Månedens matblogger: North Wild Kitchen // Kulinarisk Akademi
It’s one thing to taste an array of flavors and textures from all the different food offerings at Mathallen, and quite another to learn how to implement the fresh, quality ingredients you will find here into your cooking. That’s the reason I really wanted to spend an afternoon with the Kulinarisk Akademi “culinary academy”, located on the second level in Mathallen.
Kulinarisk Akademi is a resource center, or kompetansesenter in Norwegian, offering food courses with the ambition to inspire and transfer their culinary skills to the public and others in the culinary industry. I purposely picked their biff og bayer course, not only because of the pairing of beef and beer, but because this particular course has an emphasis on understanding Norwegian cuts of beef. Even if you do not have any plans to cut your own meats, I highly recommend expanding your knowledge about the butchering process and which cuts work best for which cooking method. This knowledge will enable you to get the most out of the meats you use.
Walking through the glass doors on the second level brings you into the academy where you’ll be welcomed to the course at hand. The biff og bayer course began with a Sagene pilsner to enjoy while we were given a brief introduction on the process of brewing beer and which beers would be paired with today’s dishes. Following this, I was presented with the Norwegian cuts of beef, focusing on what each part is best used for as well as how best to cook them. Some general rules of beef are that the cuts from the back of the animal are more tender than the front. This is because the majority of the weight of the animal is carried by its front legs, which will increase the amount of tissue. Those cuts will generally need a longer cooking time to tenderize the meat, but fear not, the taste and flavor is absolutely delicious when you understand how to prepare the meat correctly.
Soon after our lesson, the students were led to the kitchen to pick a station and tie on our aprons. What I like about Kulinarisk Akademi is that it’s hands on. We were given an introduction to each dish before making it ourselves. The day’s menu was a well-rounded selection of different cuts of meat to be prepared into four distinct dishes. It started off with Tenderloin (indrefillet) with Gremolata and Pickled Onions. The second was Top Sirloin (mørbrad) with Creamy Peppercorn Sauce and Grilled Romaine. The third was Chuck Steak (høyrygg) served with Creamed Celeriac and a Red Wine Sauce. The third and final was Ribeye (entrecôte) with Fries, Green Beans, and Béarnaise Sauce.
All the meats had to be cooked by the students, along with most of the sauces. Some sauces and sides had been prepared beforehand by the chefs for the sake of time. Many of the students started off slightly hesitant at their own abilities but ended up with a bigger burst of confidence by the final dish. The final dish, entrecote with béarnaise, was a good way to end as anyone who has ever made béarnaise can attest to its complexity and necessary advanced technique in making. Luckily, the chefs were on hand to help fix any sauces that were separating, and the final result was a splendid meal shared with newly-made friends.
The beer pairings were an utmost delight, with a good range of flavors that complimented each dish. Your filled glass was always waiting for you as soon as you finished plating and were ready to dive into your creation. The final beer, from a local brewery located in Asker, was a real treat and rounded off the course nicely as an homage to the quality products available here in Norway.
The whole afternoon was fast-paced and entertaining. I left with a greater understanding of the different cuts of beef and a yearning to explore and experiment with other cuts. I also gained an appreciation as well as an anticipation to be bolder with my beer pairings. Of course, I also left with a full and happy belly and a recipe book from our day.
Having the opportunity to extend your food experience from being served to be the one serving is a fantastic experience and one that Kulinarisk Akademi provides. From novice to expert, the ability to meet with creative chefs and talent will inspire you to create something from your own hands and elevate your meal into something special for those enjoying your work.
Tips for sourcing meat:
- I recommend sourcing the meat yourself if possible or buying it directly from a butcher. All meats need to have aged well in order to tenderize and take on the appropriate flavor profile. Packaged meats found in grocery stores are not aged nearly in the same way or process.
Tips for cooking beef provided by Kulinarisk Akademi:
- If using meat that has been packaged, make sure to take the meat out of the package at least one hour before cooking.
- Use a large frying pan
- Get the pan good and warm and put a little sunflower oil in to brown the meat
- After the meat has gotten a good crust on one side, turn it over then add butter and other herbs for flavor
- Spoon the melted butter and meat drippings over the meat as it finishes cooking for more flavor
- Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes before serving