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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cooking Class

Saturday night last, a small group of us runners, or "runners and the people who love them", took a private cooking class through The Social Table. Nine of us met in a professional grade kitchen down a dark stairway on west 51st street. Inside was a long table with 9 cutting boards, dangerous-looking knives, and 9 crisp white chef's aprons awaiting us, as well as 1 adorable chef named Rebecca, who looked like she was staying out late on a school night, although she has 10 years experience as a chef and teacher. We 9 friends looked around nervously at each other, kinda hoping Rebecca was simply going to cook for us, like a lecture-demonstration. However, The Iron Chef set us straight right away. We were to do our own cooking (see image to the left of Jen "Jenkins" J., wielding scary knife techniques)!

It hardly seemed possible, yet 3 hours later, we were gorging ourselves with 3-Star restaurant quality flank steak stuffed with veal, herbed Spaetzle, crispy cauliflower, and fruit cobbler. How was this magic possible? I actually can barely remember because we had also brought 8 bottles of wine, and drank most of them before dinner was served. However, of the few memories I preserved, these are my faves: Rebecca teaching us knife techniques before we were allowed to drink, learning how to cut a onion with no tears, watching the men folk mix veal with their bare hands, learning how to truss a stuffed flank steak.

I highly recommend taking this class with a group of friends, or signing up for one of her scheduled classes. Check out her website!

Here's a freebie recipe from our wild night. It's easier than it looks. Rebecca says the key is the get all your ingredients cut up before starting to cook:

Stuffed Flank Steak
Serves 6

For the Stuffing:
_ c. Olive Oil
2. T. Unsalted Butter
2 c. Bread Crumbs
1 lb. Ground Veal or Beef
2 Eggs
1 Small Onion – small dice
1 Celery Rib – small dice
2 Cloves Garlic – minced
_ c. Toasted Pine Nuts
2 T. Fresh Thyme
2 T. Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper

In a sauté pan heat the olive oil and butter and toss with the bread crumbs. Combine the remaining ingredients and lightly season. Set aside until needed

For the Flank Steak:
2 T. Olive Oil
1 Carrot – small dice
1 Medium Onion – small dice
1 Tomato – coarsely chopped
1 c. Beef Stock
1 c. Red Wine
Fresh Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Slurry (mix of cornstarch and water)

Take the flank steak and trim any extra fat off of it. Using a small, very sharp paring knife cut into the flank steak lengthwise and begin to cut a “pocket”. Lift the upper lip you’ve created and continue to carefully slice inwards to deepen the pocket. Cut until about _”-1” from the far side of the flank. Once you have a nice pocket formed stuff the flank with the meat mixture until it is nice and full. Fold the lower lip up and the upper lip down to form a “flank steak log”. Tie the roast and season the outside with salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pot heat the oil and brown the steak on all sides. Add the vegetables and seasoning and cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the stock and wine and bring to a simmer and cover. Cook at a low heat for 45 minutes or roast in a 350 degree oven.

Remove the meat from the pot and spoon off fat from the remaining liquid. Stir in the slurry and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Season to taste.

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