Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TFL #5 "Yabba-Dabba-Do" Rib Steak with Golden Chanterelles and Bordelaise Sauce, Pommes Anna

I decided to number the French Laundry entries to keep track of how few I have actually done. LOL.  In reviewing this one, Golden Chanterelles were clearly going to be the sourcing issue so I asked my friend Nerubius (an honest to goodness chef) what an acceptable substitute would be and he said Oyster Mushrooms. BUT he said, sweat them in the oven first because they are so wet if you don't dry them out "they'll piss all over your dish"!  I am very fortunate to have several chefs in my online gaming community all knowledgeable and advising in language I can understand. I am going to write this is the order I accomplished it (more or less) because some of it can be, and some must be,  done ahead.

The Meat: Part 1
A double cut rib steak (bone-in with the bone frenched) 2-2.5 lbs.  I think WSH went a little larger, what do you think? You season it with salt and pepper the day before you plan to cook it, keeping it refrigerated until at least an hour prior to cooking to allow it to come to room temperature before searing then roasting.

The Bordelaise sauce:

Cast of characters: Cabernet Sauvignon, Veal stock, sliced carrots, sliced shallots, sliced garlic, sliced mushrooms, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, a bay leaf and six -- count them with me - six black peppercorns. Cook everything but the veal stock and peppercorns until the wine has mostly evaporated, add veal stock and peppercorns and then simmer until it's a sauce consistency.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer and set aside in a small sauce pan.

The Pommes-Anna:

Ingredients: (cue the laugh track please) Yukon Golds, clarified butter, minced shallots, grey salt, chicken stock and... prunes.  Yes, you heard me. PRUNES. I could rename them dried plums, but I happen to like prunes. Molly Wizenberg  Orangette says that they are the only food that comes with a built in laugh track. I find them to be very complex and sophisticated, sort of sweet sort of wine-ish. Anyway, I struggled with this seemingly odd couple. Potatoes and Prunes!! Prunes and Potatoes??   But that's what this blog adventure is all about. Broadening horizons and trying new things. SO off we go!

Simmer the prunes in chicken stock until they are soft and plump, then chop them up and add grey salt and minced shallots to taste. Would you like some glare with that prune pot? Final product looks yummy,eh?

Peel and slice the Yukon golds to 1/16th of an inch and place them in water to remove the starch. Once ready, put some clarified butter in a nonstick ovenproof pan and dry your potatoes...or at least get some of the moisture out.  Here's is pic of our potatoes drying.

Can you see that the top half is perfectly uniform and symmetrical? The bottom half is much more randomly placed, but was much faster. Can you guess who did which half? I know CR and Liz can. WSH (a little OCD) has a penchant for symmetry and order. I am quite sure he would have a much longer career as a prep cook at the French Laundry than I would. Not that I am completely haphazard,  I do mise en place and I keep things cleaned up, but seriously, I don't line up sliced potatoes. LOVE YOU JIM!  Anyhoo, you line the pan (symmetrically of course) with overlapping shingles of potatoes, salt and pepper, then another layer of potatoes. Then comes the tricky part: you "spread the prune mixture carefully and evenly over the potatoes taking care not to disturb the potato layer" Hmm. Do you know how sticky prunes are? And how slippery potatoes are? I have no photos of this process because my fingers were covered in prunes and I was cursing all the way. 2 more layers of potatoes, 1 more layer of prunes and 2 more layers of potatoes with seasoning in between.  Mercifully WSH took his OCD self upstairs during this process. I was a Neanderthal at the careful spreading but with enough butter and potatoes how could it be bad? Final prep step is to pour 1/4 c clarified butter over and then sizzle it on the stove top.

 After 3-4 min pop it in the oven until browned and done. This can be done ahead. and reheated in the oven and inverted on to the serving platter when ready.

The Salad:

Though not part of TFL I love this salad. Made up of Baby Spinach, toasted almonds, pear pieces... (if I was motivated I would have made pear pearls with a #12 melon baller), gorgonzola crumbles and a dressing comprised of Olive Oil, Balsamic (plus I add a little white wine vinegar) Maple Syrup and salt and pepper, its so easy and so good.  Originally shared with me as 1 T of each of the liquids, play around with it and see what you like. Try not to burn your almonds while you are taking pictures for your blog.

I wish I knew how a food stylist does what they do.  Obviously, I do not. Nor do I know much about  photography. But it's all an experiment and a learning experience.

Meat Part 2
Pat the meat dry before searing and then sear for about 5 minutes each side. When that's done put it in the oven with a meat thermamator. My desired doneness is medium, Jim's is medium rare/rare. We took it out at 120 degrees knowing there would be a slice for everyone. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before cutting.

I sauteed the piss-free Oyster mushrooms until tinged with brown around the edges, we cut the beef and plated with the bordelaise and mushrooms. Damn I wish I could take better pictures. This looks like something from Golden Corral but was actually much prettier and more appetizing.

The final single plating looked like this:

The beef and mushrooms were great! We always like the salad so that doesn't count. The Pommes Anna just weren't for us. The prunes lost their unique complexity in the cooking. I am sure this is a classic french dish so I will not question it and the most likely thing is that I screwed up the execution. Still, I'd say either a straight up scalloped potatoes or a layered dish with maybe a cranberry chutney to bring some sweet-tartness might be better.

Whew! I'm tired.

See you soon!


  1. damn that meat and potatoes looks awesome.

  2. thank you! It was really good. I have since learned that classic pommes anna is just potatoes, salt and pepper cooked in a lot of butter. No prunes necessary!