School Food for dinner? Yes, when it’s Tantalizing and Tasty Ranchero Beans!

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about what’s being served in school cafeterias around the country. Take it from me, the best way to find out what’s being plated in K-12 is to actually go to the schools and have lunch yourself. I work with schools around the U.S. and let me tell you there is some wonderful food around the country with creative ways of serving happening every day!

I suppose you could give an example based on new regulations that are taking place. But really those healthier options, even before the new regulations, have been putting school foodservice at the forefront of tasty recipes from one of the most demanding groups of customers there is – your kids.

The K-12 market segment food manufacturers have done a marvelous job with reformulating and reinventing a lot of the tasty treats your kid’s love to eat. Add in scratch cooking that’s being done in many of the nation’s schools and well, you’ve got some great recipes for healthy well fed students that get kids ready to learn.

So here’s my challenge to you. Would you try a dynamic and delicious made from scratch school food recipe at your next outdoor cookout?

Believe me when the side dish is Tantalizing and Tasty Ranchero Beans from a district like Brantley County Schools in Georgia, you can’t go wrong.

Ranchero Beans

Here’s what I did and I’ll show you how. I took the original bulk recipe from School Nutrition Director Laura Lynn’s Brantley County School District and honed it down for an at home gathering with family. I’m sharing the original with you along with my version.

School style:

Number of Portions: 43
Size of Portions: ½ cup

Equipment:

CAT509 – CVap Thermalizer
HA4522 – CVap Holding Cabinet

Ingredients:

1 cup, 8 fl oz water
2 tsp low sodium ham base
1 #10 can/18.5 ct/.5 cup beans, canned, drained, rinsed
1 can #10 tomatoes, diced, canned
1 cup frozen diced onions
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp salt, table
1 tsp pepper, black
¼ cup mild banana pepper rings

Preparation:

Pre-heat your CVap Thermalizer by pressing Channel 6.

Place can of tomatoes, drained beans and onions in a 2” deep hotel pan. Add 1 cup of warm water mixed with the ham base. Add Italian seasoning, cumin, salt and black pepper. Mix well and place pepper rings on top. Once it’s pre-heated, place in the CAT509 and cook for 30 minutes. Then place in HA4522 Holding Cabinet with a food temperature of 155 degrees and a food texture of +10 degrees until ready to serve. Serve students with #8 scoop or ½ spoodle.

Home Style Version

Ingredients:

½ cup of water
¼ tsp of low sodium ham base (I used Better Than Bouillon brand)
2 cans 15.5 oz unseasoned pinto beans drained, rinsed
2 cans 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
¼ cup frozen diced onions (I used Kroger brand)
¼ tsp Italian seasoning (I used McCormick brand)
¼ tsp of cumin
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 or 8 mild banana pepper rings

Preparation:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a half size aluminum hotel pan and then use a CVap CAC503 Cook and Hold set to 90+9 for 30 minutes on high yield so it will drop into an automatic hold of 150 following the heat cycle to warm.

If you don’t have one at home…

Combine the ingredients in a gallon or so pot, reserve the mild banana rings for topping. Heat on medium on top of the stove, covered until warm, then put the banana pepper rings on top for serving.Penelope forkJPG

I then served this to friends and family, including my two year old granddaughter Penelope (minus the mild banana pepper rings) and asked them all what they thought.

The adults loved it and Penelope asked for more. Then the big reveal… I told them it was school food!

This made Penelope ready for kindergarten immediately!

Check out this wonderful dish and try it at home. Take heart in knowing that schools all over America are serving great dishes like this to your children which have been cooked fresh in Winston Thermalizers and held at just cooked quality in Winston Holding Cabinets with the one and only CVap technology.

CVap® vs. Immersion Circulator – A Precision Cooking Contest

Not long ago I had a talented chef come to the Winston factory in Louisville to do some testing. He was preparing to open a new “traditional” style steakhouse in Chicago. Knowing how the competition was for that segment in Chicago he needed an ace up his sleeve. He had heard quite a bit about our CVap technology but wanted to see it for himself. So he came to town with a very specific goal: to test a CVap Cook and Hold Oven side-by-side against an immersion circulator. He also had some very specific food items he wanted to test, so he came bearing gifts in the form of beef, pork, and chicken. I knew I had two days of caveman-style protein consumption to look forward to!

Let the games begin. I already had some experience with side-by-side testing with the circulator so I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. This chef was very detail-oriented and wanted to capture all the results with precise notes and pictures. So that’s how we approached the project, and I was very surprised by what we found. I already knew about the procedural efficiency and cost savings made possible by choosing CVap over the circulator, but I was not prepared to discover just how much better it performed with regard to texture, flavor, and consistency. Time after time we were both surprised after tasting the finished food items.

skirt steaksWe tried three different methods for each item. We bagged and vacuum-sealed short ribs, mock tenders, beef filet, ribeye steaks, NY Strip steaks, skirt steaks, and half chickens. We also had one of each item for our bag-less CVap sous vide-style process. We then cooked and finished each product. We did one each bagged in the circulator, one each bagged in the CVap, and one each bag-less in the CVap. The results for each product weighed fairly heavily in favor of the bag-less CVap sous vide process in terms of flavor, texture, consistency, and moisture retention. Each protein was just more tender and easier to handle than the more complex traditional sous vide process.

Then there’s also the question of capacity. We realized that he would need at least four circulators to do what we were doing in one half-sized CVap CAC509 Cook and Hold Oven, which negated the cost difference of the two options. So much so that the CVap worked out to be the less expensive option. Not to mention the continuous cost savings each year of not having to use the plastic products and the labor savings during prep time without the need for bagging the food items.

But don’t take my word for it – I think the photos speak for themselves.

chickenTake a look at some of our other blog posts that feature foods cooked using the sous vide method in CVap – the possibilities really are endless!

http://blog.cvap.com/cvap-sous-vide-shrimp-butter-herb-sauce/

http://blog.cvap.com/chef-michele-richard-winston-cvap-sous-vide-short-ribs/

http://blog.cvap.com/cooking-process-series-sous-vide-cvap/

Corey’s CVap® Carnitas

I love food! And I mean all types of food. My absolute favorite style of cuisine is Hispanic – more specifically, Mexican, with its wealth of tradition and depth of flavors. What’s not to like?! I have a group of friends I meet every Sunday at our local South of the Border establishment for lunch and a margarita or three. (If I’m being honest, the food is decent, but the margaritas are the real draw!) I decided to mix it up one Sunday and order one of my favorite traditional Mexican dishes: carnitas. They were less than spectacular, and I asked my friend Sergio why he thought they weren’t very good. He replied that too many people really only want fajitas on the hot plate, and this restaurant’s preparation just wasn’t traditional. To be fair, one look around the room proved that he was right. It looked like a sauna with the steam rising from every table. I was a victim of demand.

I wasn’t about to settle for this disappointment, however. Carnitas is a staple of Mexican cuisine and I mean, c’mon, it’s PORK! I decided to take matters into my own hands. There are many ways to prepare carnitas, but traditionally it is shoulder meat (or leftover parts of a butchered hog) slow braised for several hours in pork lard confit style. Once the pork has been broken down enough, it is taken out and either pulled apart or cut into cubes. It then goes back into the lard with the heat turned up, and it is fried to add texture. Now, there are many twists and variations of this dish, and the part of the country you are from usually defines what ingredients and flavors your carnitas might have. For this recipe, I’m combining the old with the new and adding a splash of CVap.


Ingredientsingredients

2 Lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
2 small bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
½ orange
½ lime
½ medium onion
½ Mexican beer, preferably dark
Fresh Cilantro
2 Lbs. Lard or Cooking Oil

Instructionsingredients in bag

In a large vacuum or re-sealable bag, combine all ingredients.

Place bag in CVap Cook and Hold oven at the settings below. Drink the other ½ of your Mexican beer!

CVap Cook and Hold Settings:

High Yield Mode: OFF
Doneness: 178
Browning: 0
Time: 8 hours
Once the timer goes off, pull the bag out of the CVap and separate the pork cubes from the other ingredients.

ready for fryer

 

 

 

 

 
Place lard or oil in a fryer or large pot on the stove and set to 350 degrees or medium-high heat. Drop the cubes into the oil and let fry until golden brown, about 1 minute.

fryingfried pork pieces

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now comes the easy part: eat the carnitas! I usually enjoy them over a bed of rice and beans with a little salsa on top. I also like them in a corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime. Then again, sometimes I just eat them right out of the pot because it’s fried pork and I’m impatient. There is no right or wrong here, just enjoy!

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Chocolate Cake Smackdown: CVap® vs. Conventional Oven

From my childhood, I remember making the most decadent, delicious, and RICH flourless chocolate cake recipe.  I can still picture in my mind helping my grandmother put ganache on the top of the cake and sneaking a little off the top with my finger when she wasn’t looking.  We always called that kind of sampling “quality control tasting.”

Now that I am an adult, I still find this type of confection universally appealing – I mean, who doesn’t like a rich chocolate cake? For me, a great go-to dessert for guests is a flourless cake – similar to my grandmother’s – topped with a side of homemade whipped cream and fresh raspberries. And there’s the added bonus of it being a super quick and easy recipe, plus it is gluten free.

Instead of just baking the cake in a traditional oven like grandma used to, I wanted to see what kind of results I would get baking it in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven.  So I devised a challenge for myself in order to compare the two.

ingredientsI made a double batch of flourless chocolate cake and placed equal amounts of the batter in individual, fluted removable-bottom tart pans. I set the CVap at 160 +10 browning and the conventional oven at 350 degrees.

side-by-side2The results were very interesting!  The cake in the CVap baked in 16 minutes while the cake in the conventional oven took almost 20 minutes. More importantly, when I had three adults conduct a blind taste test, they all preferred the cake baked in CVap!  Some of the comments about CVap Flourless cake were that it “had a chocolatier taste,” “the texture was lighter and smoother,” and “the top exterior top was more eye appealing.”

side-by-sidefeature1I found that the conventional cake rose and then dropped once out of the oven, and this is a normal occurrence with flourless chocolate cakes.  What I liked with the CVap version was that the top had a better texture and the cake did not drop, giving it better eye appeal. It certainly makes a good case for baking in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven.

cake with ganache wholeAnd when you add the ganache… calling it icing on the cake doesn’t do it justice!

Email me at adkirby@winstonind.com if you’d like the recipe.

CVap® Pork Butt: How Sweet It Is!

Boston butt or pork butt is the American name for a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone. Boston butt is the most common cut used for pulled pork.  Source: Wikipedia.org

Okay… I will admit I never used to be much of a pork fan, but before you gasp in horror, let me explain! When I was growing up, we were served pork chops that were thrown on a dry frying pan for probably twenty-five minutes per side, and I honestly think shoe leather would have been easier to eat. It’s one food memory I simply cannot forget.

That was then. Now I have Controlled Vapor Technology and CVap on my side, and I’ll never have to eat a dried-out, chewy piece of pork again.

So let’s get down to CVap business! I wanted to create a tender, moist, sweet piece of pork that I could shred for quesadillas.IMG_0357

In this case, I made a small roast to feed a few people. If you are feeding the masses, simply increase portion sizes and start with a larger roast. I used pre-packaged ingredients for convenience, but you can experiment with your own flavor combinations. I have two hungry boys at home (one of whom eats so fast I wonder if he can taste his food!) and they both loved this recipe.

Ingredients

  • Pork Butt Roast (approximately 3 – 3.5 lbs.)
  • 1 Old El Paso Sauce Packet (Roasted Garlic)
  • 1 Cup A&W Root Beer
  • 6 oz. Tomato Paste
  • ½ Cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Light Brown Sugar

Instructions

Place pork in steam table pan.IMG_0379

Mix all the ingredients together in a separate bowl and pour over pork.IMG_0375

Put into the CVap oven, push start, and walk away.

CVap CAC series Cook and Hold Oven settings:

Constant Cook:        ON
Doneness:                 175
Browning:                  4
Time:                           6:30

At this setting the oven will hold at 150° when the cook cycle is complete.IMG_0373

Following the cook cycle, I usually shred the pork and put it back into the oven for approximately 1.5 hours before serving.IMG_0371

It always turns out great! Sweet flavor all the way through and perfect texture.

IMG_0361Accompany the pork with some black beans and cilantro lime rice, and the family is well on the way to having full and happy bellies. If you’re not a fan of pork butt, this recipe will make you a believer!

imagesTry it and let us know what you think. Until next time, keep smiling!

Wright House Rock Star CVap® Staged Backyard Burgers

My son-in-law frequently goes on tour with famous musicians to cook for the band, roadies, and entourage. Last summer he was preparing for another tour, and though I can’t remember which band since he had been on several tours already, it could have been Justin Bieber since we had been teasing him about that for a while. Anyway, he was being told that several VIPs would be stopping by the kitchen and that he would need to quickly serve high-quality steaks in a display cooking format. Needless to say, this had the potential to present production issues.

When he told me about the dilemma, we happened to be hosting a backyard get-together for family and friends. I brought home a Winston CVap Cook & Hold unit and told Rich I had an idea for him. I’ll get to that shortly.

If you have ever been “that guy” who stands at a grill in the blazing hot sun cooking 25 hamburgers for your friends while they have all the fun, you certainly understand the problem I’m about to lay out for you.

First problem: your grill is too small to cook 25 hamburgers simultaneously. Second problem: grilling them all to the proper temperature is a challenge for even the most experienced grill meister. Third problem: timing, timing, timing.raw

Back to the backyard get-together: before everyone came over I set the Cook & Hold to 135 and 0. (135°F Food Temperature and 135°F Food Texture) After the unit pre-heated I put the burgers on sheet pans, threw them in, and hit Start.

stagedA few hours later when I started hearing “when are we going to eat,” I started up the grill and told everyone that lunch would be served in 15 minutes. Rich looked at me like I was nuts and asked how in the world I thought I was going to grill 25 half-pound burgers on a small grill in 15 minutes. So I walked him over to the Cook & Hold and showed him the CVap® Staged burgers. They were a beautiful 135°F and very juicy though they had no texture on them. Another priceless look on Rich’s face. I’m sure he was thinking, “Are you really going to serve those?”

I told everyone to start getting their plates ready and began grilling. Depending on the doneness that people were requesting, the burgers only took between two to three minutes each because all I had to do was raise the temperature from 135°F to the requested doneness and add that nice backyard burger browning.
grilled burger

After lunch Rich and I talked about how CVap® Staging would reduce his labor and significantly reduce the amount of time the guests would have to wait for their steaks. Needless to say, Rich impressed a few VIPs with CVap on that tour, and it is a regular crowd pleaser at the Wright House.

burger for blog post

To learn more about CVap® Staging and the possibilities it can bring to your kitchen and speed of service, download the FREE eBook:

My Romanian Grandmother’s Hungarian Roast Chicken… CVap-Style!

I am a third-generation European transplant in America with a rich family history of amazing Eastern European food.

My grandfather, Toby Kritzer, was from a small border town between Poland and Austria called Nowy Sancz. He had a large family of seven brothers, and they were all raised learning the art of Austrian pastries and breads. They came to America in the early 1900s and each operated a successful bakery in Cleveland, Ohio, while my grandfather drove the delivery truck for the entire operation. When the bakeries were sold off in the early 1950s, my grandfather helped start a small kosher chicken store front in the Hough area near downtown Cleveland. Needless to say, chicken was plentiful for my family!

Roast Chicken

In fact, my grandmother always had boiled chicken in her refrigerator. Always. And whenever I went to visit, the first thing she offered me – before I could even sit down – was a piece of that boiled chicken. Not the most appealing treat to offer a seven-year-old boy.

But when it came to her Hungarian roast chicken – now that was a different story altogether! Although my grandmother was from Bucharest, Romania, she made fantastic Hungarian food, and that roast chicken was the best I ever had growing up. I learned to make it myself, but it was just never as good as hers. The aroma and the flavor are still among my fondest childhood kitchen memories.

When I came to work with the great people at Winston, however, I had a chance to stretch my training experience a bit and convert my grandmother’s Hungarian roast chicken recipe for the CVap Cook and Hold Oven. Between you and me, after just two attempts, I feel like I came up with a moister match than my grandmother’s rotisserie style of browning. Today I am sharing it with you and I do hope you try it yourself. Please let me know what you think!

My Romanian Grandmother’s Hungarian Roast Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 ½-pound roasting chicken brined overnight

Instructions

  1. Turn on CVap Cook and Hold Oven and set doneness at 200 and browning on 9.
  2. Mix together the paprika, garlic salt and pepper and spread evenly over the entire surface of the chicken. You can mix in a good olive oil for a moist rub.
  3. Place the chicken on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. The rack is essential so the entire chicken gets some texture.
  4. Roast the chicken with the Constant Cook button on for 2 ½ hours or until the internal temperature has reached 165 and the juices run clear.
  5. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

If you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to this delicious chicken, I recommend something my grandmother frequently served: Jewish kasha varnishkes. Click here for a recipe you can try.

 

Lobster and Fresh Corn Chowder with CVap Staged Scallops

brothWhat better way to celebrate National Seafood Month and the transition from Summer to Fall than to create a delicate yet hearty Lobster and Fresh Corn Chowder with CVap Staged Scallops?! The layers of flavor in this dish are subtle yet so satisfying, you’ll want to make it again and again.

We began by butter poaching lobster tails with thyme and lemon in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven at 200 + 0 for 12 minutes. The meat was removed from the shells and placed back in the CVap to hold until plating.

The shells were used first to make stock. To that we added the corn milk and cobs remaining from stripping the kernals (which were reserved) from fresh ears of corn, along with onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, and thyme. This was placed in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven at 180 + 0 and simmered all day.

brunoise cooking

A brunoise of new potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots was sautéed in butter with the reserved fresh corn kernals, bay leaves, salt and pepper. This mixture was then placed in a CVap holding cabinet. We also cooked some gorgeous sea scallops in a CVap at 126 + 0 and held them until we were ready to bring everything together. The scallops were pan seared to finish them.

searing scallops

First onto the plate was the sautéed vegetable mixture,

brunoise in plate

topped by the poached lobster tail meat and two pan-seared scallops,

lobster and scallop stack

finished with a generous ladle of the broth that cooked all day.

ladle shot

Ending with a sublime plate.

finished plate

 

Can’t wait to make – and eat – this one again!

 

To learn more about CVap Staging and the possibilities it can bring to your kitchen and speed of service, download the FREE eBook: CVap Staging Download Button