In the second week of cooking class, I learned the secret ingredient that makes everything taste great—butter. Yes, butter. And lots of it. Despite feeling my cholesterol level rise and having my cooking instincts challenged, I followed the Chef’s instructions to a tee. After all, you have to live and cook dangerously once in a while.
Now that we were all experts at dicing and mincing anything that grew from the ground, Chef had us making stocks. Our team was assigned to fish, while other groups did chicken and beef. We learned how to extract flavors from the ingredients to the fullest, and that stocks that cooked longer used larger diced ingredients. All this prep was for next week’s dishes. Tonight the menu was mushroom soup, chicken breasts, and mussels steamed in white wine sauce.
The Chef assigned us to the mussels, but if he would have asked for volunteers, I would have raised my hand and ran to the front of the class knocking everyone else out of the way. The dish seemed very simple and healthy. Saute some garlic, fennel and shallots. Season with spices. Add the lemon juice and white wine. Boil and steam the mussels. And that’s when Chef looked at me and said, “It’s not in the recipe, but add a few cubes of butter.”
When we sat down for dinner, I consciously took smaller portions of everything knowing that butter played such a prominent but secret role in the menu. But when I actually closed my eyes to savor the food, all I could think about was that it tasted really really good.