Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Orchestra Grilling

Yes, it's finally happened. Following in celebrity chef Dave Lieberman's footsteps, I too have been named executive chef of something that needs absolutely no culinary direction whatsoever. Just as Lieberman is executive chef of Delta's Song Airlines, I have been named Executive Chef (well...social coordinator actually...but they're often the same thing) of the Amherst College Orchestra. After being granted the title of ACO's executive chef, I was determined to create more opportunities to use my skills (or lack thereof) than my celebrity counterpart.
What exactly does the executive chef of a budget airline do anyway? "For this snack box, I decided to pair yogurt with fruit. I really like the way the slightly sour creaminess of the yogurt contrasts with the tart sweetness of the citrus fruits. I've also included a Danish, the crispy flakiness of which provides a nice textural complement to the smooth yogurt."
"For this flight, I decided to go with the Fiesta Snack mix. The fiesta snack mix adds more of an international flair than plain pretzels. This will be paired with a lovely 2005 Diet Pepsi."

In any case, I created my first opportunity with the orchestra barbecue. Not content to serve the standard grilled fare of burgers and dogs, I ambitiously (read foolishly) decided to set up a grilled pizza line. People could top their own pizzas and bring 'em to me to finish on the grill. The toppings included ricotta, grated mozarella, fresh mozarella, parmesan, sausage, pepperoni, roasted peppers, fresh basil, tomato, garlic, grilled red onion, and mushrooms. My trusty team and I bought pre-made pizza dough at Big Y. The dough re-rose overnight in the fridge, causing it to bust open the door to my mini college fridge. In the morning, after smacking it down again, it was almost impossible to work with, but somehow we managed to make 50 rounds (sorta) of pizza dough. They were then given an intial grilling:
This grilled side was then topped with sauce and whatever toppings each person wanted. This was followed by a second grilling, raw side down, in order to melt the cheese and finish the crust. If you feel like doing this at home (because it's really pretty easy), I recommend using a mixture of brown butter and honey to brush the dough with before grilling, rather than olive oil. it gives the crust a nicer color and a bit of sweetness, which is good with that charry carcinogenic charcoal grilled flavor. Mmm...cancerous.
With the leftover dough, we made a huge pizza topped with every topping that was available.
During cooking, one of the sausages sprung a hole in the casing, causing a fountain of rendered sausage fat to stream out for a good 45 seconds, feeding a glorious flare up. That had nothing to do with anything, except that the sausage was the first toping to run out, and so we didn't have any to put on our giant pizza.
The whole thing is pretty foolproof. Any combination of toppings works well as long as they're cooked beforehand. My favorite combination to make at home is figs, prosciutto, fresh basil, and fresh mozarella. Just as it's coming off of the grill give it a splash of balsamic vinegar.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Very deserving of the Executive Chef title! This is very timely, since I'm going to a pot-luck cookout in a couple weeks.