Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dinner With A Purpose

I don't know about you, but I learn by doing. I love reading, and I certainly learn plenty that way, too. But hands-on learning seems to be glue for my brain.

I'm guessing that some Stafford High School culinary students learned more in a day than they would have reading textbooks for a week. For a recent fundraiser dinner at school, SHS alumni Barry and Meta (Newell) West shared skills they developed working at the former Kirby House Restaurant in Abilene. 

The students diced.
They sliced.
They stirred.
They sauted.
They baked.
Then they set the table.
They made things pretty.
And they served a delicious three-course meal to 29 people.
Barry and Meta then "schooled" the adults who came to the dinner through demonstrating the techniques they refined through years at the Kirby House and at similar cooking demonstrations throughout the state. (The overhead demonstration mirror in the newly-remodeled culinary kitchen came in pretty handy during their presentation.)
As I said, I learn by doing. So, I experimented with some of the Wests' recipes at home. The Wests served a pork loin and mustard sauce for their main dish at the fundraising dinner. It would make a delicious Easter dinner.

But since we have beef in the freezer, I seasoned ribeye steaks and then grilled them. The mustard sauce was equally tasty on beef, my taste tester and I concluded.
Barry's Multi-Mustard Sauce
1 small white or yellow onion, minced
2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp. chicken concentrate
1 cup white wine (such as Beringer White Zinfandel)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 to 1/3 cup yellow mustard
1 tbsp. dry mustard
1-2 tbsp. whole mustard seed
2 cups heavy cream

In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, saute minced onions in olive oil until tender. Add the chicken concentrate to onions and simmer about 1 minute. Add wine and then the four mustards. Stir in a whisk to mix. Add cream and summer until reduced to sauce consistency.
One thing the new school kitchen doesn't have is natural light. The plate with the Peppered  Pork Loin, buttermilk mashed potatoes and sauted vegetables was beautiful, but the color in this photo is a little off. Notice the carrot rose they used to garnish the plates.
Barry's Peppered Pork Loin
(Serves 10-12)
1/4 cup peppercorns (or use 3-4 tbsp. ground pepper)
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 3-4 tbsp. dry parsley
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. coarse salt
2 1/2-pound pork loin
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Trim excess fat and silver skin from the loin. Brush with Dijon mustard. Combine peppercorns, bread crumbs, parsley, salt and olive oil. Spread the peppercorn coating mixture out on parchment paper. Roll loin in coating and press to help mixture adhere.

Place on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and bake until internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees (about 20 minutes per pound). Barry says they prefer to cook to a temperature of 180 degrees; the coating keeps the meat moist and very tender.

Allow loin to rest at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Pork loin can be coated in advance and refrigerated. Bake to desired temperature prior to serving.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
(Serves 6-7)
6 to 7 cups russet potatoes, peeled (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp. butter
Salt and white pepper to taste

Cut peeled potatoes into 1-inch chunks and cook in salted water until tender. Mash potatoes in large bowl. Stir in buttermilk and butter. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. 

For more information about the new culinary arts program at Stafford High School, click here. For more about the partnership between Stafford County Flour Mills and SHS, click here.

Today, I'm linked to Wake Up Wednesdays at Wichita blogger Ashley's Kitchen Meets Girl.

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