Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Very short crust;
or, Richard Olney was wrong about something

Some friends gave me Sunday Suppers at Lucques, so I cooked them dinner from it. It's been a while since I did a real dinner party, and I have to admit it was, in fact, fun, both the cooking and the eating.

And the drinking.

The food was uniformly excellent. My first impression of the book was not charitable: poor man's Zuni. Second impression: how many braised fucking short rib recipes am I going to have to read before I die?

But I constructed a menu and forged ahead. The book is of course organized by season, and it is not Goin's fault that I had to choose recipes from three different seasons in the middle of our dark February food hole. (But it is bullshit to pretend that spring onions are called young onions so you can put them in the winter chapter).

I followed the recipes as closely as I ever will (not that closely: I stuck with chuck for the daube instead of Goin's dubious introduction of short ribs). They seemed a little fussy, but everything turned out à point, with a depth of flavor and attention to detail that proved the seemingly unnecessary flourishes to have been essential. Her versions of two standards, daube and flammekuche, were exemplary, both true to what they are supposed to taste like, but with a little extra.

I'm sorry, Suzanne, for doubting you.

The flammekuche did raise an interesting issue: the story of the really short crust. All her tarts call, sensibly, for frozen puff pastry. Who in their right mind would make puff pastry at home? Well, after my usual purveyors were out of the frozen stuff, and I was too lazy to go further afield (metaphorically: the other options were actually closer than the places I'd struck out, just to give you a sense of the perversity of my laziness), I did. Or rather, I made some calls, said "fuck that," and looked through books until I found someone to cater to my laziness. Shockingly, this turned out to be Richard Olney, who suggests in Simple French Food that pâte brisée can be made to puff by a few rounds of the roll, fold, refrigerate, repeat method one uses for real puff pastry.

Wrong.

Now, I'm a pastry ingenue, so the fault probably lies in my hot little hands. And I used italian 00 flour of unknown protein composition, wanting (I thought) to keep the crust as short as possible. Let's just say it was so short it resembled a map of Indonesia more than the continents Russ complains about. But I'm pretty sure the handling required is never going to produce an acceptable feuilletée or brisée.

Anyway, we learned three important things this weekend:

  1. Buy Sunday Suppers at Lucques no matter how many short rib recipes you have
  2. Buy the frozen fucking puff pastry you lazy fuck
  3. Cooking is still fun

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just tried my first SSL recipe a few days ago, the "herb-roasted pork loin." I didn't actually have a pork loin, instead a "tri-tip" which trussed up has a rather different shape, but I figured I could just change the oven parameters a bit and it would work out. It was basically the herb-crusting part I was interested in. Other than the cut, I followed everything closely, and it did feel a little fussy, but I went ahead and gave it the full night's marinade and all... Full of optimism, I started in on the actual cooking and immediately had huge problems with the marinade coming off and burning during the sear. She warns about this, but even with the admonition in mind I wasn't able to avoid it. So that ruined the jus, and then while the roasting part came out fine, it didn't seem like the marinade had added a lot to the meat. Possibly because of the chunky shape, but even close to the surface I couldn't really tell.

I'll give the flammekuche a try, though.

Sun Mar 11, 08:34:00 AM GMT  
Blogger mmw said...

The marinade then sear operation is fraught with difficulty. In a case like this, I say let it drain on a rack, then towel off the rest, and add the marinade back in after the sear. I'm also skeptical of a tri-tip for loin substitution, but I agree that the replication of restaurant x-crusted-y would be of interest at home.

Mon Mar 12, 04:04:00 PM GMT  
Blogger mmw said...

Tana tired to add the following.
...but stupid Blogger's word verification won't let me. (I hate that shit.)

Anyway, about braised short ribs:

Last night I made the braised short ribs recipe from Charlie Trotter's Meat cookbook: 1 c. leeks, 1 c. fresh grated horseradish, 2 minced jalapeƱos, 1 c. onions, six cloves of garlic (saute until golden brown, about 7 minutes), add 1-1/2 c. chicken stock and the same amount of red wine, 3 sprigs rosemary, and dump that on top of your browned/seared short ribs (English style, 8 of them) in a pot. Bake at 350 for three hours or so. For the final hour, add a Pyrex dish with sixteen whole, peeled shallots tossed in 2 T. olive oil, covered in foil.

Horseradish mashed potatoes on the side.

Absolutely to die for. Melt in the mouth.

Mon Mar 12, 09:37:00 PM GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I've done the flammekuche a few times now, with modest variations, and it's definitely good. Per instructions, I used frozen puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm) the first two times but I found it a bit fussy and flaky and so subsequently I've made it on Trader Joe's prepared pizza dough. It's a different effect, more like a rich, flavorful foccacia, but still very tasty. What I really want to do is put it on a brisee -- the ricotta-creme-egg base is very custardy and quiche-like -- but as yet I haven't taken the time to make the dough. I've had good results with her similar wild mushroom tart as well.

Sat Jul 07, 06:07:00 AM GMT  

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