Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Class Cut-Up

When my neighbor Susana first announced that she and a friend were going to start a cooking school, I was understandably excited. After all, both women are professional chefs with years of experience teaching at two of Portland's best culinary schools. Knowing them, I expected they'd offer a bit more than the run-of-the-mill, watch-and-nosh classes you find locally, maybe even allowing folks to (gasp) actually get their hands dirty.

I should have known better.

In their first month of operation the newly launched Portland's Culinary Workshop offered classes on sushi, Brazilian cuisine, knife skills, Asian dumplings, how to break down a chicken, making meals with raw foods, making baby food, pastas and sauces, as well as butchering pig and lamb. And that's just for starters. These gals are bent on having fun with class titles like "Mind Your Meat Mistress," "Gettin' Saucy in the Kitchen" and "Sexy Couples Class." With side trips that include watching your instructor debone a chicken. Blindfolded. How cool is that?

Melinda Casady (top photo), the mistress in the title of the meat class and no slouch with a meat saw, led a recent class on breaking down a whole lamb into its component parts. I was a little disappointed it came without the head on (upper left), but when Melinda had us grab knives and hack saws and have a go at the carcass (taking turns, of course), I was all in (right).

In approximately 90 minutes we had dismembered…I mean butchered…the entire lamb (left), learning how to debone the leg roasts, whack some fine shanks, pare out the ribs into lovely lamby lollipops and save all the meaty scraps for ground lamb and stew.

Not bad for a couple of hours on a Saturday, especially considering we got to divvy up the meat we'd just butchered and bring it home for some mighty fine eating (and bragging).

Details: Portland's Culinary Workshop, 807 N Russell St. 503-512-0447.

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