Monday, August 06, 2007

Man in Kitchen - Blanquette de Lotte

After a mysterious trip to the market by himself, he kicked me out of the kitchen and took a long time there. That's perfectly fine with me, I thought, my feet up, snacking on peanuts and watching an artfully dubbed American policier at the end of the day. I caught a whiff of the lovely fish stew, and the fact that it took so long gave me a hint. There are very few fish that we can simmer and stew. Monkfish is one. My feelers say it costs near €30 a kilo, for the good tail part. If you only buy a little bit, it doesn't destroy the budget.

He graciously shares the recipe he used, from his cookbook, Francoise Bergaud's Mon Bouquin de Cuisine (divided for two, adapted and translated below):

Blanquette de Lotte

For 2 gourmands:

300 grams of monkfish tail in one piece along with with 150 grams of the bones of white fish like sole or halibut, provided by your fishmonger (for free, we hope!)
2 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small leek, green parts removed, sliced thin
1 carrot
1/2 an onion
1 clove
1 bouquet garni
30 grams or three tablespoons of butter
100 grams or three ounces of fresh mushrooms in season
2 teaspoons flour
an egg yolk
1/3 cup creme fraiche or whipping cream
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper

Wash the leeks and cut the carrots into thin strips (the recipe says to grate them but Loic julienned them and they were very pretty that way), peel the onion and pierce it with a clove, and wash the fish bones.

Prepare a fumet: Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a pot, add the carrots and leeks, and cook them carefully without browning them, until they begin to soften. Add the fish bones, the clove pierced onion, the bouquet garni, the white wine, and 2 cups of water; add pepper, but don't add salt because the fish stock should reduce; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

At the end of the 15 minutes, cut the monk fish into big chunks; heat another tablespoon of the butter in a large pot and add them once the butter is hot to just cook them on the outside, without browning them.

Remove the fish bones, onion, and bouquet garni from the fish stock. Season the fish stock, and put it in the pot with the monkfish, bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and let cook for 8 minutes: the monk fish has firm flesh that calls for longer cooking than other fish.

During this time, squeeze 1/2 of the lemon, and mix it in a cup with the egg yolk and creme. Set aside.

Wash the mushrooms and sprinkle with the rest of the lemon juice. Heat the mushrooms with a little bit of butter until they start giving off liquid. Simmer them carefully in their own juice without browning them until they soften. Add them to the monk fish.

At the end of the cooking time of the monk fish, add the flour to the remaining butter by crushing it in and creating a paste, add to the monkfish and mushroom cooking liquid, whisk carefully to incorporate it. Bring it back to a boil. Remove from heat and incorporate the lemon and cream. (he added some leftover new potatoes at the end)

Turn it into a serving dish and serve it immediately.

This dish keeps well for a couple of days in the refrigerator or can be frozen.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dish looks very good and I'll certainly be making it when I locate a fishmonger in my new locality (and when I find enough French words to ask for the wherewithal to make a fumet,....pointing is fine for the lotte but won't help me with the bones). It's very impressive that you can both turn out such wonderful meals in such a tight space.....I think you must be very organised and tidy. I don't like mess when I cook but I do need plenty of space to spread out.

5:20 PM, August 06, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Franchini, it will be wonderful! Ask for des arrettes and all will be well.

I consider my work space as kind of a boat kitchen. We try to keep things neat but sometimes it spills out...

6:47 PM, August 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your title caught my interest.... as the men in my family are no stranger to the kitchen and I like lotte, your story has inspired me to merry them together. Speaking of 'men in the kitchen' I will soon post the recipe I recently made with my uncle for garabaldi biscuits!

2:18 PM, August 07, 2007  
Blogger Helene said...

I love the old charm of your place, down to the tiny kitchen. Beautiful meal, one of my favorites is monkfish.

8:17 PM, August 07, 2007  
Blogger Mercedes said...

This looks wonderful, but what I love best is the tiny sliver of a carrot on the plate. I think monkfish is not very common here, I've never cooked it before. And I love that your kitchen is about the size of mine!

9:48 PM, August 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merci Lucy......des arretes is not a term I could have come up with by myself.

Incidentally, we are lucky enough in our new (rented) house to have a Scholtes oven, hob and fridge...a completely new brand to me that I had never heard of before this week but I have quickly come to appreciate what a dream it is to cook with, particularly the oven which heats to a temperature I have not experienced before now. I'm sure you will know this brand, Scholtes, which I believe is French. We also have a huge marble table which is perfect for pastry rolling. It's a lovely kitchen beyond my widest dreams and I'm thrilled with it. I also need to tell you that the garden has apples, raspberries, plums, redcurrants and pears and (although the latter look a bit small and sour). I'm delighted to pick fruit straight from the tree and we have had baked plums for our pudding this evening.

12:09 AM, August 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, what a great blog!! I have never tried monkfish and yours looks fab. Wonder if my hubby will cook it for me??? hmmmmm

2:05 PM, August 22, 2007  
Blogger Linda said...

how lovely. what a sweetheart of a man. and a damn good cook at that.

2:39 PM, August 25, 2007  

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