Update: Great class from Thomas, we hear. Sad to have missed it, but at least we have photos of what went down courtesy Beth!
On the eve of Thomas’ first in a series of Genuine Cooking Classes at Bon Vivant’s beautiful new store in Camana Bay, I get this photo in my inbox from Beth — a gorgeous, housemade and ready-to-eat prosciutto that our executive chef in Grand Cayman made. I had noticed two hams dangling in a corner of his walk-in on our last trip down for Slow Food Day. Apparently it eats like a fresher, moister prosciutto. Not quite as dry or developed in flavor, but quite good for a first try in the Cayman Islands. Salty at first but the pork flavor definitely comes through. It’s making its way to the table now on Thomas’ gnocchi (which are themselves said to contain magical powers,) and he’s thinking about pairing them with Donna’s eggs, possibly poached with the sliced ham and a ham double cream.
“I started with about 2, 5-pound legs. They roughly weigh about 4 pounds each now,” Thomas explained over email after service last night. “This one happens to be from Paul Bodden. Such an excellent product, you cannot go wrong. When i started it, I just thought about 6 months, but 8 months passed, and I said, ‘hey why not let it stay for a year.’ I began it exactly at taste of Cayman.”
This was his first time making a prosciutto, and knowing Thomas’ love of a good experiment, he just went for it having “only” seen, eaten, and read about it. If ever there was an experiment, Thomas is conducting one in more calculated a way than he will admit to. Methodically, but never to without a free spirit.
“I do not have a humidity controlled area, nor is it possible in this Cayman climate,” he continued. “I cured it for 2.5 weeks in kosher salt, then rinsed it off. Wrapped the leg in cheese cloth and hung it at the door of the walk-in cooler. That area was probably the right spot considering that it was a bit colder than preferred, but I knew it would be safe from harmful bacteria and pests. I checked it at the 8 month mark and noticed the mold growing on it. It looked great! It was the right mold that develops the flavor and protects it.”
Thomas’ inaugural interactive cooking class at Bon Vivant tonight is sold out with a waitlist, but have no fear; he will be hosting these from 6:30 to 8:30pm every third Thursday of the month. They include dinner and wine from Blackbeard’s. To reserve a spot, contact Bon Vivant by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 345.623.COOK (2665.) The first class starts where it always should begin for a genuine experience for the home cook — Michael’s cookbook, MICHAEL’S GENUINE FOOD: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat. Students will learn to make homemade ricotta cheese from scratch and explore its savory and sweet applications.
From the looks of the menu, no one is going home hungry:
– homemade ricotta
– braised chicken with green olives & apricots
– braised chicken and ricotta crespelle with jus
– swiss chard panade*
– tomato-bread soup with ricotta*
– ricotta and apricot canoli*
“The ones with the asterisks might be possible if I got time,” he continued. “The panade and the soup are very do-able. They want me to make this a bit interactive and considering that the chicken will take an hour to cook, I could do the other items as fillers between the time that the chicken needs to cook and the ricotta needs to cook and cool. The canoli was also a request from a student who signed up for the class. They had ours at the restaurant and were curious.”
Now… will tonight’s students get a taste of your meat, Thomas? For their sake I hope they do!