Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rable de lapereau farci aux trompettes de la mort et pignons, purée de racine de persil

Yesterday morning I was up early and drinking coffee from a bowl. I was trying not to think about the leftover fondant au chocolat that was loosely covered with foil on the buffet. Tying up a few loose ends. There's that project of the database. There are a whole bunch of contacts that I keep throwing into what has grown to be a huge pile of cards and scraps of paper and things written on corners of things and notes which were meant to be comptes rendus of conversations with people all piled on my desk for the secretary to organize. That would be the inner secretary. What is to become of her? My my.

Managing to get some piles sorted, I didn’t want to stop there. Once I'd got to the pile of cooking schools and places that give cooking classes, I let myself dream for a moment. The grandiose daydream of purchasing a large one-room apartment on the quai above the market which I have been working on for some time was summoned to appear. I’ll turn it into just one big huge fabulous kitchen with cots that fold down from the wall for the serious foodies coming to town who will rough it to make space for what is really important in life. Their goal is learning, cooking and eating in Lyon. I had just gotten to the light fixtures (the ideal fixture would have to be commissioned by a glassblower) suspended above the island in the middle of the voluminous workspace, and reality kicked in. What the hell am I thinking? Where am I going to get the money to do this? Whoa there, Lucy. Take a deep breath. Type your list. Time to take things one step at a time.

How air-headed it was to call the Emile Henry boutique to see if they had a place in this afternoon’s class! I just dialed and asked if they had a space. They're only 5 blocks down the street from me. Too simple. The very nice lady said they were booked through December. Good Lord. I had no idea. "I am so sorry," I responded, ready to leave that idea behind and resume my normal unschooled life. I really can't afford it anyway. I was fully prepared to keep that lunch date with Callan. Then she said: "But… It looks like someone cancelled this morning… "

The kitchen upstairs at the Emile Henry boutique is one room with parquet floors, a marble fireplace, an island in the middle with bar height stools, enough room for 7 students and an instructor to work in a close, well lit, communicative environment. Today our instructor was Chef W. Mahl, who came down from Paris to teach the class. He works at the restaurant l’Orangerie in the Paris 4e, under chef Michel del Burgo, who’s fame comes from his previous position as head chef at Taillevent. There were 7 students and we had him for the afternoon. We were equipped with cutting boards, dishtowels, aprons, a knife, and a small metal bowl each.

The class was a good combination of demonstration, general discussion of ingredients, and a chance for us to execute the basic elements of the dish he wanted to teach us. I was especially happy with the general cooking discussion going on, the friendly atmosphere, where I learned a few things and had a really good time.

What did I learn? Well, for one thing, I learned the best way to wash trompettes de la mort. These are some pretty sandy dirty escargot laden fungi albeit delicious. I always hesitate to pick them up at the market for fear of the nasty washing up job. Chef Mahl showed us exactly how painless and easy the cleanup can be.

I also learned something about this mushroom and its natural affinity for the flavors of coriander and basil, an interesting and very tasty combination that I have never had the opportunity to enjoy before.

I learned that chef Mahl likes to include an aromatic bouquet when he boils potatoes, and his method of seasoning. The bouquet idea and his idea of braising potatoes in a casserole in the oven instead of boiling on the stove top is also something I plan to try the next time I am making a puree de pommes de terre. I learned by watching and doing.

The recipe provided by Chef Mahl did not contain any proportions, nor did it include all of the ingredients we used, because his deciding to focus on the mushrooms, in high season at the moment, at the last minute.

He stressed that this method of rolling a stuffing in this way and then roasting it this way can be used with any meat, poultry, or fish. Rabbit was what we cooked in the class, but the possibilities are endless.

Fish, Chicken, Rabbit, game, beef, pork, etc. are all possibilities, as are any combination of herbs.

This is the kind of advice I like. It is all about ideas, and flexibility, and having fun.

We each prepared a very small version of the dish he proposed, just enough to get us ready to take it one step further.

Oh, and we got a free gratin dish!

Today I shopped at St. Antoine and decided to prepare this dish in my own kitchen while its fresh in my mind. I was thinking that a puree of something a little bit different might really make this special. I saw some parsley roots from the producers that sell the flower bulbs in the fall. What a great idea! The man cut off a piece of the root for me to taste. Slightly peppery, no hint of sweetness. What a great idea for a puree to accompany a rabbit dish!

Rable de lapereau farci aux trompettes de la mort et pignons, purée de racine de persil

for 4 people :

4 young rabbit saddles or a combination of rabbit saddles and chicken breasts
about 100 grams or 1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 a bunch of coriander
1/2 a bunch of basil
200 grams or 1/3 pound black trumpet mushrooms
200 grams or 1 1/2 sticks butter
4T. butter
salt and pepper
500 grams of parsley root (not parsnips!)
1/2 cup basic mixed poultry stock (duck, chicken, guinea hen)
3 Tablespoons creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream

Note: This is a seasonal recipe. As the black trumpet mushrooms come into season, they fall just on the cusp of the time when you can find local fresh basil. Basil is on the way out, trumpets are in, and coriander is fresh and plentiful at the moment. The window is short, but when really fresh, the combination is a powerful one. The time is now.

About black trumpet mushrooms:

Choose dry firm mushrooms that are in tact if possible. Avoid any that look slimy or are wet, because they risk being past their prime.

About parsley root:

Parsley roots are NOT parsnips. They are the comestible root of parsley. They have a slight peppery savory flavor that does not resemble the sweet flavor of parsnips at all. If you do not have parsley root, prepare your favorite mashed potato dish!

- Clean your black trumpet mushrooms.
Remove the muddy stump from the mushrooms that have them.

Tear them into thin strips, removing any visible large debris and insects or snails.

Immerse them in water for just a few seconds agitating the bath quickly to allow the sediment and sand to come off of the mushrooms.

A quick bath - do not soak them.
Repeat this process up to 4 times, until there is not more sediment in the water, and dry them promptly in a clean dish towel. Do not let the mushrooms soak. This process should be a quick one.

Nice and dry after 4 quick rinses.

- Clean and cut the herbs.

Wash them, dry them, remove the leaves from the coriander and basil, roll, and cut into a fine chiffonade.

- Remove the fat and any organs from the rabbit saddle.

- Debone the rabbit saddle by cutting down along side of the spine, resulting in two pieces that include the thick back muscle and the thin side flaps. To try and make the flap, which is diagaonally shaped into a rectangle, slice carefully into the saddle meat to roll it out slightly. It should remain in one piece.

If you are using chicken, flatten the chicken breast by cutting into the large edge from the middle and folding out as if opening a book, then in the opposite direction to make one large flat fillet.

- Chop the pine nuts roughly and set aside.

- Heat 1 tablsepoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan until hot and add the mushrooms. Season with salt to allow them to selease their juice. Add the pine nuts when the juice begins to reduce. When the saute begins to release a toasted nutty aroma, add the herbs, and toss for another minute or two and remove from heat.

- Spread the mushroom mixture onto the thin flap of the rabbit or onto 3/4 of the flattened chicken breast, and roll. Fix the stuffed saddle with twine.

- Peel the parsley root, cut it into small pieces.

- Heat the remaining butter and oil in a large saute pan, and when sizzling hot, add the stuffed rabbit and/or chicken rolls, turning every few minutes to brown on each side over high heat, and then lowering the heat somewhat to keep the oils from burning.

- Spoon 2 tablespoons of the meat rolls cooking fat into a seperate saucepan, and add the parsley root over high heat. Toss and stir to keep it from burning but allow it to brown only slightly. Add the mixed poultry stock and cover tightly, and set the timer for 15 minutes.

- Continue to saute the stuffed rabbit and/or chicken, tilting the pan and spooning the cooking juices over the meat to keep it from drying out. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, and test the poultry either with a probe thermometer or cut to visually see that the meat is done.

- Mash the parsley root with a fork, add the creme fraiche, refresh with butter if desired, and season.

- Serve on warm plates: remove the twine, and cut off the ends of the stuffed meat rolls to provide a blunt end to stand up on. Cut each roll in half diagonally and arrange with the mashed parsley root.

Chicken on the right, rabbit on the left. The rabbit has a more delicate flavor and balances the flavor from the mushrooms, while the chicken seems to bring out the flavor of the herbs more. We enjoyed this with a light young Saumur Champigny, Domaine des Varinelles. If you are choosing an American wine, look for a Cabernet Franc. A mes amis français: vos commentaires en français sont bienvenus!

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Blogger Alhya said...

Je découvre que vous êtes lyonnaise et fine cuisinière!! quel plat et quelle leçon de cuisine! vos photos sont extrêmement belle et je n'ai qu'un regret ne pas avoir su plus tôt que vous êtiez lyonnaise pour vous convier hier à notre rendez vous de bloggeuses... une prochaine fois peut être si cela vous intéresse!

10:37 AM, October 22, 2006  
Blogger David said...

I've seen chervil root, but never parsley root...will have to keep an eye out for it! The class sounded great...but no dessert??

12:59 PM, October 22, 2006  
Blogger christine said...

It looked like a wonderful class. You were lucky to get in. Thanks for the vitual tour. It was almost like being there!

3:38 PM, October 22, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a fabulous post, Lucy!

I have never thought of coriander and mushroom. And I am certainly not brave enough to do anything with rabbit. But, still — what a wonderful way to spend a day!

You have the ability to bring us to Lyon via the Internet.

5:49 PM, October 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the mushrooms look fabulous. and again, your post is beautifully composed and tells a great story.

5:39 AM, October 23, 2006  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Alhya, peut etre la prochaine fois? J'adore ton blog!

David, David. Always asking about dessert.

misschrisc, thanks for stopping by! It was actually you that got me all inspired to get organized!

Mimi dear, come now. Don't knock it till you try it. In any case, I know that some folks are not rabbitvores - note this recipe can be done with chicken.

Connie, thanks for the uplifting comment!

12:59 PM, October 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a good student that you are!!! This is the best way to remember a recipe, make it right away
It looks delicious!

3:06 PM, October 23, 2006  
Blogger wheresmymind said...

That looks so incredible! Sounds like you learned some good techniques which, to me, are far more important than a recipe :)

3:19 PM, October 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stunning as always, Lucy.

You know, the first thing that leapt to my mind when I read this post was "tartiflette". Weird association though.


8:36 PM, October 24, 2006  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Bea, thanks for stopping by and your comment!

Brian, I did get a lot out of that class, even more than about cooking. There's always something new to learn.

Stash, yep, that's a pretty wierd association. Thanks for telling me, though!

9:10 AM, October 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Needed this recipe years brothers went rabbit hunting near our home in their youth, they got their rabbits but used too much ammunition...just enough useable meat for your recipe I beleive...

12:09 PM, October 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh bestill my beating heart! I had no idea that emile henry had a cooking school. their crockery is my absolute favorite in the whole world
now, i just have to get to Lyon!

9:41 PM, November 01, 2006  

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