Monday, October 23, 2006

A Diller, a Deli, and a Full Belly!

We've moved on from short order cooks to deli workers! My tuition dollar at work...

Today in Pantry class, we worked on cold sandwiches--we did the basic club sandwich, some watercress and cucumer-herbed cream cheese tea sandwiches, a grilled vegetable pita, and my favorite for the day: Turkey Sandwich with Sweet & Sour Onions. The onion part was the bomb!, and I would have never suspected that it went together so well. Here's the recipe; you may want to cut it down, since it serves 10, but trust me, it rocked.

Turkey Sandwich with Sweet & Sour Onions
(10 portions)

20 oz onion julienne (sliced very thinly)

4 fl oz clarified butter

4 fl oz soy sauce

8 fl oz duck sauce (found in Oriental markets)

4 fl oz water

1/2 tsp garlic powder (or as needed)

ground ginger (or as needed)

20 slices bread, lightly toasted

2 1/2 lbs thinly sliced roast turkey

20 tomato slices

20 oz thinly sliced Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. To prepare onions, saute them in clarified butter until transparent. Add soy sauce, duck sauce, and water. Simmer until onions are fully cooked and dry. Season with garlic powder and ginger to taste.

2. For each sandwich, spread some of the onion mixture on 2 slices of toast. Cover with sliced turkey. Spread additional onion mixture over the turkey. Place tomatoes on top of onion mixture, then cover the tomatoes with Swiss cheese.

3. Bake in 350-degree oven until the sandwich is heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve open faced.

Truly, it was great sandwich and a good presentation. The onions added an extra boost to what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill turkey sandwich.

We also did some prep work for an event that happened this evening. The Chiclet and I peeled an entire bag of cipollini onions, which are little fat sweet onions. I've had them pickled (sort of) before from an olive bar, but the ones we made tonight made the others pale in comparison. First, we sauteed them whole in some butter and oil, getting them good and carmelized on the outside. Then, we popped them in the oven to finish cooking, and when they were soft, Chef Pantry drizzled them with honey and balsamic vinegar, and they went right on up the scale to sublime.

Head Chef had asked the Chiclet to find a couple of people to help with this event, and then essentially told her to pick me and the Woman Who is Way Older Than Me, Which Makes Me NOT the Oldest Student, henceforth known as Older Woman.

The gig was a product presentation and cooking demonstration, which was kind of like a Tupperware party for chefs only with some extremely high-end meats instead of plastic storage containers. Whee hoo! This is my kind of party. We put out a huge chunk, like a quarter wheel, of real Parmigiana cheese with some proscuitto and mortadella (basically Italian bologna), and some incredible balsamic vinegars. One of them was 20 years old, and it practically crawled out of the bottle because it was so thick and sweet. One had been flavored with juniper, and it was lovely. These are not the balsamics you make dressing with; they are more like high-end olive oils that are drizzled over something to finish it. Just amazing stuff!

We grilled up some of the products for the chefs to taste, and made some rosemary roasted potatoes, some blanched asparagus, those heavenly onions, and a bunch of classic steak sauces, like Bordelaise, Morel Mushroom, etc. I even got to taste a truffle shaving. It was a black truffle, and it tasted kind of earthy, but not like any other mushroom I'd ever had. They came in a can, which costs $60! Small ones that Rotel tomatoes come in...60 bucks!!! And, who knew you could get them in a can? I always figured they arrived in armored trucks.

After the chefs had eaten and were talking, we got to load up our was an Atkins dieter's fantasy, I tell you. This was some of the best beef I've ever had. It was tender and tasty and, and, and costs more than I can usually afford. It was actual "prime" beef, and only a small percentage (less than 5%) of beef ever receives the Prime designation. We don't usually see it in the grocery store, because most of it goes to restaurants and hotel/club operations.

They also had some Wagyu beef from Oregon. Wagyu are Japanese cattle...the ones that produce that platinum-plated Kobe beef, those Japanese cattle. Not that we got to taste any of that...the chefs, they are no dummies, they ate it all. And, who could blame them?

Wonder if the California Cheese cows are as happy as the Wagyu ones? (Their commercials certainly are hysterical..."do you think cows are pretty?"...never fails to send me into fits of hysterical laughter...but then again, depending on what day it is, lots of things send me into fits...of hysterical laughter.) And, have you ever seen an "Oreo cow?" It's the damnedest thing...cow looks like a freakin' Oreo cookie...sort of.

Cow...Oreo...Oreo...Cow...Uma...Oprah...oh, hell, it's late and I'm going to bed and dream of Oreo cows jumping on my plate!

P.s. The real name for the Oreo Cows are Belted Galloways, or "Belties".


Linna said...

The onions for that turkey sammie sound *wonderful*! You've obviously made an impression on the Head Chef if Chicklet was pressured to pick you (like she wouldn't anyway). Does this count toward your public service points?

I've never had truffles, but I've always been curious what the fuss was about. $60 a can?!! I think I'll stick with grocery store mushrooms.

The Galloways look a lot like Dutch Belted cattle. Dutch Belted are milk cows, and they are getting pretty rare. In our agri-business economy, the more unusual breeds are at risk of disappearing. It used to be that every region or even town had its own kind of chicken and pig, bred to local conditions. A lot of those breeds (especially the pigs) have died out because nobody keeps a pig in the backyard for bacon any more. (Except maybe Martha Stewart and her fresh brown eggs.)

Kim said...

That sandwiche looks and sounds good, I will have to give it a try. I've seen more of the Dutch Belted, but have heard of Galloways. Most around here are the regular black and white milk cows (I can't think of their name offhand). The California Cheese cows make me laugh, I like their commercials.