October 1, 2011

mass production

It happened pretty fast, a third of the semester went by and it was time for us to rotate into Chef Hammerich's section, or the mass production every day section.

My first station was prepping for Latin Quarter, a culturally-themed cafeteria outlet run by third semester students. We made things like carne asada and queso and mexican rice, which was what I did the first day on station.

mexican rice

And there you have it, a gigantic rondo (round pot/pan) full of mexican rice. Not hard actually, just sweat onions/garlic in butter, dump rice grains in and mix till shiny, then add water & canned tomatoes, season, and cover + simmer until done.

When I made mexican rice at home today I did a different take by using a rice cooker. I sauteed onions, mixed in fresh tomatoes, then some canned pasta sauce, then poured in the mixture into the cooker with rice and chicken stock (made by diluting "better than bouillon"). It came out pretty well.

I have to say though, after cooking massively quantities of things, home cooking begins to look like small peanuts. The stock pot I once thought was huge now looks like a bowl.

pasta sauce from scratch

(Said stock pot with homemade pasta sauce inside, roughly the one for this lasagna recipe.)

But really, I think that anyone who can cook at home can also cook massively. The processes are pretty much the same, it's mainly the equipment that's different (which makes it seem daunting). And the large quantities just mean that mise en place is ever more crucial, because at home you can afford to zip back and forth between the refrigerator and prep, but in an industrial kitchen? Fuhgeddaboudit!

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