Our second buffet in this rotation had a Latin/Seafood theme. It was our last special buffet to work on so we really wanted to impress with great flavors and a beautiful display.
We had been preparing in the prior two classes for this night, my first drama of the evening was that I couldn’t find the frozen Bacalao fritters in the fourth floor kitchen. I raced around to other kitchens and finally found them in another freezer. It was important to get them out as soon as possible since they had to defrost before being fried. I made a pureed roasted red pepper and tomato sauce to go with the codfish fritters.
My big project for the evening was making a traditional Portuguese dish of Pork and Clams. I had the pork cubes in a marinade for two days and proceeded to dry off the meat and sear it in a large Rondeau. Once I was able to sear the meat in two batches I worked on caramelizing the aromatics that I used in the marinade. Once the Rondeau was deglazed I added the meat back with some flour to coat the meat. I stirred the dry mixture to cook out the raw flour taste and then added hot veal stock to braise the pork covered in a low oven (about 325 – 350 degrees).
After about 1½ hours I removed the pork from the oven, separated the meat from the aromatics and strained the cooking liquid. I began reducing the sauce and time was ticking away. The pork went back into the sauce and then the clams were added to steam open in the covered pot. It is very common to have roasted potatoes with this dish so I cubed Idaho potatoes and roasted them in duck fat in a convection oven.
Finally it was time to get our dishes out, I thickened the sauce with a mixture of room temperature butter mixed with flour. The sauce took on a velvety texture and I tasted it for seasoning. At the end of the night, I was proud of the dishes that I prepared and hoped that I brought a little of myself to the table.