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!
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!