Saturday, December 25, 2010
Julien Bompard Reveals Christmas Recipes at De Dietrich
How cool is it to have Chef Julien Bompard personally teach you some French cooking techniques? It's surreal, and it's awesome. He's both distinguished and affable at the same time, and it's just amazing soaking up pearls of culinary wisdom from this newly knighted chef. Customers of De Dietrich regularly get to see him and other well-known chefs on free weekly cooking classes held at their showroom. I was very lucky to be invited for one such session, and I have two pairs of tickets to give away to their classes!
The class is kept deliberately small, with only 10-12 participants sitting bar-style around a kitchen counter - yes, it's all front-row seats, right before the action! It's all very thoughtfully presented with recipe sheets, pencil for additional notes, bottled water and even Gryphon tea if you fancy a warm drink.
Chef Julien will show you how easy it is to make your own foie gras terrine and roast lamb rack at home, all in less than 2 hours. It being Christmas he is adding some festive garniture of chestnut, cranberry confit and celeriac puree.
Foie gras is now quite easily available in Singapore, usually in frozen form. You can get it from some butcheries or La Fromagerie at Chip Bee Gardens (owned by Chef Julien and wife Edith). Chef Julien addressed briefly people's misgivings about foie gras. The production these days is more clean and the ducks are not exactly force fed. If you are still unsure about the ethics of foie gras, here's a well-written piece on the truth and misconceptions about its production.
He then proceeded to demonstrate how easy it is to prepare the dishes, and gave a lot of tips, which I will add here in this photo-walkthrough. You can download the recipes at the end of this bumper post (over 30 photos after the jump).
We begin with the foie gras. Thankfully there is no need to devein foie gras these days, thanks to technology that ensures there's no blood in the liver when it is packed.
Foie gras is like butter, so cut it with a knife that's been warmed in hot water. You can dip in a bucket of hot water after every slice to ensure smooth cutting.
This is the duck liver cut into 12mm slices and seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika on one side. This side goes into the hot pan first. And when it's in the pan, you season the other side, and flip it over once done.
Is there a better sight to behold than foie gras sizzling in a pan? Oh the aroma! Pan-fry them until golden and medium rare. This is an induction hob (power 8), but if you are using a flame stove, use a medium flame. The pan must be hot and almost smoking, but move it out of the heat if necessary.
Deglaze the pan with port wine. Add a teaspoon of honey if you wish, and some green peppercorn if you like your terrine a little spicy. In fact, you can add anything you like for extra flavour - Iberico ham, anyone?
Reduce the mixture by 1/3 and then add gelatin (he used sheet gelatin softened in cold water). Check and rectify the seasoning for taste.
Now we come to the assembly. Wrap the inside of a terrine mould with film paper or cling wrap. Add some jelly sauce at the bottom with peppercorns if you like to see more jelly on top of your terrine. Put one layer of foie gras and then spoon over more jelly. Repeat the layers until the terrine is full.
Chef Julien devised a little cover made from aluminum foil covered with cling wrap (there's probably a thick plastic or cardboard piece in there as well to hold the shape). You press this down gently but firmly to compress the terrine. Not too hard or all the juice will come out on top.
And then he places two packs of butter on top for additional weight. Now we put this in the fridge to set the jelly, ideally for a day.
While the terrine is chilling, we work on the roast lamb. Ingredients - lamb rack, pink garlic, fresh thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cherry tomatoes on the vine add nice colour.
Chef Julien says when you first open a sealed packet of lamb, the strong smell that emerges is natural. Let it breathe a few hours - you can dry it on a plate with cling film covering it.
The recipe calls for trimming extra fat and searing the fat side down in a pan first, but Chef Julien showed that we can be flexible and even skip that step. Just season the lamb rack, dress it with thyme and olive oil.
So pretty and so simple.
Off into the oven it goes. De Dietrich ovens come with pre-set functions for specific meats, and knows how to keep the meat from overcooking. Chef Julien told us a story of a function where the host wanted to unveil the lamb straight from the oven in front of the guests. Of course, the guests were fashionably late, and the speeches much longer than planned, and all this while the lamb was still sitting in the oven. But miraculously, it was perfect when they carved into it. Smart oven saved the day!
If using a conventional oven, bake at 180 degrees (pre-heated) for 8 minutes using circulating heat. When you remove it later, set it aside for 10 minutes before cutting or serving.
And while the lamb is roasting in the oven, we can prepare the lamb sauce. We'll need about 500g of lamb bones or trimmings (for six persons). Most private butchers can set aside for you if you request them in advance. You can also use beef trimmings if you wish.
Heat up a stock pot til very hot and roast the lamb bones with some olive oil (not too much oil or butter, as it will turn watery). Just put the lamb in and leave it alone for a few minutes. Don't be tempted to stir it around (like in a Chinese wok). "Yes, as you can see, there is nothing to do in French cooking!" joked Chef Julien, as we waited for the lamb to sear. "This is the time we open up a bottle of wine..."
Ah yes, this is the kind of crisped browning we are looking for.
Well, while you wait, perhaps it is a good time to get the vegetables all chopped up and ready. You can use whatever you have, not necessarily what's in the recipe. Here we have carrots, celery stalks, onions, garlic and a few sprigs of thyme.
When the meat is browned, add the vegetables and stir. Let them roast until golden.
And now to get the colour of the sauce, we roast some concentrated tomato paste. This is important - make a well in the centre, add some additional oil if necessary (or else the tomato paste will stick to the vegetables and not the pot) and then we fry the tomato paste there. Let it brown properly.
You should get something beautiful like this. Add the thyme or your favourite Provencal herbs (Chef is from Provence!) towards the end. Don't add herbs too early as this will kill the delicate flavours. You just need them to infuse.
Pour in some vegetable or chicken stock, a little at a time. If you put too much at once, it will taste washed out. Reduce the solution and add a bit more. You don't need to make a lot of sauce - maybe just 2 tablespoons per person, just for flavour.
Chef Julien said they tried experimenting with chicken stock cubes before. Big no-no. It totally destroyed the flavours.
Bring it to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Small bones don't cook for long. They will lose flavour. Big kitchens of course, will cook them for longer as they use bigger pots and bones.
When it has reduced, it should be a nice, thick brown like this. You can set it aside to rest and let the flavours infuse a little more into the stock.
And now for celeriac puree. Celeriac is a winter product, very Christmassy and earthy. However, on its own, it may not be very appealing, so there are ways of making it tasty. Here it's cubed along with some apple for fruity acidity and potato to help it homogenize. We put it all into a pot to boil with milk, a dab of butter, salt and pepper.
Simmer for about 20 minutes on medium heat, and don't let it boil for too long. Meanwhile, we get the frozen cranberries out for the confit.
Chef Julien Bompard measuring out some honey for the cranberry confit. So precise at first, two tablespoons. Oh what the heck, let's use the whole small bottle. It's Christmas, after all!
Reduce the honey using high heat, add the cranberries, reduce for another 30 seconds, add the lemon juice and set it aside. Cranberries on their own can be unpleasantly tart, so the lemon adds a more fruity acidity.
Meanwhile, we prepare the chestnuts - another wintry favourite. Many Parisian shops have roasted chestnuts on display, and they have warmed many a hands during winter time. Chestnuts always bring fond memories. For our recipe, use peeled frozen chestnuts. Here we boil in some chicken stock with celery, thyme and white pepper. Simmer on low heat.
Yes, all three items can be cooked simultaneously. Don't the colours look so festive already?
Meanwhile, you can strain the lamb sauce, and reduce it further to desired consistency if needed. The sauce is easy to do, and can be prepared ahead. Store it in the fridge, but mix it up from time to time, because it separates (don't be tempted to remove the oil on top!). As it cools, emulsify it. Use a spatula to gently mix, and not a whisk which will introduce air into it (it spoils faster).
The terrine has set! Although not for a full day, it is ready to eat. If you keep it longer in the fridge, the aspic will be more shiny when cold. Here we have the chef taking it out and slicing it - if you have any leftovers, you can keep them in the fridge, in aluminum foil, away from light exposure.
Of course, for our little group, there's no such thing as leftovers. Look at how beautiful it is. The foie gras had been pan seared on the outside but it was still a little rare inside when we assembled it. It will keep cooking on its own a little bit. Now it is perfect. I loved how the green peppercorn added that bit of kick. And yes, I was amazed at how easy it is to make your own terrine.
Oh the lamb is ready too! The warm celeriac mixture is then hand-blended - there's Balaji, Chef Julien's assistant of five years, making the puree in the background. You mix in a dollop of fresh cream into it at the end.
In France, they like the lamb more rare, but in our parts of the world, we get Australian or New Zealand lamb that somehow doesn't do as well rare. So it is better cooked.
The final product when assembled. Roast rack of lamb with chestnuts, celeriac puree, cranberry confit, tomatoes on the side, all drizzled with that excellent lamb sauce. That plus the terrine, all in under two hours. Yes, you can!
The De Dietrich showroom is also where you can check out the latest range of modern kitchen and household devices. So sleek and gorgeous. Did you know they pioneered the induction hob, steam oven and many other innovative features? It's worth a visit.
And this just in. A superluxurious leather-clad washing machine from De Dietrich. It is so nice to touch, I've never felt like stroking and hugging a washing machine before! These are all hand-stitched, made upon order (takes about six months). All you need is S$10,000.
There is also a leather-clad dishwasher, for you to do dishes in style.
But yes, back to the recipes - you can download here
Julien Bompard Recipes Demonstrated at De Dietrich.docx
And I have two pairs of tickets to upcoming classes at De Dietrich to give away. Just leave a comment below and let me know which De Dietrich product impresses you the most (you can view their website here). I will do a random draw on Jan 8, so bookmark this page and check back if you have won. If you leave an email or web address with contact details, I can notify you too, if you have won. Good luck!
Check out the previous classes, photos and recipes on the De Dietrich Facebook page!
Many thanks to De Dietrich and Foodnews for making this possible! Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone.
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