Archive for June 21, 2011

Vicious Saws Les Halles for Father’s Day

June 21, 2011 1 comment
Vichyssoise Les Halles

Vichyssoise Les Halles

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I’ve never had much reason to celebrate Father’s Day in the past. Without getting bogged down in therapeutic self-revelation, let’s just say my actual father is a shitbird who was far better gone than present, and the nearest analogue I had (my grandfather) was really careful to remind me in many ways that he was not my father and I shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking of him that way. So what a strange feeling it was to have a father-figure (my now father-in-law) who is not only worthy of respect and admiration, but also almost universally well-liked. This is the kind of guy you really don’t mind going an extra mile for on Father’s  Day. Or, for fuck’s sake, any day, but certainly this one in particular.

So what do you make for Father’s  Day, chef? Sorry, but the fussier French dishes in Les Halles Cookbook don’t really cut it. I wanted the kind of food that guys typically crave, but infrequently get unless they make it for themselves. Knowing also that my father-in-law has a perhaps strange obsession with coleslaw and corn-on-the-cob, I found more recipes in Ad Hoc At Home than in your book. But I didn’t want to bail on the project entirely, especially since I’m falling a little behind my goal of getting the whole thing done in a year.

So I settled on vichyssoise as a starter. It’s been quite warm lately, so a cold soup seems like a good idea. I decided to smoke some beef ribs (beef being his particular but not-oft-indulged favorite) and make coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob with lime salt and butter emulsion, and asparagus with poached eggs and smoked garlic-sausage. I spent the day before rubbing the ribs and letting them marinate, making the vichyssoise, and for the first time making my own sausage.

Nathan from helped me with the sausage-making as well as the beer-drinking. He wouldn’t have any of the pork sausage, but we also made chicken and apple sausage, and since he’s murdered and dressed a chicken, that he could have. You know that expression “you don’t want to see the sausage being made”? Well, it’s not quite true. Really, you don’t want to see the cleanup. It’s fucking gruesome. There were literally gobbets of raw ground meat hanging from the wall, the cabinets, the counters…yikes, man.

Anyway, after the effort of making and packing the sausage (not a euphemism) knocking out the vichyssoise was no big deal. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m already planning my next batch of sausage, because it was really, really good. Good and fresh and lively in the way that lets you know what you’ve been missing with store-bought stuff. Next up, I think? Duck, plum and ginger sausages. (I’m not working off of recipes, I’m just improvising. It’s sausage, you can do that.)

So I chopped and sweated the leeks, then added the potatoes. Simmer in chicken stock – and then carefully – CAREFULLY – pureed, and combined with cream and seasoning. I brought it to a simmer without letting the cream burn. Then it just goes into an ice-bath and put in the fridge overnight when it’s thoroughly cool. In the middle of all the smoking, cabbage-chopping, corn boiling and so forth – it was a relief to be able to just portion the vichysoisse into mini-cocottes and serve when everyone arrived.

One mistake I made though, when seasoning I misjudged how much salt was in my salt cellar and just dumped it in. That horrible “Oh shiiiiiii…..” moment didn’t stop my other hand from stirring, thus keeping me from actually sifting the salt out. The result, it was a bit too salty. But that’s my fault, definitely not the recipe.

Dinner was a hit, I think – and the low-fuss starter course is part of what let me get it all out together. I’ll keep this in mind for future events, or just if I end up with a crap-ton of leeks for some reason.

I hope you had a great Father’s Day too, chef – though if your daughter isn’t making you man-feasts yet, clearly it’s your fault for failing to properly motivate her.

Happy Father’s Day;


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