Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Supper

Special times deserve special meals. Lately I've been on a cooking kick--and it seemed appropriate to do something special for my in-laws to celebrate both the birth of our Saviour (Christmas) and the birth of our Henry. So I pulled open Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook and went to town. Christmas Day Menu was as follows:
  • Carré d'Adneau au Moutarde (Rack of Lamb with Mustard)
  • Gratin Daughinois (Gratin Potatoes)
  • Sautéed Vegitable Medley
  • Travaglini Gattinara 2003

I got the lamb racks from Grace Meats here in Toronto. It's a fantastic, family-owned butcher in Little Italy.

Let's get to the recipes...

Carré d'Adneau au Moutarde

from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
(thanks Meg and Seb)

2 Racks of lamb, French cut
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Cup Red wine
2 Cups strong, dark lamb stock
1 Garlic clove, slightly crushed
1 bouquet garni
1 pinch of fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch of fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh Bread crumbs

large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan
wooden spoon
fine strainer
small pot
roasting pan
serving platter

Serves 4-6

Season the racks with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in the sauté pan and, when the oil is hot, add 1 Tbsp. of the butter. Once the butter has foamed and subsided, put the racks in, fat side down, and sear, turning with the tongs, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Discard the fat from the sauté pan and, over high heat, stir in the wine, scraping the bottom with the wooden spoon. Reduce by half, then add the lamb stock, garlic, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook down until thick enough to coat the spoon. Strain into the small pot and set aside.

Preheat the oven 375 Degrees F (190 C). Sprinkle half the thyme and rosemary leaves over the lamb. Then spoon the mustard over the fat side of the lamb rack and cover the area with bread crumbs. Press the bread crumbs into the mustard, forming a thick layer on the outside. Place the lamb in the roasting pan and cook in the oven for 17 minutes (for medium rare). Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into double chops and arranging on the serving platter. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the remaining thyme and rosemary. Whisk in the remaining 1 Tbsp. of butter and serve alongside the lamb. (source)

Tay's Notes
An awesome, awesome recipe. Fun to make and rewarding. But Anthony leaves out a few details you might want know about...

First off, I don't think his recipe makes enough sauce. You can fix that by doubling the amount of wine, stock, butter you use to make that sauce.

Speaking of the sauce... There is an opportunity for good kitchen theatrics here. After you've seared the lamb and poured off the fat, put the pan back on the stove on med-high to high (depending on your stove) until it just starts to smoke. Pour in the wine at that instant and then burn off the alcohol as it boils in those first few seconds. If you are cooking on gas, this flambe effect happens when the alcohol vapor gets near the cooking flame. If you are using an electric stove (as I was), simply light a match and hold it near the vapor cloud. Just be sure to invite your in-laws are others over to watch as you make a nice flame effect!

Anthony B. believes, I mean BELIEVES, in making your own stock. Sorry, man, didn't have time for that! So I substituted beef stock for lamb stock. Your butcher may have lamb stock--be sure to check.

Here is a problem I've noted with recipes from this book--cooking times seem off. Perhaps he's just cooking at a higher temp or my oven is colder than it should be, but I found these time estimates to be too brief. Instead of 5 minutes to brown the lamb, more like 8-10. Instead of 17 minutes to roast it, try 23-25 for medium rare. Actually, don't use time at all for that--use a meat thermometer!

Anyway, great recipe, and not too difficult to make, either. Just follow the steps.

This next recipe is AMAZING. Unbelievably delicious...

Gratin Dauphinois

from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
(thanks Meg and Seb)

8 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 Cups heavy cream
5 Garlic clove
1 Sprig of thyme
1 Sprig of rosemary
1 Sprig of flat parsley
salt and white pepper
freshly ground nutmeg (go easy)
1 Tbsp. butter
4 Oz. Grated Gruyère cheese

large pot
large ovenproof gratin dish

Serves: 4-5

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Place the potatoes in the large pot and add the cream, 4 of the garlic cloves, and the herbs. Season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After 10 minutes of simmering, remove from the heat and discard the garlic and herbs.

Use the remaining garlic clove to rub around the inside of the gratin dish. Butter the inside of the gratin dish as well so that it is evenly coated. Transfer the potatoes and cream to the gratin dish and sprinkle the top with the Gruyère cheese. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the mixture is brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. (source)

Tay's Notes

The potatoes should be "mediumish" in size.

I tied up the herbs in cheese cloth to make it easier to retrieve them from the cream before the transfer to the making dish.

I would probably use more than 2 Cups of cream next time. I know, I know... but were you preparing this for Jenny Craig convention or what? It's Christmas, relax! So I would suggest 2 1/2 to 3 Cups of cream.

For nutmeg--I'd use about a pinch or two.

He says 40 minutes, but I went longer (about 50 to 55) in order to get a pleasing brown top.

The Gruyère cheese and nutmeg really make this dish. Just awesome! If in doubt that it will make enough for your dinner group, don't hesitate to double the recipe. Otherwise you won't have leftovers, and you want leftovers.

As Anthony B. points out, these two dishes above go great together. But another good addition to the plate is sautéed veggies.

Sautéed Vegetables Provencals

from Tay's Mind

4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths, then quartered longwise
6 Celery stalks, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
2 Bell Peppers, seeded, Juliane into 1 1/2 inch lengths
2 Cups Mushrooms (most kinds and cuts will do just fine)
2 Tbs. Olive Oil (a little more may be necessary later)
1 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Provençal Spice

Sauté Pan
Large Bowl

Serves 6

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan until hot (sprinkle a few drops of water onto the oil and see if it sparkles and spits if you aren't sure if it's ready). When the oil is ready, add a pat of butter and wait until the foam subsides. Then add the veggies in batches, setting aside as each finishes in a large bowl (use a slotted spoon or tongs to make sure you don't get too much oil in the bowl). You can add a little oil to the pan if it gets too dry. Once the veggies are done, toss them with some provincial spice and salt and pepper.

Travaglini Gattinara pairs well with these dishes--a mellow, smooth Italian red that won't overpower the subtle lamb tastes.

Betsy was very pleased with this supper. Our son had no comment--he prefers a simple diet of milk, sleep, and attention.


No comments: