One of my assignments in culinary school was to create a buffet menu to serve approximately 70 people. The best part of the buffet service was looking out of the school kitchen window and seeing my sister and friends waiting in line who had come to support me on the day of service. Some friends had to take off work, one drove from Chattanooga, and some friends surprised me! It was a great day! Another favorite part of this assignment was preparing the dishes at home and practicing on my friends and relatives.
We all know that meals made at home take a lot of work to translate to a buffet for 70, but first I'm going to share with you the dishes I made at home, with lots of love and labor (most of the labor comes from washing the dishes, ask my schoolmates and my sister!)
I'm pretty slow at navigating this blog site right now, so things will be broken up into separate blogs. It's too hard for me to edit one that has been published already, until I break down to pay for one. Plus I don't want to make the blogs very long in case you have a short attention span, like me!
I have loved Mexican food from the first time I ever ate at a Mexican restaurant in 1984 at El Zarape on Broad Street in Rome, GA. It's still there. A shout-out to my friend Susan Marks because we would eat Vegetarian #3 there at lunch. You started this, Susan! My favorite in Rome is Los Portales on Shorter Avenue. Let me give 'em a little plug here.
The main entrée I focused on for the buffet is the pork carnitas, made from Boston butt. GMC on Shorter Avenue has good prices on those at times. I found the recipe on Rick Bayless' website. I am also a long time fan of Chef Bayless because his specialty is authentic Mexican food. The photo is of my pork carnitas, but you can click on it to get Chef's recipe from my Pinterest account.
I'm not into writing my own recipes yet, but I'll get there. This is what I developed for class. Recipes for all of the items on the menu were separated among my classmates and we all worked together to make the buffet and serve it to the public. The original recipes for the menu are on my Pinterest account.
Pork Carnitas: To be shredded and served with warm flour tortillas, fajita peppers and onions, sautéed jalapenos, triple berry chipotle sauce, and chopped white onion and cilantro
35 lbs. of Boston Butt (Cut into 1 ½” to 2” slabs), separated into approximate 4 lb. batches
9-1/2 size hotel pans, 2 ½” deep
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Separate the slabs of pork by weight, placing approx. four pounds in each hotel pan, without being crowded. Liberally sprinkle with salt on all sides. Pour 1/3 cup water around the meat, cover tightly with foil, and bake for one hour.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Uncover the pork and cook until the liquid has completely reduced and only the rendered fat remains, about 30 minutes. Now, roast, carefully turning the meat every 7-8 minutes, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes longer. Remove the meat from the fat in the hotel pans. Sit the pans aside to use the fat for sautéing the vegetables. (Note to me: ask Chef about this). Break the meat into large pieces and sprinkle with salt.
Cover with foil and keep hot until service.
Red and Green Bell Peppers and Onions for Fajitas – Jalapeno Peppers, Separate
(maybe the tilt skillet will work here, but I’ve never used it)
9 Red Bell Peppers
9 Green Bell Peppers
3 Large Onions
6 Garlic Cloves
6 T Olive Oil, divided in half
6 T Lime Juice (from fresh limes) (for deglazing, if possible)
Wash the peppers, remove the stems, seeds and ribs. Rinse away remaining seeds. Peel the onions.
Cut the bell peppers into ½” inch wide strips. Halve the onion and cut it into thin slices. Place the vegetables into a bowl and mix in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic.
Heat skillet to medium-high heat. If possible, use the fat and deglazed pork for sautéing vegetables. Add remaining three tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Sear the vegetables for one minute before you stir them. Then every 90 seconds or so, stir them, scraping the bottom of the skillet using a spatula. Saute them for a total of five or six minutes. They should be soft and have a few charred spots.
Remove vegetables from the skillet to a hotel pan, cover and place in hot box to keep them warm.
Jalapeno Peppers, Sauteed
Jalapenos, Sauteed in Butter – served as a condiment to the Pork Carnitas
Take about 15 jalapenos, cut the stem off. Core out the middle removing the seeds. Slice the jalapenos into pretty little rings.
Heat butter in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add jalapenos and stir for about one minute, until soft but still a bright green. Add salt.
Triple Berry Chipotle Sauce – served as a condiment to the Pork Canitas
Triple Berry Preserves, Kroger’s Private Selection
Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce
White Onions, Raw, Medium Dice – served as a condiment to the Pork Carnitas
Cilantro – just cut off the long stems – served as a condiment to the Pork Carnitas Pioneer Woman on June 2 2007
Let me say thank you again to my family and friends for all of the support I got while working my way through school, whether you were being used as a guinea pig or just by your giving me a big "atta girl". Dished With Love for you!
Those of you who are close to me know that I LOVE food and I love to eat, and some of it's healthy and some of it's not. So....I am aware that I need to be more health conscious so when I find something healthy that I like I will share. This is one of those things that will make you feel better about that McDonald's Double Cheeseburger you had while on the road.
Tumeric Ginger Tea - let me show off my pretty little china tea cup. I bought it over 20 years ago with a gift card I received when changing jobs. This is the first time I've used it, it usually just sits on a shelf looking pretty! The story of the Tupelo Honey is, my sister and I stopped at a fruit stand in Florida, for brand new in season Vidalia onions, and overheard the manager talking about how good Tupelo Honey, grown in Florida, is good for diabetics because it doesn't crystallize and it digests easily. Hey, I don't know if it's true but it can't hurt anything as long as it really doesn't spike your blood sugar, right? Next, how beautiful is the color of that tea. If you haven't realized it yet, yellow is my favorite color! And Tupelo Honey makes me think of Elvis, but they're not related!
The tea is 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon of ginger. Add to eight ounces of boiling water, then bring it down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the tea and add honey, or not. I liked it either way. Like my cute little tea strainer? I found it for $3.99 at T.J. Maxx when out shopping with my Cousin Amy. I just put the spices in the strainer and dropped it into the water. I was surprised that the spices in this amount are very mild and I promise they are very pleasant to drink. They don't taste like you might assume if you've ever had a big bite of ginger. So, if you're interested in the health benefits of ginger and turmeric, including anti-inflammatory benefits, you can Google it, there's plenty of info out there.
I've just started exploring using different spices in teas for health benefits so I don't know much yet. If you have a favorite tea I'd love to hear about it! Happy Thursday, Friends!
I created a Mexican Buffet when I was in culinary school, trying to get as close to authentic Mexican cuisine as possible, however, by the time the buffet was presented the powers that be had revised much of it by "Americanizing" it, such as what you would find in any Tex Mex restaurant. The food was great, but not as I visualized it, written it, or prepped for it at home. The originals were a work of love and I'll be sharing those with you along the way.
This Roasted Tomatillo Enchilada dish was one of three contest entries I submitted to win an autographed copy of Rick Bayless' new cookbook, More Mexican Everyday. This dish was delicious, and even impressed my picky sister, but I will have to buy the cookbook! Here's the recipe! Happy Wednesday, Friends!
P.S. I was so eager to eat the enchiladas that I posted the picture before I added the crumbled queso fresco on top. Delicious!
Click photo to go to my Pinterest account for recipe!
A place to share my favorite things...friends and food, dogs, college football, and my inspiration, Sawyer, the most beautiful little girl in the world!