Monday, August 21, 2006

Cuban food and whacking your bread (flour on my face)

Another excellent Culinary Communion class this past weekend: five hours of intensive immersion in Cuban cuisine. Including roasting a whole pig -- I guess you could say we went whole hog on this one, couldn't you ;-) A couple of really good things: ropa vieja ("old rags") made with flank steak instead of some of the other cuts I've seen for this dish. Really flavorful, and great with the Cuban white rice, which was made in a manner I'd never tried before, boiling oil and water together with the rice, not sauteeing it first for nice fluffy grains. And an incredible lamb picadillo stuffed into empanaditas, using puff pastry for the dough and then deep frying them. The pastry was a little greasy for me, but that picadillo was great! Which brings me to the Pan Cubano (Cuban bread). It was made with a different kneading technique: "whacking" the dough on the counter by picking it up in one hand, swinging it over your shoulder, and slamming it down on the counter. Fold it in half, give it a quarter turn, and do it again. Takes about 12 minutes to knead the bread, and takes out a few agressions to boot! HOWEVER!!!! It is very important to manage your bench flour carefully. I decided to bake bread today because I have starter that needed to be refreshed. So I tried the whacking method. Needless to say, I had a light dusting of flour pretty much every where in the kitchen and on me after doing this. Good thing my counters are pretty slick and I could cut down on bench flour. But still, a bit of a mess. Sure did turn out pretty though.

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