of turnips, potatoes, cabbage, and broth-

Most of them seemed really excited to be there and very willing to jump in and get their hands dirty. It was fun to see their enthusiasm and it was an interesting change of pace "catering" this event.


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