I felt like I was back in normal college this week because it was full of tests and full of studying.
If you follow me on Instagram and saw my stories, then you know I am in a food safety class in addition to my lab classes. This is a mandatory class that all culinary students have to take and pass an exam that allows them to be at the managerial level of a restaurant. I actually had to take this class in college too, but lucky for me, my certification just expired so I got to take it again! As boring as this stuff might be, like learning how high up off the floor storage racks have to be, or how bright a light in a dining room is required to be, there is some really valuable information that I somehow did not retain the first time I took the class…..sorry Dr. Wolf.
If there’s one thing that chefs and cooks do not mess around with- it’s sanitation. Which I totally appreciate, and I’m sure you do too- since you can trust that you can safely go eat at a restaurant and not get salmonella from your chicken.
There were a couple of points from the class (and the exam on Monday) that I think are really helpful to both the chef and the home cook:
- How to thaw your frozen proteins- there are only 3 safe ways to thaw your proteins, none of which were the ways that I have been thawing mine for the last 26 years…whoops. You can either thaw them under COLD running water, in the refrigerator, or in the microwave.
- Use a thermometer to determine when your proteins are done cooking! Not only will this keep them safe and make sure all of the bacteria is killed off, but it will prevent you from overcooking your proteins into a dry piece of leather, too! Just google what internal temperature to cook ____(insert whatever protein you are cooking) and remove it from the oven when it gets to that temp. Here is a cheap digital option if you don’t already have one.
- When eating leftovers, only heat up what you are going to eat- don’t heat up the entire pot of chili only to put it back in the refrigerator again.
Who knew! Well, technically I should have known….but that’s besides the point. Moving on…..
After taking that exam on Monday, I took the final exam for my food safety class.
We had a written exam of essay questions, a multiple choice exam, and a practical exam. For our practical exam, we worked in groups and developed and researched our own experiment and then executed it in class. My group wanted to test the differences in taste of garlic when it is minced, microplaned, and crushed in a mortar and pestle. Just a word to the wise- microplaning your garlic turns the garlic into a super potent flavor that burns your mouth. Crushing it in a mortar and pestle causes a slightly less burn of the mouth, and the minced garlic was the most subtle flavor.
The other thing we tested was how a brine vs a cure affected the tenderness of a pork loin. So to test this we put one loin in a brine for 24 hours, one in a cure for 24 hours, one in a brine for 2 hours, and one in a cure for 2 hours, and then we compared all of these to a loin that was cooked without anything done to it. I won’t bore you and get into all of the nitty gritty details, but I WILL say that I will always brine my pork from here on out.
But what even is a brine??
It’s just a fancy word for a water and salt solution that you place the pork in like a marinade, but it has no other flavor to it. The point of it is to make the pork more tender and juicy. Capiche?
And once all of those tests were out of the way, we started our final class for this trimester. It’s a hospitality class where we learn proper etiquette for serving, how to properly set a table, different silverware used for different items, etc. If I am being totally honest, I’m not super into this class, so I have some things up my sleeve for my “culinary school recaps” the next two weeks so I don’t bore you with rules on having the plate be 1/2 inch away from the edge of the table and so on and so forth. So stay tuned!
Thanks for reading! Now go brine your pork!
To read more about the behind the scenes of culinary school, start and week 1 and read on! My purpose behind writing these posts is for you to have an up close and personal look on what it really looks like to be in culinary school day to day. It’s a seemingly mysterious process that I want to let you in on. Some days are more eventful and insightful than others, but that’s how it goes. I’m showin you the good the bad and the ugly. Come take a peek inside.
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