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Episode 66: Students Teach Superintendent Art of Cast Iron Skillet Cooking

Have you ever wondered what is the best way to cook a perfect steak? Some students in the ProStart Culinary Program say it’s by using a cast iron skillet. In this sizzling episode of the Supercast, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey heads to Mountain Ridge High School with his brand-new cast iron skillet in hand, ready for a cooking class like no other. The Superintendent was inspired by one student’s idea of having a “Steaksgiving” for Thanksgiving.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Have you ever wondered what's the very best way to cookie perfect steak? Some students in the ProStart Culinary Program say it's by using a cast iron skillet on this sizzling episode of the super cast. I head to Mountain Ridge High School with my brand new cast iron skillet in hand, ready for a cooking class like no other. I was inspired to learn the art of cast iron skillet, cooking by one student who appeared on a previous Supercast and said he was having "Steaks-giving" instead of Thanksgiving. Let's start in Ms. Anderson's classroom kitchen, where we prepare our skillet. Tell me about seasoning a skillet. Obviously yours is over 50 years old, so it's well seasoned. Tell us about that process.

Student:
For that process, what we do is we heat up the skillet with just some oil and to kind of rub oil all around the inside to make sure that the oil absorbs within the skillet a little bit and allows it to be more non-stick and it just allows food to cook better on it.

Superintendent:
So I asked Mike Anderson, our Associate Superintendent, who is here with us. Say hi to everybody.

Mike:
Hi everybody.

Superintendent:
He seasoned mine, it was pre-seasoned. And then he seasoned it at home because it needs another layer. So tell me why yours is so much blacker and shinier than any others I've seen.

Ms. Anderson:
My husband's cast iron skillet, I believe he got it from his grandparents, and it has just been used throughout the years. And it's just insanely smooth for cast iron, but you really have to use it in order for it to get that way.

Superintendent:
And we have a couple of students here with us as well. Tell us your names.

Student:
I'm Aaron Butterfield and I will be cooking the steaks for you today.

Superintendent:
What do we have set up here?

Student:
So it's basically getting all your recipe and all the equipment you'll need and the food you'll need. We've got our cast iron skillets, and then we'll preheat those in a minute. Then we have butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and the oil we will be cooking with. We have a thermometer to watch the temperature of our meat, so we don't over or under cook it. And then, just some other utensils that we will be using.

Superintendent:
Now, this really is a nice way to approach just about anything. You have everything right in front of you that you need so that you're not in the middle of trying to cook something on a particular timeline and then find yourself scrambling for what you're missing.

Student:
Yes, exactly.

Superintendent:
Tell me a little bit about the cut of steaks that we have here. They look absolutely gorgeous. I want to spray shellac on that and just put it on my desk because it looks so delicious.

Student:
All right. So we have some ribeye steaks. We opted for the boneless version and purchased them last night. We salted them and then put them in the fridge overnight, uncovered. It helps the moisture to kind of evaporate. You don't want any moisture when you sear them. And so if you leave them uncovered, it helps with that really nice crust. And then we just salted them, both sides and have just left them uncovered, refrigerated. We've just pulled them out so that they can get to room temp. So in about 10 minutes, we'll be ready to cook.

Superintendent:
Those are important tips. I love the attention to detail. So, the seasoning looks pretty sparse. There's not a lot required beyond that. Okay.

Student:
Yeah. Beef, I mean really good quality beef is going to have a great flavor. So you don't really want to mask that. We have decided to do a little bit of butter and Rosemary and garlic and salt and pepper. But honestly, that's really not necessary with a good steak. You could just do salt and pepper and it should taste absolutely amazing.

Superintendent:
Talk us through as we take the next steps. Are we doing a side dish as well?

Student:
Yeah, we're gonna do some caramelized honey Brussel sprouts for you today. I used to not be a big fan of Brussels sprouts, but I learned that because I just never had them cooked correctly. Once you cook them correctly, they're absolutely delicious. So we're going to do a caramelized honey pepper flake and vinegar glaze on some Brussels sprouts. We're going to roast them in the oven, I believe for about 20 minutes to 425 degrees. It's a really hot oven and they will be absolutely soft, but tangy, salty but hot. They're kind of everything.

Superintendent:
I'm excited to try it. The word you added in the mix before and after Brussel sprouts, I think are going to make me like them for the first time.

Student:
I honestly hope so.

Superintendent:
I am expecting good things. I think it's going to be awesome. So tell me some of the health and safety precautions that you teach students in the kitchen.

Ms. Anderson:
So here at Mountain Ridge High School, we have different levels of foods classes, and each year we usually add a little bit to their knowledge. Foods I actually offers the food handlers certificate. Students learn everything safety and sanitation wise that they need to know to be able to work in the restaurant workplace. From there we just add on a little bit of knowledge with Foods II, applying it more. Honestly, just practice makes perfect. And then in ProStart we actually run a restaurant at our school. We learn the applicable skills in our commercial kitchen and lab space.

Superintendent:
Walk us through.

Student:
So first, we're going to cut up this garlic real quick, just so it's ready. You're just smashing it, really putting your weight on it and leaning into it with the side of the knife you just crush it, and then you'll cut off the end of it because you don't really want that part. Then you just peel the garlic right off. That's the good stuff on the inside.

Superintendent:
Okay. And is this a career from what you aspire and wanting at this moment in time?

Student:
I'm not really sure what I want to go into quite yet, but it's definitely an option. Come over and we're going to start preheating the cast iron.

Superintendent:
When do you put the oil in?

Student:
Once the pan is hot.

Superintendent:
What do you watch for, how do you know?

Student:
As soon as the oil hits the pan, you want to start watching to see it smoking and then you're ready. It's hot enough.

Superintendent:
So you will look at the pan and you turn it up on the highest heat or do you pretty high, just enough to get the whole thing hot. Okay. Aaron, is there a preferred oil you use for a steak like this?

Student:
Different oils have different smoking points. So you want to use a canola oil or avocado oil, both with about the same smoking point. You know, it's up to temperature. I thought I detected notes of canola.

Student:
Yeah. Now the reason we're here, of course, is because of our Steaks-giving episode Thanksgiving episode, which I now remember as the Steaks-giving episode because of the term you introduced me to, how was your Steaks-giving?

Student:
Our family Steaks-giving was amazing. We had a really good time. And even though it was a smaller family gathering than normal, we had a really good time and the food was amazing.

Superintendent:
And remind me, what portion of the meal were you responsible for?

Student:
So I cook the steaks and I did roasted garlic roasted potatoes. I was in charge of the skewer member that did cook the steaks for everybody.

Superintendent:
Yes. Well, I hope to be able to, after I watch the master at work. That's going to start smoking now. It starts to smoke. He dropped the oil in. Okay. I just got goosebumps hearing a steak.

Student:
This is one of I think the easiest ways to make a steak. The one issue with it is that middle can be really rare still in. So we're trying to get it to medium rare.

Superintendent:
Okay. Now you're holding it on the side, searing the sides as well.

Student:
Yes.

Superintendent:
That is something that I have not done. Does that sear from the side as well?

Student:
Yeah. It just gives you an idea of how thick you are as well.

Superintendent:
Yeah, probably not immediate.

Student:
Yeah. If you were doing sirloin steak, it's probably already cooked all the way through.

Superintendent:
Stay with us. When we come back, it's time to be cooking a steak in our cast iron skillet, create a savory side dish down there.

Break:
Hello, I'm Stacee Worthen, Secondary Counseling Specialist for Jordan School District. Do you know all the ways or the school district counselors can help you and your students? School counselors play such an important role in our school. They provide parents with resources to help guide their children in academics. They provide support with the mental and social well-being of students in our schools. And if you were in the process of preparing a student for college or just beginning, the conversation of higher education now is the perfect time to reach out to your child's counselor. We can assist with college applications and college readiness. I encourage parents and guardians to schedule an appointment and get to know your student's counselor together. Counselors and parents can help develop plans and strategies for students to succeed long after they leave during school district. rReach out. We're always here to help. You can find us and learn more at counseling.jordandistrict.org.

Student:
We're going to go for 130 degrees internal temperature. Okay, 70 degrees. We've got a little ways to go. Ms. Anderson, take over. That one is a little bit thinner, so it might be done.

Superintendent:
So once we turn it, we turn it back down to a low heat, until we can get that internal temperature up to what did you say, 130 degrees?

Student:
Yes. It depends on what you're going for. If you're going for medium or well done.

Superintendent:
Okay. Well, while he continues to get the internal temperature up, tell us the range for rare, medium and well done.

Student:
Rare is about 120 to 125 degrees. A medium rare is more like 130 to 135 degrees, and you probably shouldn't cook your steak anything above that.

Okay. Now you sear both sides and then you sear the edges and now you turn the heat down just to bring that internal temperature up. Now we're going to add some butter to baste with the garlic rosemary, and a little extra salt finishing. And that'll just give it flavor and time to cook.

Superintendent:
What are some common mistakes, if you will, that people make when they're cooking this?

Student:
Probably the biggest mistake is just over cooking it. Occasionally under cooking it, right? It's really hard to get that perfect medium rare.

Superintendent:
The steaks. No dude. Before knowing the roasted garlic in butter and those are ingredients to a magic potion. Okay. Lexi's here from the yearbook. Am I right about that smell or what?

Lexi:
Oh, you're right about that.

Superintendent:
We're coming back to the Brussels sprout conversation here. Are you zesting right now?

Student:
Yeah. So I'm zesting a lemon and we've diagonally sliced some scallions or green onions. And this is going to be a little topping that we use on the Brussel sprouts. Once the steaks are resting, I'm going to start making my caramelized honey glaze. And then we'll just kind of toss that all together and we'll have a wonderful Brussel sprouts side dish.

Ms. Anderson
Aaron has made his famous mashed potatoes for you guys today.

Superintendent:
Oh, well, awesome.

Student:
There's two keys to making mashed potatoes. The first is using Yukon gold potatoes and the second is using a ricer in order to basically mash your potatoes. A ricer is a contraption where you basically squished potato through small holes and it leads to really smooth texture. But right now the Brussel sprouts are getting really nice and brown. They're still not quite ready. They're a little too greenstone. So we're going to leave them in for about five more minutes just to get them really nice and tender. That's always the tough part for me is knowing just by what they look like if they are ready or not.

Superintendent:
Now we came back from the Brussel sprouts and caught Aaron tasting the mashed potatoes. Oh, he's going to let me do the same. They look awesome. They're warming right now. They're still a little bit cold, but they're warming up. I'm going to give it a try. That is incredible. Those tastes so good.

Student:
How was your Thanksgiving?

Superintendent:
My Thanksgiving was great and I actually, emboldened by my conversation with you and the rest of your class, I actually did make mashed potatoes. But I'm going to tell you, they were nothing close to this. I was pretty proud of them. Those potatoes tastes so good and they look great. Wow. So these are Yukon gold mashed potatoes. What are the other ingredients you throw in here to make them a perfection?

Student:
Heavy whipping cream. And then we did some butter, a lot of salt. When you start the potatoes, you want to salt the water really well.

Superintendent:
So we're just going to do some mashed potatoes. Then the Brussel sprouts is out here, on fire.

Okay. Ms. Anderson, some people may be hesitant but interested. What would you say to those who are considering taking one of your foods classes?

Ms. Anderson:
I would say that foods is a really fun class to take. You learn both career skills as well as life skills. A lot of my students may not choose to be in the restaurant industry, but they do develop a lot of skills that they use in college and beyond. I've had some students tell me that my class really helped them be able to cook in their dorm room better. And so that's always kind of a rewarding thing to have some more skills so that you're not always necessarily eating out, but that you're able to make a nutritious meal at home. We have a lot of fun. We cook a lot of different foods. We try to have a huge variety so that students feel that they're able to have a lot of different skills across the board.

Superintendent:
They're trying to stake now. All right, here comes the crust. Oh, that is soft and delicious Aaron. This is a masterpiece. It turned out very good. Lexi, how do you like your meal?

Lexi:
Mashed potatoes are brilliant. I've never had Brussels sprouts before.

Superintendent:
These are amazing. This steak is so juicy and Brussel sprouts. I'm going to try them right now. Oh, you can taste the zest and the citrus. It's incredible.

Student:
And I saved the Yukon potatoes for last because I know it's like dessert. How are those Brussel sprouts?

Superintendent:
Wow. It was Brussels sprouts. First of all, they have kick, but it's an appropriate kick. I've never had them as good before.

Thanks again to Ms. Anderson, Aaron, to Lexi for being here from the yearbook to document and to Mike. Anderson for bringing his cast iron skillet and his skills to the kitchen as well. And I'm going to go back to the meal, but thank you so much for letting us join you as always.

Thanks for joining us on the Supercast. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you out.

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