While I’ve been cooking my way through Secrets to Sautéing, one thing I’ve come to rely on is having Bridget Lancaster there in each tutorial to walk me through every single step of each new core technique and assignment. But as I get closer and closer to the end of the course, I can’t help but think about the promise virtual Bridget made back in the very beginning — that by the end of the course I could be cooking like a pro with just a “pan and a plan.” And I started to wonder at how I would manage on my own with just a skillet, a few key ingredients, and all of my notes from the previous lessons. Luckily, thanks to an unfortunate grocery list mix-up, I had six friends over for dinner and my chance to put my skills to the test and see if I’m any closer to that goal.
A Fortunate Accident
Because I couldn’t read an ingredients list appropriately — or maybe it was just some subconscious thinking about those sautéing and pan-searing steps from the previous lessons — I ended up with a cut of Chateaubriand in my shopping cart. And since I’ve never been one to let good food go to waste, I decided to roll with the punches and see what I could come up with in order to feed my friends. Time to wing it, using all of the skills I had learned in the Cooking School.
Take a deep breath and…
As much as I love feeding my friends great food, I do not enjoy letting them watch me sweat over the details. And when you have six friends from America’s Test Kitchen in the next room — the pressure was just a little bit higher. So when one started joking that it would be really great if I just happened to buy steaks again, I got an idea. I flipped to my notes on pan-searing, pulled out the Chateaubriand and a knife, and got to work.
Thanks to my notes from the pan-searing lesson, I knew exactly what to do once I had the meat cut into equal-sized steaks. A simple seasoning with salt and pepper, a hot skillet and warmed oven, and my new instant-read thermometer was all I really needed to serve up some perfectly cooked steaks. Once the steaks were on their way I grabbed a few other ingredients and got to work on the fond to create a simple port wine pan sauce to go with the steaks.
My stomach was in knots as I called my friends over to eat and I think I held my breath until everyone had cut into their steaks for their first bites. Fortunately, there was a quick response of a unanimous “Mmmmm!” and I let out a huge exhale of relief.
Save some room!
While everyone was happy with the quick menu substitution — and I was ecstatic that I did it all on my own — dinner was not over. I had one final required recipe (Maple-Glazed Pork Loin) to prepare in order to test my pan-roasting skills. So I headed back into the kitchen to get to work on “Round 2,” feeling better than ever.