Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Epicurean's Chickens a la Nantaise Sauted

Charles Ranhofer, Celebrity Chef of the 19th Century

Charles Ranhofer was one of America’s first Celebrity chefs and reigned at the end of the 19th century at Delmonicos restaurant in NYC. Although he died in 1896, his amazing 3000 recipe cookbook, The Epicurean, a Complete Treatise of Analytical and Practical Studies on the Culinary Art, Including Table and Wine Service , has kept his reputation alive.

"Ranhofer was sent to Paris at the age of 12 to begin his training by studying pastry-making, and at 16 became the private chef for the prince d'Hénin, Comte d'Alsace. In 1856 he moved to New York to become the chef for the Russian consul, and later worked in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans. He returned to France in 1860 for a short time, where he arranged balls for the court of Napoleon III at the Tuileries Palace, but then came back to New York to work at what was then a fashionable location, Maison Doree. In 1862, Lorenzo Delmonico hired him for Delmonico's, and it was there that Ranhofer made his real fame, though others say that he made the fame of the restaurant as well. At that time, Delmonico's was considered the finest restaurant in the United States. He was the chef at Delmonico's until his retirement in 1896, except for a short hiatus from 1876 and 1879 when he owned the "Hotel American" at Enghien-les-Bains," said Wikipedia.

Ranhofer invented or made famous a number of dishes that Delmonico's was known for, such as Lobster Newburg & Baked Alaska and had a talent for naming dishes after famous or prominent people--particularly those who dined at Delmonico's--as well as his friends, and events of the day.

One of the dishes from Ranhof’s cookbook, Chickens a la Nantaise Sauted is a real winner (Nantaise meaning in the style of Nantes, a city in Brittany). Although the measurements are a little sketchy, it was fairly easy to navigate with a little extra work. The results were fabulous. The chicken has that rich old-fashioned taste… and those croquettes are a brilliant idea!!!

Chickens a la Nantaise

2 boneless chicken breasts (the original recipe called for pieces)

2 T butter

½ c Mushroom broth*

½ c Madeira Wine (Charleston Sercial)

1 ½ c béchamel sauce*

½ c cream

3 small artichoke hearts

2 thin slices ham

1 egg, beaten

1 c breadcrumbs

6 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp chopped herbs

Chop the artichoke hearts and ham into small dice. Season with salt and pepper and moisten with ½ c béchamel. Make into tablespoon size croquettes and freeze for 20 minutes as they will be very sloppy.

Take them out and roll them into the egg, then the breadcrumbs and refrigerate till ready to use.

Get oil heated to 350º to deep-fry the croquettes.

Fry the chicken breasts in 1T butter till gently browned and nearly done and remove. Deglaze the pan with the mushroom broth and Madeira and reduce while scraping off the brown bits in the pan. Add the béchamel and the cream. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer the chicken gently till cooked through.

Sauté the shrimps in butter, add lemon and herbs. Keep warm and set aside.

Fry the croquettes in the oil till brown.

Place the croquettes and shrimp decoratively on the plate with the breast. Spoon the sauce over all. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Serves 2, generously

Mushroom Essence

Put one pound of mushrooms cut into quarters in a saucepan with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt and a pint of stock. Cook for 10 minutes, covered. Cool and strain. Use the delicious mushrooms for another dish.


5 T butter

5 T flour

3 cups hot milk

¼ c chopped onion

sprig of parsley

sprig of thyme

mushroom stems

Few Gratings of Nutmeg

Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook for a few minutes, taking care not to scorch it.

Add the hot milk gradually, whisking all the while. Let it thicken slowly with the herbs and onion and mushrooms, stirring it frequently. Strain it before using.

Delmonico's Menu from 1899, check out the prices!!!:

***Many of the facts about Ranhofer were taken from the nice folks at Wikipedia!

Chicken Breast on Foodista


Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen said...

I love it! It's beautiful in all its creaminess. It reminds me a little of the recipes in Escoffier's cookbook, which I used to have before loaning it out.

Sarah said...

This is beautiful, as usual. I love all the research you do. Check my blog for a surprise.

Deana Sidney said...

Jenny>I do that all the time... I lost Brillat Savarin that way...oh well! Thanks... it is creamy good and those croquettes are awesome!
Sarah> What can I say but thanks for the award... now if I can just figure out how to stick it in the blog!!!!

s said...

Im so glad i found ur blog...its just wonderful!!!Will be back for more..

Unknown said...

What a wonderfull recipe, I am hungry just now reading it !
My husband brought from New York, a book, New York City food by Arthur Schwartz's, they speak of Charles Ranhofer and his lobster Newberg, Delmonico potatoes and steak,
Thank you for this post, I like it so much

Deana Sidney said...

Thank you for your kind remarks 's' please come back!

Chapot, you should get the cookbook... it is really amazing and full of ideas!

Anonymous said...

What a great chicken recipe. I am going to try it soon :)

Faith said...

What a fabulous career he had, I never knew all that! I'll be on the lookout for his cookbook! This dish looks phenomenal!

Deana Sidney said...

Faith> click on the book title and get it on Amazon!!! You will like the dish... and with 3000 more things to choose from you won't be disappointed!

Kate at Serendipity said...

Where do you find all this out? I always learn something here!

Deana Sidney said...

Kate> I am so glad! I love getting to the bottom of things... sherlock chef!

Barbara said...

What a fascinating career Ranhofer had! I love your posts!
And the croquettes. How clever...artichokes and ham. Yummy. Can't wait to try those!

Deana Sidney said...

Barbara> They are a breeze to make... if a little sloppy to make!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That dish looks absolutely wonderful! Thankyou so much for the history of it too! I had no idea he wa sthe chef behind Lobster Newberg or Baked Alaska! :O

Alisa said...

I love your blog!Great research and recipes!I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide our readers to your site if you won't mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it's all set, Thanks!

Deana Sidney said...

Lorraine> Thanks, it is good... Ranhofer was a remarkably productive fellow! You should try his Potatoes Sarah, after Sarah Bernhardt!
Alisa> Thanks so much for the invite... I have joined up!

Anonymous said...

What a fascinating post! Thanks for sharing. Just found your's great! :)

Deana Sidney said...

Spicyandsweet> thanks for visiting.. come often!!!!

Anonymous said...

WOW, look at those prices! I feel better about my 25dollar a kg cherries now. haha. :)

Judy said...

What a wonderful recipe! I love everything in it, must try this soon.

The Chickenless Chick said...

All these flavors work together so perfectly. Thanks very much for the info and the recipe!

Deana Sidney said...

Vicky> The prices are hilarious...but remember people were making 2 grand a year! Imagine... $1.50 x 40... pretty much today's prices at a posh joint!
Judy> Glad you like it... there will be more from this great book!

Deana Sidney said...

chickenless chick> Thanks for joining my little group... I hope you will enjoy my posts...I do try to entertain!

Mari @ Once Upon a Plate said...

It is always such a treat to visit your blog, there is always a nice surprise awaiting.

The history of food has fascinated me for quite some time now and I particularly love reading old menus.

This dish looks superb, Chef Ranhofer would be proud!

Megan @ FeastingonArt said...

Wow! Celebrity chefs in the 19th century have pretty great mustaches!

shaz said...

Hi there, so glad I found your blog. Loved reading about Chef Ranhofer, and that sauce on the chicken looks amazing.

Deana Sidney said...

Mari>Thanks, I hope Ranhofer is happy to have me digging in his bones!
Megan> I know, those chefs look so furry with all that facial hair!
Shaz> Glad you stopped by... the sauce really is amazing...honestly, I tasted a little too much of it!

vibi said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog while I was away, I appreciate it very much! Even more, now that it gave me a chance to discover your beautiufl blog... what a name, what a concept! I'm also a very nostalgic person.

A very happy new year to you and your family, health, joy and happiness, and... oh! many more years to your blog!

La Table De Nana said...

This looks wonderful..Justs aw it at All Fingers In The Pie~

Deana Sidney said...

Vibi> it is so great to have so many countries visiting on blogs... let's visit often!
La table de Nana> Sarah did a great job with the recipe... cut out all the extra bits... I love it when people take something and make it their own... I had wanted to check out the old style though!!