Pommes Puree

There are lots of ways to make mashed potatoes. This is my favorite.

Pommes Puree from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 Idaho potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

  1. COOK THE POTATOES: Place the potatoes in the large pot and add enough cold water to completely cover them. Add the 1 tablespoon/14 g of salt and bring to a boil. Let the potatoes cook in the boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife.

  2. Drain the potatoes, discarding the hot water, and when they are cool enough to handle – but still hot – slip them from their skins. This might take some effort, and unless you’re a magician, there will probably remain a few tiny bits of skin. Not a big deal. Just discard the skins as best you can and move on.

  3. MAKE THE PUREE: In the small pot, combine the heavy cream and butter and bring the mixture to a boil. (it boils over quickly, so keep an eye on it.)

  4. In the meantime, return the potatoes to the large pot and mash them with the potato masher. Once the cream mixture has come to a boil, pour it in increments into the potatoes and mix well. Add cream. Mash. Add cream. Mix. Do not overwork the potatoes. When the mixture is creamy and smooth, season with salt and pepper and serve.

IMPROVISATION:

There are a lot of chefs in this country who are getting a lot of mileage from “Truffle Mashed Potatoes.” Now, fresh truffles are very expensive, and I doubt you’ll want to use them for something as simple as mashed potatoes. But don’t worry. Most of these chefs aren’t using fresh stuff either. Simply make the recipe above, drop a teaspoon of the relatively inexpensive canned “black truffle peelings” into the mix, then jack it with a few drops of white truffle oil.

Chive mashed potatoes? Sure! Simply drop a bunch of chives into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Immediately cool in ice water to retain the bright green color. Chop roughly, then puree in a blender with a little oil to moisten. Push through a fine strainer, then fold the result into your potatoes, along with some fresh chopped chives.

Roasted pepper mashed potatoes? Roast red peppers. Peel off the skins. Remove seeds and stem. Puree. Mix with spuds.

Tartiflette

Is there any better combination than bacon, cheese, and potatoes?

Tartiflette

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb slab bacon, cut into small dice
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb Reblochon cheese

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Place the potatoes in the large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with the pairing knife. Remove from the heat, drain, and let sit until they are cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes into a small dice and set aside.

  3. In the large saute pan, heat the oil over high heat and add the onion. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, until golden brown, then add the bacon and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and place half of it in the round, ovenproof dish. Spread half the Reblochon atop the potato mixture. Cover this with the other half of the potato mixture. Top with the remainder of the cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve hot.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts

If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, this is a tasty way to cook them. You can use any kind of nut you want. I’ve tried it with pecans and walnuts.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons water

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Put the Brussels sprouts and butter on cookie sheet and cook until the butter browns, about 5 minutes.

  3. Toss the Brussels sprouts, add the nuts and cook about 7 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle with water and cook another 8 or 9 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are slightly brown.

Roasted Split Chicken with Mustard Crust

Here’s a quick way to cook a juicy chicken. Add a little white wine to the deglaze the pan after cooking the chicken and reduce by half. Then add a cup or two of homemade chicken stock and reduce that by half.

Roasted Split Chicken with Mustard Crust

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)

METHOD:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.

  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut alongside the backbone of the chicken to split it open. Spread and press on the chicken with your hands to flatten it. Using a sharp paring knife, cut halfway through both sides of the joints connecting the thighs and drumsticks and cut through the joints of the shoulder under the wings as well. (This will help the heat penetrate these joints and accelerate the cooking process.)

  3. Put the chicken skin side down on a cutting board and spread it with about half the mustard mixture. Place the chicken flat in a large skillet, mustard side down. Spread the remaining mustard on the skin side of the chicken. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, then place the skillet in the oven and cook the chicken for about 30 minutes. It should be well browned and dark on top.

  4. Let the chicken rest in the skillet at room temperature for a few minutes, then cut it into 8 pieces with clean kitchen shears. Defat the cooking juices. Pour some juice on the chicken and serve.

Simple Winter Squash Mash

This is such a simple recipe, but the end result is very tasty.

Simple Winter Squash Mash

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 winter squash, or sugar pumpkin
  • 2-3 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, grass-fed
  • salt

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place face down on a cookie sheet. Cook about an hour, until it is soft.

  3. Mash the squash and mix with butter, sage, and salt.

Onglet Gascon

The two things that make this recipe is the marrow and sauce, in that order. If you’re going to skip the marrow, don’t bother making this dish. If you don’t like marrow all I can say is what’s wrong with you?

And don’t skimp on the sauce. Use homemade veal stock and demi-glace. If you try using anything else, it’s going to suck.

To get out the marrow, soak the bones in cold water for a while and then, using your thumb, push the marrow through and out the other side of the bone. Hold in ice water until ready to use.

Onglet Gascon

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 6oz onglet steaks
  • salt and freshly cracked peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • marrow from 4 beef bones
  • 2 ounces white wine
  • 1/2 cup strong, dark veal stock, (nice to have a little demi-glace here, too)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • course sea salt
  • 2 sprigs flat leaf parsley, chopped

METHOD:

  1. COOK THE STEAK AND THE MARROW: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Put the oil in the saute pan and heat over high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon/14 g of the butter. When it has foamed and subsided, add the steaks, working in batches, as you don’t want to overcrowd (and hence cool down) the pan. Using the tongs, turn the steaks, cooking about 2 minutes on each side. Put the pan aside without washing it.

  2. Transfer the steaks to the small roasting pan and add the bone marrow. Place in the oven and cook for 5 minutes (maybe 8 for medium rare). Remove the meat from the pan, but leave in the marrow for seven additional minutes, until it is cooked through – meaning no pink, white, or red color remains. Place the steaks on the plate to rest.

  3. THE SAUCE: Return the saute pan to the heat and stir in the wine with the wooden spoon. You know this by now, right? Or did you just jump to this recipe? Okay. Fine. Make sure to scrape up the nice brown stuff with the spoon as you deglaze with the wine. Reduce the wine by half. stir in your stock (and now’s the time to sneak in a little of our demi-glace stash). Reduce by half. Got any juices leaking out of your resting meat? I’ll bet you do. Put that in the sauce, too. Whisk in the remaining butter (that’s called monter au beurre if you wanted to know) and remove from heat. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard and adjust the seasonings.

  4. SERVE: Arrange the meat on the platter with the marrow around it. Spoon the mustard sauce over the steaks. Sprinkle the sea salt over the marrow. Sprinkle the parsley over everything.

Simple Roasted Turkey

Such a simple recipe, but the turkey turned out moist and juicy. I did add sliced up lemon to the onion and herbs I stuffed in the cavity. I also made sure to check the temperature of thighs (165 degrees) as well as the breast.

Simple Roasted Turkey

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 14-16 pound organic turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme and/or sage
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Triangle of heavy duty aluminum foil big enough to cover the breast

METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees F.

  2. Rinse turkey and pat dry inside and out. Season cavity with salt and pepper. Peel onion and cut into wedges. Place in cavity with herbs. Rub outside with oil and season with salt. Place in roasting pan.

  3. Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting not including the 30 minutes at 500. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Easy Turkey Stock

I love making stock. Why? It’s the smell (as Agent Smith would say). I love the way it fills the whole house. I ended up simmering it about 15 hours total. I also let it simmer with the aromatic vegetables for the last 3 of the hours.

Easy Turkey Stock

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large turkey drumsticks
  • 2 large turkey wings
  • 2 spanish onion, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut in pieces
  • 4 ribs celery cut in pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, cracked beneath a pan or with mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • fresh parsley and thyme (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Roast the turkey (you should have 5 or 6 pounds/2 or 3 kilos) in hot oven till it looks delicious (see donna pix above). Put them in a big pot and cover them completely with water, 3 to 4 quarts/liters. Turn your oven to 180 or 200 degrees F/80 or 90 degrees C. When the water comes to a boil, put the pot in the oven for 8 hours or over night.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients (if you don’t have enough room, remove the turkey, it will have cooked out by now). Bring to a simmer, then reduce temperature to low, and cook for another hour. Strain into a clean pot. Cool, then refrigerate.

  3. Discard fat that’s congealed on top. Reduce to 1-1/2 to 2 quarts/liters before making gravy.

Flatiron Steak with Herb Butter

When you think of all the different ways you can prepare a steak, sometimes the simplest are the best. This simple recipe has got to be my favorite. It takes very little time and the flavors are spectacular. The one thing you really need to do though, is learn to test the doneness of your steak by touch. The times in the recipe are longer than I’ve had to cook it.

Flatiron Steak with Herb Butter

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 10-ounce flatiron steaks
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme
  • 4 1/2-inch-thick rounds Maitre d’Hotel Butter

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Generously season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the salt and pepper will also season the shallots as they cook.

  3. Place two large skillets over high heat. Add 1/8 inch of canola oil to each skillet and heat until hot. Add 2 steaks and 1 teaspoon of butter to each skillet, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for about a minute to brown the first side. Turn the steaks over, tilt the skillet, and use a spoon to baste the meat as it sautes on the second side. When the second side of the steak has browned, but the steak is still quite undercooked, drain off any excess fat. Scatter half the shallots, thyme, and remaining butter around the steaks in each skillet and stir to combine. After 2 or 3 minutes, when the steaks are cooked to rare, transfer them to a small baking sheet. Continue to cook the shallots until they have softened but have not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Spoon the shallots over the steaks and place the baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the steaks are cooked to medium-rare. Place a round of maitre d’hotel butter on top of each steak and return to the oven just until the butter begins to melt.

Maitre d’Hotel Butter

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

METHOD:

  1. Put the butter in a small bowl and stir with a spoon or stiff spatula until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

  2. Cut a piece of plastic wrap and form the butter into a rough log about 4 inches long, about 2 inches from one end of the plastic wrap. Roll up the butter in the plastic, then twist the ends to form a compact log about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. (The butter can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.)

Filets De Poisson Bercy Aux Champignons

For our monthly Advanced Wine Class, I made this fish dish from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I thought it would go well with the wine theme, which was Wines of Champagne. Just a warning. This dish is rich. On the other hand, if you are someone who doesn’t really like fish, this dish is good choice. The earthy flavors of the mushroom and the creaminess of the sauce make the fish almost secondary.

Filets De Poisson Bercy Aux Champignons

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 lb. or 3-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 2-1/2 lbs. filets of sole or flounder
  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups cold, white wine fish stock made from heads, bones, and trimmings
  • OR 1/4 cup dry white wine or 2/3 cup dry white vermouth plus 1/4 cup bottled clam juice, and water
  • OR 1-1/2 cups wine and water mixed
  • Buttered brown paper or waxed paper (do not use aluminum foil-it will discolor the wine)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons flour blended to a paste with 3 Tb softened butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter cut into bits

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  2. In an enameled skillet, toss the mushrooms in hot butter over moderately high heat for a minute or two without browning. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

  3. Season the filets lightly with salt and pepper and arrange them in one slightly overlapping layer in the dish. If filets are thin, they may be folded in half so they make triangles. Spread the mushrooms over them.

  4. Pour in the cold liquid and enough water so fish is barely covered. Bring almost to the simmer on top of the stove. Lay the buttered paper over the fish. Then place dish in bottom third of preheated oven. Maintain liquid almost at the simmer for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets. The fish is done when a fork pierces the flesh easily. Do not overcook; the fish should not be dry and flaky. Place a cover over the dish and drain out all the cooking liquid into an enameled saucepan.

  5. Preheat broiler.

  6. Rapidly boil down the poaching liquid until it has reduced to 1 cup.

  7. Off heat, beat the flour and butter paste into the hot liquid, then 1/2 cup of the cream. Bring to the boil. Thin out the sauce with additional tablespoons of cream until it coats the spoon nicely. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice.

  8. Spoon the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle on the cheese, and dot with butter. Place dish 6 to 7 inches from a hot broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to reheat fish and brown top of sauce lightly. Serve as soon as possible.

  9. (*) Dish may be prepared ahead and reheated as follows: After sprinkling on the cheese and butter, set aside. Before serving, reheat just to the simmer on top of the stove, then run for a minute or two under a hot broiler to brown the top of the sauce.

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