By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
Summertime is here.
Ah, the season of so many weddings has seemingly come to a screeching halt, much to the chagrin of brides and grooms the world over. For caterers, weddings are our bread and butter, and as restaurants have felt the striking blow of the pandemic, so will caterers as our seasons come to pass us by.
It is with great hope that we keep our fingers crossed every time there is a press conference.
Until we reopen to capacity, though, I am here to maybe teach you a thing or two about cooking; stupid little tricks that can make a world of difference.
I am no Boulud or Michelle Richard, although I did work for one of them. I’m just a dude who wants to make some decent grub.
As we start to reacquaint ourselves with family members that we haven’t seen in months, I think it may be time to start hosting little social-distancing parties, responsibly held of course.
And nothing says summertime party to me more than a pile of grilled foods and a bar full of crisp, cold beverages.
At most of our catered events, we offer fingerling potatoes, one of my all-time favorites, but I am about to let you in on a little secret.
This is something that I learned decades ago, and it still blows my mind that it’s not done as a requirement.
Yes, we should establish Roasted Potato Purity Laws like the Germans did centuries ago, when beer had to be brewed to daunting specifications on the fear of death.
Let me backpedal on that. Perhaps this is a bit bold. The way you cook your potatoes is the way that you cook your potatoes. It doesn’t bother me a bit.
So, in a nutshell, if you are roasting potatoes, whether whole, halved or diced, always blanch them in salted water and then let them steam out.
I like to cook mine until they are pretty much done and overhandling them will make them fall apart. Carefully straining them and letting the steam escape, you are left with a fluffy potato with a great bite on the outside. Simple yet effective.
That’s it. Blanch them. Drain them. Let the steam escape. And in no time, you’ll be catering weddings on your own after your friends and family eat your food and convince you to make the best career move of your life. You’re welcome.
Grilled Sirloin Cap
8# Sirloin cap (aka coulotte or picanha)
Liberal amount of trimix or favorite seasoning
3# Roasted potatoes (recipe follows)
1 c. Basil puree (recipe follows)
4 c. Sautéed mushrooms (recipe follows)
- Typically, sirloin cap is sold with a very thick fat cap which should be trimmed to a nice quarter-inch white edge.
- By the time you trim this off, you will be at a more reasonable weight for the number of guests.
- Season liberally and set aside for about 20 minutes while the grill is heating up.
- Grill or spit-fire your picanha until it is to the temperature of your liking, and then remove from the fire to rest for at least 10 minutes. This gives the muscle time to relax again.
- Slice the beef and serve it with the roasted potatoes and mushrooms and then drizzling the basil puree over anything that your little heart desires.
3# Fingerling Yukon Gold potatoes
Melted butter, unsalted
Trimix and fresh herbs, to taste
- Bring the potatoes to a high simmer in the salted water and cook until fork tender.
- When tender, strain and allow them to “steam out” for at least ten minutes
- Toss in the remaining ingredients and then roast in a high oven until they are nice and toasty.
- Remove and allow to rest for at least ten minutes and serve.
Makes about 2 cups
1 large bunch fresh basil
1/2 c. Fine red wine vinegar
a splash or two of sherry vinegar
trimix or your own seasoning blend, to taste
EV Olive oil, as needed
- Pick the leaves from the basil, but do not be afraid if some of the stems get in there. These tend to be more bitter, but the salt in the trimix actually helps our tongue to mask these bitter flavors. That is a little trick I learned years ago from a French food scientist.
- Place all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender except for the oil.
- Blend on high, adding oil as needed until you have a lovely puree. It will be very light, as you just incorporated a great deal of air bubbles into the medium. As they rest and dissipate, you will be left with a bright little sauce.
- Keep refrigerated until needed.
3# Fresh mushrooms, a variety of your choosing
1/2 # Unsalted butter
1 lemon, halved
1 c. Dry white wine, or as needed
Trimix as needed
- Clean the mushrooms and melt the butter in a pan large enough to fit them.
- Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly. As mushrooms are mostly water, they will release said water and quicken the cook time.
- As the water starts to evaporate, squeeze the lemon for the juice and add the wine.
- Mix and adjust the flavors to your personal preferences
— Paul G. Suplee is an
Associate Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College.
Find his ePortfolio at www.heartofakitchen.com.