An opinionated blog beginning with advice on how to create the ultimate French sauces
Intro: I love the lamb shank because of the almost magical transformation that occurs as the shank, a cut of meat full of tough connective tissue, is slowly braised to tender perfection.
As the shank-along with herbs and vegetables-braises in the oven it creates a thin and flavorful sauce called Au Jus (literally "with juice" in French). The au jus provides a wonderful source of extra flavor for your guests to dip the lamb into.
The parmesan thickened polenta that the shrank sits on adds creaminess to the dish as well as adding little bit of a northern Italian accent to the shanks.
Steps to making Lamb Shanks
1) Sear your shanks. In almost smoking oil, sear the lamb shanks, two at a time, on all sides until golden brown and then remove and set them aside
2) Sauté your vegetables, strain out the oil, add your red wine and replace your shanks.
Searing your shanks, two at a time
3) Add chicken stock and the herbs and let the shanks braise in the oven for about two hours.
4) When the shank are done remove them and strain out the garlic, onions, carrots, and herbs. (You can tell when the shanks are done because the meat will loosen from the bone and be tender to the touch. Also the bone itself will start to become ivory-colored).
Shank pulls away from the bone: it is done
Braised Lamb Shank
Terms related to lamb shanks:
Au Jus- Braising liquid or juice.Braising- Method of sautéing a protein and then cooking it in its own juices along with added liquid(s).
Intro: Cheese Soufflé is a savory cake that uses egg whites to expand cheese into a velvety cloud. As with most soufflés, please make sure to serve it quickly form the oven before it loses volume.
Steps to making Cheese Soufflé
1) Make your roux and whisk in the milk.
2) Stir in the cheese. (I really like Emmental for this dish).
Making your roux
3) Fold egg yolks and cheese mixture into stiffly-beaten egg whites.
4) Pour into lightly greased ramekins and bake until the soufflés puff up and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cheese Soufflé garnished with paprika and herbs
Term related to Cheese Soufflé
Roux- A mixture of equal parts fat to flour that are cooked together.
Intro: The Frittatas is a classic Italian dish that incorporates eggs and cream (or milk) and other ingredients together to make what (I think) resembles an open-faced omelette. This dish is often served warm or at room temperature.
Being the Francophile that I am, I made two changes to the frittata to give it both an Italian and French theme.
First, eliminate the extra liquids from the eggs. I believe adding cream or milk robs the eggs of their rich flavor and color and keeps the eggs from rising to their potential height and puffiness.
Second, serve the dish right from the oven. Instead of serving at room temperature, serve the dish piping hot, so the eggs do not have a chance to deflate as the air leaves them.
The result: An enhanced frittata with more egg flavor, a golden color, and a soufflé-like texture.
Making the Frittata
1) Fry the filling. Fry the mushroom and/or vegetables together until they are cooked through.
2) Add your eggs and cook everything. On a low flame, add the eggs and slowly heat the egg mixture, and from time to time tilt the cooked part of the frittata away from the sides of the pan to ensure that the raw eggs slide to the sides and cook evenly. Use your spatula to keep the cooked eggs in place. (See picture below).
Tilting the eggs so that the frittata cooks evenly.
3) Finish in the oven. When the bottom of the omelette is cooked, flip it, top it with cheese, and finish cooking it in a 400 degree oven.
4) Serve your frittata. After the eggs puff up nicely, remove form the oven and serve immediately.
Cheese is added on top
Intro: Chicken Coq au Vin means "rooster in wine" so it gives the cook a great opportunity to show off their favorite wine when they make their main course. (I personally love French burgundy).
For this dish I serve one half chicken per guest: each guest gets an airline chicken breast with the bone in and a de-boned chicken leg. Because of the large chicken portions, I do not add a starch, but the chicken is accompanied by bacon, mushrooms, Cipollini onions and carrots.
Preparing Chicken Coq au Vin
1) On ah medium heat, cook the bacon until it just begins to crisp, and remove the strips but leave the oil in the pan.
2) Add the chicken breasts and boneless legs (skin-side down and away from you) and sear them. Remove them and sear your Cipollini onions and mushroom caps.
3) Drain the oil, and add return the chicken and bacon back to the pan.
4) Add the burgundy and demi glace and place the pan in the oven until the chicken is done.
Removing from the oven
5) When the chicken is done, remove the ingredients from each pan and make your sauce. Do this by placing the pan on a high flame and add your baby carrots and thyme sprigs.
6) Let the sauce reduce (and simultaneously cook the carrots and capture the flavor of the thyme sprigs) until it is creamy in consistency. The sauce will be quite dark in color.
Reducing your sauce
Chicken Coq au Vin
Which is superior, the Rolled Omelette or the Folded Omelette?