By Carly DeFilippo

Jonathan Waxman, chef and owner of New York City’s Barbuto, has garnered many superlatives during his culinary career: “One of the country’s greatest chefs“, king of roast chicken and even “the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Top Chef Masters“. Monday night, Waxman shared one of his many talents – and favorite aspects of cooking – with ICE recreational students: butchery.

When we arrived at class, Waxman announced that we would be preparing proteins ranging from lamb to pheasant – but first, we went back to basics. “Jacques Pepin says the most important thing to learn is how to cook an omelet. I say it’s how to cut an onion”. Waxman explained that knives are shaped like a boat, which means we should chop using a gentle rocking motion. Our non-chopping hand should be shaped “like a crab”, walking delicately backwards as the knife approaches.

After reviewing the essential slippery onion, Waxman taught us how to debone striped bass (the bones in the fins are poisonous), a leg of lamb (cut away from the body), pheasant (avoid piercing the “oyster”) and that all-time classic, the chicken. Regardless of the protein, Chef Waxman insisted that it’s important to use your cutting hand to feel for the bones and joints (closing your eyes may help) before diving in with a knife. He also assured us, again and again, “these are unnatural movements”, and that even he has to remind himself to practice proper knife technique.

Yet one of the most memorable skills shared by Waxman didn’t even require a knife. He charged us with the task of sautéing pasta, a Ligurian technique that browns pasta before adding liquid, adding extra crunch and flavor to this essential Italian foodstuff.

Sauteed pasta with endives and jalapenos.

 

2 Comments

  1. Jeffrey McDowell

    I was one of the students in the class, and it was great fun. Chef Waxman is that really cool teacher you wished you had every period in high school. He has a great and irreverent sense of humor and can with one look remind you what you need to correct. I am impatient and check things too often – he would remind me – “did I tell you to do that”? Next time I cook chicken I will hear his voice telling me to leave it alone.

    The pasta is no joke, tonight I sauteed my pasta. I had some left over chicken, mushroom and marsala sauce I had made Sunday night, added some chicken stock with dried porcini. The black truffle butter gilded the lilly. It was different from our pasta from last night, but really good.

    Thanks ICE for a really good class

  2. Thanks Jeff! Was a pleasure to meet you, and I’m glad you enjoyed the class. Excited to test out that pasta technique myself! – Carly

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