If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, then you’ve probably gathered that I like to cook—and I want to learn more about how to perfect my craft.
I took a step toward that this weekend: I attended a cooking class at Bekins Real Cool Cooking School inside a home appliance store in Grand Haven, about 20 minutes south of Muskegon.
I had my choice of dozens of themed class—some centered around specific dishes, such as sushi, stroganoff and seafood soup, and some themed around basic techniques, such as pasta-making, roasting and poaching and steaming. I chose to go with two technique-based classes (roasting this month and poaching and streaming next month), with the hope that I would learn something I would use in perpetuity, rather than in the near future or for a special occasion.
The “chef’s kitchen” is in the very back of the store, set in between a display of cabinets, ranges and dishwashers. Chef Tom Reinhart has a wealth of culinary knowledge and shares it with others through two or three classes each week. The classes are not interactive—in other words, participants do not cook anything, but rather sit and listen and observe the chef—but are informative. (I was a bit caught off guard by this aspect of the school, because I had attended a class in Lake Geneva last year and was a part of the whole process, from choosing ingredients, to cooking, to plating.)
Reinhart demonstrated two different roasting techniques on two 2-pound beef top round tips (the tip of the top round cut): The first involved seasoning the meat with salt and pepper and searing it on all sides in a screaming hot pan, then slow roasting it in a medium-heat (335 degrees) oven. The second involved seasoning the meat with a chili-based rub and putting it in a high-heat oven (450 degrees) to “sear” or brown it, then roasting it in a slightly lower-heat oven (425 degrees).
Reinhart also demonstrated roasting on vegetables—red potatoes and carrots, both drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
He cooked the meat to between rare and medium-rare (about 120 degrees), removed both roasts from the ovens, tented them in aluminum and covered them in dish towels and allowed them to rest and come up to temperature (135 degrees). He cooked the potatoes until they were golden brown and crispy on the outside and the carrots until they were slightly browned and tender.
Reinhart carved up the roasts to reveal some interesting differences between them: The roast that had been pan seared then oven roasted “bled out,” or let out its natural juices, far more than the roast that had been totally oven roasted. He also topped the potatoes with grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley and sozzled (Yes, that’s a technical term, right Mom?) the carrots in a bit of butter.
We tried pieces from both roasts along with a helping of each of the sides. What a delicious lunch!
Overall, I enjoyed my time Saturday afternoon. I realized I already knew quite a bit about roasting, but I picked up a couple tricks and interesting factoids. (Did you know roasting and baking are pretty much the same thing, but the terms got separated in the late 1800s?)
I am anxious for my next class, and I now am curious about the dish/food-specific classes. I definitely would return, but I might choose different classes based on the fact that they’re more “sit and get” and less hands on.
Have you ever taken a cooking classes? If you haven’t, what would you want to learn about?