Saturday, August 25, 2007

Vichyssoise and Blanquette de Veau

Vichyssoise! It's supposed to be cold (Holy Batman reference!).

Didn't take a picture of the mise this time but caught the ingredients lounging there all unawares:

It's a nice and simple recipe. If you like onions and potatoes (hash browns anyone?) then you like this soup. It's creamier, it's a bit more work, but it's basically onion and potato soup. Sweat the white part of the leaks, cut the potatoes into cubes, and then dump in with a bunch of chicken stock. Cook until potatoes are mushy, blend, strain, add cream and nutmeg (I forgot the nutmeg), salt to taste, chill. Garnish with some chives and you get:

Nice and easy. Mine came out slightly thick (too many potatoes) but the great thing is you can thin out the soup to the desired texture at the blending stage. Just add more stock! OK, that was easy. On to the Blanquette de Veau.

According to Bourdain, it's all about white. Everything should be white. Well ok, mushrooms won't be white no matter how you cook'em but the sauce should be white so it'll cover parts of the mushrooms. Mise below:

Pearl onions and the button mushrooms will both be covered with water and boiled until the water's gone with a pat (about a tablespoon) of butter. The big onion, celery, carrot, and the bouquet garni (the white cheesecloth package down there) go in to a big pot with all the veal. Shoulder, cut into 2 inch squares. Once the veal is cooked (about 2 hours) and all the scum skimmed off, you'll be left with fragrant veal soup. Yum!

Next step is the sauce: make a roux by blending flour into butter after the butter has been heated and the foam subsided. Don't burn the flour like I did! It'll brown the sauce and then Bourdain will get mad at you and you don't want an obnoxious bastard like him making snarky comments about your roux. He chewed me out RIGHT as my flour hit the butter.

Once the roux is made, mix in a bit of the veal stock slowly to emulsify. Continue mixing and adding in the liquid until it's all blended. Cook until it starts to thicken (not too much!). At that point salt and pepper to taste and add in the pearl onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 5-8 minutes.

When ready to serve, take a bit of the hot sauce and mix an egg yolk and juice from half a lemon into it and then reincorporate back into the sauce. Put some nice white rice on the plate (in a ball if you follow Bourdain's pictures or in whatever fancy schmancy shape you like), some pieces of veal on the plate, and then drizzle with sauce. The pearl onions should melt like a ball of sweet goodness in your mouth and the veal should be fork tender. If you burnt the roux like I did it'll look like this:

Yup. Not quite white. But close. And now I know. Which is half the (culinary) battle. And if also, like me, you made way too many portions for one person, then this is what you'll be eating for the next couple of nights (not that it's a bad thing):

OK, so a bit heavy on the starch. Potato soup, bread, and rice. We've got some protein from the veal and the vegetables? Uhm...onions and mushrooms TOTALLY count. I'll eat more vegetables at other meals anyway.

And yes, two balls of rice look kinda like boobies. You think I didn't notice? Hu hu hu. "Boobies".

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