Day Three - Bruschetta

For today's class we focused on the widely recognized bruschetta (which, by the way, is pronounced "brew-sket-ah"). What most of us think of is watery tomatoes with droopy basil sitting on top of soggy bread. What was great about this lesson is that there were several ways chef chose to prepare them, and the combination of options became the beginning of the meal (though alone it would've been more than substantial).

I helped work on most of the brushetta, but I took more of a backseat approach today. There were a lot of vegetables to prep, but I wanted the other students to get a chance to hone their knife skills, and the only way to do it is by backing off and letting them practice. We started off with the tuna brushetta (which you can see on the top left of the photo). This had canned tuna, in olive oil, which was gently broken up and served with basil, green tomatoes and pickled onions (this was done with the same process as yesterday). Very simple, and very good.

Rotating clockwise, at the top you can just barely see the black kale bruschetta. This had black kale, which was boiled first, and then sauteed in olive oil. The final touch added uncooked finely minced garlic.

The next, the most recognizable, is the traditional bruschetta. This was done simply, again, olive oil, basil, and a pinch of finely minced garlic. Classic.

From there is a roasted vegetable bruschetta. The idea here is to cut the vegetables so they are easy to eat with the bread. Mine was a little overloaded, so I made a mess trying to eat this. Keep that in mind when you are planning on serving bruschetta for a party. On it were roasted fresh tomatoes, zucchini, swiss chard (including the stems) and a type of bean that I'm not sure we can get in the states. White cannellini beans would be a good substitute.

Finally, on the left side of the photo is the most interesting combination I've had yet. Here we have whole roasted eggplant, which we chopped up in a rough dice, and added mint, garlic, and olive oil. Mint and! Do this at home! I mean it!

Our main protein today was the roasted rack of pork. Chef Pardini removed the ribs, but the tied them back on with butchers twine. Sound weird? I'll explain: by doing this, he can remove the meat from the bones before it goes into the oven so that none of it is wasted, and also so that the roast cooks with the bones because it imparts so much more flavor. He then laid several strips of pancetta over the top, covered it with parchment paper, tied it again, and set it in the oven. About halfway through the cooking time, he poured wine into the pan and let it finish cooking. The meat was tender, and delicious, and was served with a side of roasted vegetables.

For dinner we had several platters of antipasti including some Genoa style salami and prosciutto as a first course. Our main course was a bean soup which included a wonderfully chewy grain called farro. It never really gets tender, but that's sort of the beauty of this grain. You want that bit of texture, especially in this soup where most of it is a pureed texture.

Chef Pardini also surprised us with a bonus dinner item. On the fly, he created (and no, this isn't a joke) eggs cooked in red sauce. Basically, you add canned tomatoes to a pot and add whole garlic, olive oil and red pepper flake. Then, take whole eggs and crack them into a bowl. Slowly pour them in (keeping the yokes whole). Do not stir the mixture! Turn down the heat and cover until the eggs are cooked. Oddly enough, I watched a program on Channel 11 the day I left for the trip and the chef prepared this exact dish. You wouldn't believe the look on my face when I saw what he was making. Amazing!

Until tomorrow, buona sera!



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