Saturday, March 24, 2012

How Thomas Keller would cook Swiss Chard and Squab


He is the embodiment of Perfection in Modern American Cooking
He is a notoriously driven perfectionist
He has the precision of a neurologist
He pushes creativity to the limits without compromising Class and integrity
His food invokes memories; playful and magical
He is regarded as the best chef in America by chefs
He is Thomas Keller
And the Mecca for all chefs in America is his restaurant - The French Laundry in Napa Valley

Lucky for us, he has published a few books. The first book is now on Sale on Amazon. So if we cannot afford $1000 for a 6 course dinner cooked by him personally, we could use his recipes and perhaps taste a whiff of what it might have been. If you love cooking, you must get a copy of his book - The French Laundry by Thomas Keller. 

Beurre Monte : The Workhorse Sauce
by Thomas Keller

A little bit of water helps the emulsion process. Whether you emulsify 4 tablespoons or 1 pound of butter, just a tablespoon of water will do. Any amount of beurre monte can be made using the following method.

Bring the water to boil in an appropriate size saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and begin whisking the chunks of butter into the water, but by but to emulsify. Once you have established the emulsion, you can continue to add pieces of butter until you have the quantity of beurre monte that you need. It is important to keep the level of heat gentle and consistent in order to maintain the emulsification. Make the beurre monte close to the time it will be used and keep it in a warm place. If you have extra berurre monte, it can be refrigerated and then reheated to use as melted butter or clarified.

How Thomas Keller would cook Swiss Chard

1 pound of Swiss Chard, washed dried on paper towels
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt

Preparation : Cut off the stalks, pull away and discard any strings and cut the stalks on the diagonal into 1/16 inch julienne. Cut the leaves into 2 - inch pieces. You will have approximately 6 to 7 cups of trimmed leaves and stalks.

Melt 2 teaspoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chard leaves and stems, sprinkle with salt ( it is important to salt the leaves before they wilt for even seasoning) , and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the leaves wilt and stems are tender. Drain on paper towels.

How Thomas Keller would cook Squab

Squab is difficult to cook in that you have to hit the temperature exactly right. It should be served medium rare. When its rare it is too tough and difficult to eat. When it starts to get over medium rare, the meat begins to take on a liver flavor.

Remove each breast half from the squab carcasses leaving the wings attached to the breasts. Cut them off the tips of the wings, leaving the large bottom wing bones attached to the breasts. With a paring knife, scrape the meat away from the wing bone to "french" it. Cover and refrigerate the breasts,. Use the legs and carcasses to make squab sauce.

Preparation : Heat 1/16 inch of canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Season the Squab breasts with salt and pepper and place skin side down in hot oil. Cook for about 3 minutes , or until the skin is rich brown. Turn the meat over and cook for an additional 2 minutes, basting the meat with the oil in the pan. Drain off the fat in the pan and add the buerre monte. Continue to cook and baste the squab for about 2 more minutes or until the meat is medium rare. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the squab to rest for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the chard leaves and the figs with the beurre monte in a saucepan and add a splash of water. Reheat over medium low heat. Just before serving, stir in the chard stems. Rewarm the Squab sauce.
To serve, slice the squab breasts crosswise on a slight diagonal. Spoon some squab sauce into the middle of the plate. Over lap Squab with Chard and sprinkle with chives.

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