With 3000 recipes, Delmonico's most famous chef, Charles Ranhofer’s Epicurean is an bottomless goldmine of 19th c classics. Think about it… if Julie of Julie & Julia fame had cooked The Epicurean instead of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, she would still be at it!! I thought I'd give you another one of his gems since I did have a Ranhofer extravaganza for New Years and I love to share!
Delmonico's Kitchen 1902
I know, you may be thinking that you need all of these guys in your kitchen to make Ranhofer's dishes but you don't! A few stocks and some simple-to-prepare white sauces and you're good to go.
Did you know that Ranhofer ran a locavore restaurant? Delmonicos had their own gardens in Brooklyn (yes, Brooklyn!) and championed the use of beautiful and diverse produce on their gargantuan menu. Lobster and oysters were still plentiful in NY in the 19th century. At one point lobster was so ubiquitous that it was fed to prisoners who would groan..."please no more lobster!!" Our pilgrim forefathers felt the same way. When they settled in the New World, there were vast numbers of these lumbering decapods that were impossibly easy to harvest from NY shores. They are not so plentiful these days but far more prized and, in Ranhofer's hands, ever so delectable. Remember, this was the man that perfected Lobster Newberg that was originally Lobster Wenberg after a sea captain who did the first version of the dish impromptu at the restaurant by ordering up a chafing dish and some ingredients. When he had a fight with Delmonico the name was forever changed to Lobster Newberg. Ranhofer polished the recipe to what we know today (recipe HERE).
Lobster a la Britannia
2 lobsters, 1 ½ to 2-pounds each
A hand full of parsley, thyme
1 Bay leaf
2 T White Wine Vinegar
2 c mushroom essence*
2 c velouté*
¼ c glace de viande (reduce 2c. chicken or beef stock slowly till syrupy—if bought stock, make sure there is no salt!!!!! You should have between ½ -1/4 cup)
½ c Madeira (Charleston Sercial)
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ t. cayenne
¼ t. nutmeg
½ Lb. mushroom tops, sautéed and sliced
½ Lb. small artichoke hearts, cooked and sliced
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 T chopped parsley
After making the mushroom essence and the veloute and having the glace de viande ready, boil the vegetables and herbs in a large pot of water for 20 minutes Cook the lobsters for 7-8 minutes in this liquid to cover (put in one at a time and allow to return to a boil before adding the next one or kill first). Cool lobsters. Remove meat from claws and tail (reserve rest and shells for a bisque later on) and keep warm in a little lobster water. Take the creamy parts from the bodies and rub them through a sieve. Take Mushroom reduction, and velouté and reduce slightly. Add the Glace de Viande and Madeira and spices. Add the egg yolks and sieved creamy lobster and stir in over very low heat till thickened.
Place the lobster meat on a plate, ½ of the tail (split length-wise) and 1 piece of claw meat.
Place the artichokes and mushrooms on the plate. Spoon sauce over all. Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 main course.
Follow this recipe for *mushroom essence, couldn’t be simpler!
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
4 T Butter
4 T Flour
2 Cup hot chicken stock
Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook for a few moments taking care not to scorch the flour. Add the stock gradually and cook till thickened for 20 minutes.
Next time, my post will be about Ambergris from the lovely Ambergris Co. NZ This is such an exciting product… hopefully you will be able to get yourself some in time to make an unforgettable Valentine’s delight!
1", 2 gram piece of Ambergris
At $10,000. a pound... this is truly a dusky gem of the ocean... but don't worry, you only need a few grains to make an amazing dish!