Posts Tagged ‘Meat’
It’s recently come to my attention that I may not be the most objective measure of the average’s person affinity for France. Seeing as I’ve been somewhat of a francophile since, oh, about forever, I think a part of me just takes it for granted that everyone in the world wants to dress as chic as Parisienne women do and eat savory pastries and croissants and pear-almond tarts all day long. I mean, everyone does want that, right?
But then I read things like this, and it causes me to think: is quiche something that’s taboo, blasée? (See, I can’t even avoid throwing in French words every chance I get. Somebody stop me.) I honestly can’t understand it because, seriously, it seems silly that someone wouldn’t want to eat savory meats and vegetables suspended by cream and cheese and eggs, wrapped up in a buttery crust. Maybe all the fat scares people away. Or maybe it just isn’t in the radar of American meals anymore—quiche and savory tarts are saved for special occasions, or for cocktail parties around the holidays when you can heat up those little mini quiches that you find in the freezer aisle. Who knows.
Anyway, as Mimi from Manger wrote, quiche lorraine truly is something that is as classic and common as good baguettes around here. From what it seems like, everyone knows how to make it, and make it they do—especially when they need something quick, easy and reliable for a nice lunch or dinner. This is do in part to the fact that most just tend to use store-bought puff pastry for the pastry shell. My host mom always has at least one roll of puff pastry in the freezer, and there’s no shame or guilt attached to not making your own from scratch. I like this. Because in the end, I’m not sure it really matter—if you can prep an entire, delicious quiche in about 10 minutes and it comes out smelling of flaky, buttery pastry and of cheese and bacon, there’s nothing to complain about.
(With that being said, I do like the idea of making one’s own pâte brisée or shortcrust pastry for the quiche. The quality of store-bought puff pastry is good around here, but still, homemade is always nice. I just don’t like it for how it makes what should be a weeknight, casual sort of thing into something labor-intensive and stressful.)
Regarding the thought that’s probably most preventing you from actually considering making this: yes, there is a lot of fat in quiche, and especially a quiche lorraine. I used to be a little scared of it, too—I was one of those people who worshiped Julia Child for saying things like “if you’re afraid of butter, use cream,” but then whenever I cooked I would be stingy with the amount I was using. But living in France and adjusting to eating here has definitely done something to me. All I can say is: butter is good. And in case you’re wondering, all the thin, pretty women walking around Paris eat quiche, too.
PS I realize that I posted about quiche lorraine earlier in the summer, back when I announced that I was going to be living in France for this year. So when, last Thursday afternoon, I found bacon lardons, crème fraîche and ready-made puff pastry and decided to make a quiche lorraine for myself and the kids for dinner that night, I thought it’d be kind of useless to share it on here. But I do feel like this recipe and story is different—at least to me, it seems to be more French in how it is straightforward and nothing too special-occasion. But nonetheless delicious and a fine meal. (Or maybe that’s just how it seems to me because I’m the one making them and thus of course it feels different for me.) Plus, this recipe has more bacon and I added cheese. So that can’t be bad.
Serves 4 to 6
I have no idea how big the baking dish I used was—it was what my host family has around and uses for quiches, though I think it’s wider and more shallow than the standard 9-inch baking dish. Just go with whatever you have and use intuition to know when the quiche is done. Also, if you don’t have crème fraîche, you could just substitute 300 ml cream in place of it and the milk.
150 – 200 grams bacon lardons, chopped
200 ml crème fraîche
100 ml milk
freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
100 grams Emmenthal or Gruyère, grated
230 grams of puff pastry, store-bought, quick-made, or otherwise
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).
In a skillet over medium heat, fry up the bacon lardons until they’re golden and cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to cool slightly. In a medium-large bowl, mix together the eggs, crème fraîche, milk, a pinch of nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a big dusting of black pepper together until the mixture lightens and becomes slightly frothy.
Roll out the pastry and line a 9- or 10-inch round baking dish. Pour in the egg and milk mixture; sprinkle the cooked bacon lardons and grated cheese evenly over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the quiche has puffed up and browned. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or cold.
And because I am basically a weatherwoman: in other news, Paris is still warm, gray, and muggy. Woohoo! (Not.)
Being home has proved to be a bittersweet excuse for me to recklessly abandon all attempts at cooking. Why cook to feed myself, when the pantry and fridge are full (thank you, mom and dad) and there is that butter and sugar and flour waiting to be baked up into something delicious? It’s in the holiday spirit to bake, after all!
Everyone’s already gotten used to the higher influx of baked goods that circulate every couple days. Last night when my sister, brother and I were watching television my Dad walked in the room and in a hopeful tone asked, “Amy, aren’t there any treats to eat?” It’s became the assumption that there is always something sweet to snack on around here, so when I replied reminding him that there was leftover chocolate hazelnut yule log hidden in the fridge, everything seemed as it should.
But really, I haven’t given up on cooking. My mom passed off the responsibility of Christmas dinner to me this year. Ha, as if it were a responsibility! I received this “responsibility” as easily as I received my Christmas presents. (I should note here that I only had to plan this for 5 of my immediate family members, including myself. There wasn’t much pressure to succeed if it all fell through in the end anyway.) I plotted my menu, and it came to be something like this:
Pot Roast Risotto. More details on this later, obviously.
Braised kale with lemon, onion and red pepper flakes.
Salad with fennel, dried cherries, walnuts and roquefort.
These fresh potato-buttermilk rolls.
And for dessert, a chocolate-hazelnut yule log (also known as buche de noel).
Pretty simple, but everyone liked it and I’d like to think it all went fairly well in the end. From these things I want to share the pot roast risotto though. It’s a fairly straightforward recipe: sear the beef, braise in oven, use braised juices to feed the risotto. This concept of using the leftover braised liquid to flavor the risotto comes from Tyler Florence, and I think it’s pretty neat. It resulted in a really flavorful risotto and a pretty presentation with all the meat piled on top of a big heap of risotto (please forgive the photography that does little to show off the dish). As most all pot roasts are, the meat was tender and fell off the bone as we dug our forks however barbarically into the serving dish itself to grab at pieces of meat.
While this little stint at Christmas dinner got me in the mood in to cook, I’m afraid I’ve already begun retreating into that little comfortable cove of the oven with baking sweet treats. I blame you, wintertime and the holiday season.
Pot Roast Risotto
Adapted from Tyler Florence, here
Serves about six
6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 lb beef shoulder (I actually used a ribeye cut, because it was on sale. A lot of different cuts work, though.)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 large onions, sliced roughly
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup red wine
1-2 quarts beef stock (depending on how large your dutch oven is)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups pot-roast braising stock, strained, skimmed and heated
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
To start with the pot roast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the pot roast and season liberally all over with salt and pepper. You can’t really over-do this when it comes to this. Meanwhile, heat three or four tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a cover. When the oil is hot enough that it shimmers (and maybe even smokes), add the meat in the pot. Sear each side for about one or two minutes, making sure to sear the sides as well. The meat should get a nice crust and even, dark color. Once seared, add the garlic, chopped onions, thyme sprigs. Then pour in the red wine and stock, adding in the beef stock until liquid comes up to about half the height of the meat (this depends on how large your pot is).
Cover the pot tightly and place in the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours until the beef is fork tender, while making sure to bast the meat every thirty minutes or so with the pan juices and stock. Set the meat aside and take out the vegetables and thyme. Strain the braising liquid and skim the fat. This stock will be used to make the risotto, and if the fat isn’t skimmed out, the risotto will be heavier and greasier than it should. The stock should be kept warm on low heat throughout the process of making the risotto.
To prepare the risotto, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of butter in a large, deep skillet (12-inches is best) set over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the rice, making sure to coat all the grains with the oil. Add the white wine and thyme leaves and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. At this point, ladle in 1 cup of the prepared, hot braising stock. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice constantly until most of the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding stock, one cup at a time, as the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, making sure to consistently stir the rice. After about 10 to 15 minutes of this process, test the rice. It should be cooked and creamy but still be slightly al dente (you may not need all of the stock). Season with salt and pepper and then stir in about two tablespoons of butter and the grated parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning then remove from heat and cover. Serve the dish with the pot roast placed on top of the risotto and sprinkled with parsley. Extra pan juices can be served over the roast and risotto, if desired.