One kitchen. Eleven students. Fourteen…. cow butts?
Well, at least that’s what we called the steak we grilled at the second monthly BenGusto™ Buddy Cooking Class on March 27. I told my fellow chefs that we were grilling a top sirloin steak, which is a select cut of the primal loin, right to the left of the cow’s “round” (butt). Before I knew it, everyone was hopping around cheering about the cooked “cow butt”. Perhaps that’s why we all thought it tasted so darn good…
The March 27 BenGusto Buddy Cooking Class was carried through in dashing fashion. The menu, which consisted of grilled steak and sweet potatoes, was selected by my good friend, Chef Patrick, who was unfortunately unable to make it due to illness. We grilled in his honor!
One of our main focuses of the lesson was on using fresh herbs and hearty vegetables. We always try to cook healthy, and stay connected with the ingredients we use. So, before we commenced the steak and frites extravaganza, we worked together to prepare a little appetizer of roasted kale chips to get the gusto juices rolling. Beth did a great job of cleaning and handling the kale, and then Halle and CJ helped dress the fresh kale with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. After a few minutes in the oven, Marcus pronounced the kale to be nice and crisp, and we each tried a few with great pleasure and surprise.
After enjoying a pleasant snack of kale chips, we went on to one of the highlights of the lesson: the sweet potato experiment. Instead of going the normal “baked sweet potato route”, our audacious chef minds brought us to try roasting and grilling the potatoes. We had about five large, raw sweet potatoes sliced into thin french fries, and three sweet potatoes, already slightly boiled in water, cut into fat slices. Marcus and Beth were in charge of sweet potato test #1: roasting the thin fries. They dressed the fries, laid them out on sheet pans in olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and placed them in the oven to be roasted.
Experiment #2, lime and cilantro grilled sweet potatoes, was a full team effort. Just like everyone else on the team, I had never grilled sweet potatoes before. We had the thrill of unpredictable cooking!
Halle, Jair, CJ, Beth, and Marcus all worked on preparing the large, boiled sweet potato slices to be grilled. Beth and I discussed the beauty of cilantro, and proceeded in chopping it finely. Then I introduced the advantages of zesting, and how the true lime flavor lies in the peel. Everyone zested their way to the classical jazz playing in the background, as CJ dressed the zesty potatoes with safflower oil and chopped cilantro.
Then we returned to our favorite cow butt. We stepped outside into the true kitchen, the outdoors, as we breathed in the (finally) warm spring air. Everyone picked out their favorite cut of sirloin, gave it a brush of good olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. We all took turns flipping our steaks, and adding the potatoes onto the grill.
Marcus was the star of the day, as he single-handedly took the steaks off the grill and delivered them to his fellow hungry chefs (he was also our star gourmand seeing as how he ate two steaks himself).
At the end of the lesson, we all gathered around the table for warm steak and sweet potatoes. The result of the potato experiment? Both grilled and roasted potatoes are equally good (which is why we ran out of both)! Looks like I’ll be grilling potatoes more often…
A fantastic ending to another successful day in the world of good eating. Join the BenGusto™ Buddy Cooking Class next month for another exciting lesson on homemade pizza!
I want to give credit to Kirsten for taking the majority of these spectacular photos, and to Penny for filming some great shots, and for interviewing many of the chefs. BenGusto™ is currently looking to share the BenGusto Buddy Cooking Classes in the form of monthly videos in order to bring the action closer to all. Stay tuned for some video!