A dinner largely from the Le Gavroche Cookbook

Mille-feuille of mussels and baby spinach roasted pork belly with charcutiere sauce rhubarb ice cream with ginger peach compote


I love this book. Le Gavroche is the London restaurant started by the Roux brothers and now run by Michel Roux Jr. After a couple of months staring googly eyed at it, I thought it would be a good candidate for a straight up no messing about recipe following. It’s good to experiment but it’s also good to find out how things are meant to turn out.

Saturday dinner for my sister, who’s batching with her husband away in Quebec, and my neighbourhood doctor, who keeps me supplied with anti-reflux pills and Papua New Guinean savoury biscuits. Seafood and meat. Albany mussels were looking great, I’m always happy to have pork belly, and I was keen to try a new ice-cream. So,

Mille-feuille of mussels and baby spinach


Mille-feuille of mussels and baby spinach

A good way to fancy up mussels. A step up from the shells and the finger bowls – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s a shame to see a food typecast as casual.
Cooked in white wine, cooking liquid gets added to a finely chopped onion sauteed in butter with two teaspoons of marsala curry powder and bouquet garni herbs. Reduced by a third. Double cream is then added and then reduced to a “light sauce”. It’s always very important to taste. For some reason the sauce was very salty so I added a little more cream to adjust.
The spinach gets washed carefully and dried – I cut out all the stems. Softened in olive oil and seasoned.
The Mille-feuille is an easy way of stacking. Stab a sheet of puff pastry all over with a fork and then cook until golden in a hot oven. The stabbing will stop the sheets puffing up. You then just cut them up into equal rectangles.
No picture in the book so I made the stack with two layers of mussels and spinach and then made a ring around the stack with the extra mussels and poured source on the layers, on top of the stack and then over the mussels.

roasted pork belly with charcutiere sauce


Roasted Pork Belly with Charcutière sauce

It’s actually for a rack of pork but I didn’t read the recipe carefully before I headed off to the butchers. Ah well.
The pork is roasted with potatoes, whole garlic cloves, thyme, and bay leaves. I used kipfler potatoes and cut them into bevelled rounds for practice. The pork belly is scored, rubbed down with butter, and jusy before it’s put in the oven, given a rub with sea salt. Leaving it to the last minute will stop the salt drawing out the moisture and then not crackling properly. At least this is what I was led to believe, the book recommends leaving the salt on for 90 minutes and brushing excess salt off. Another thing realised after the deed.
The cooking sequence is interesting, 30 minutes at 190C; 15 minutes at 150C; and then rested for 45 minutes.
The pan is deglazed with white wine and a little vinegar and then cooked with veal stock, shallots, and cracked pepper. Reduce by two thirds and then finish with whisked in butter and mustard and diced peeled and deseeded tomatoes.
Again no picture in the book so I placed the pork belly in the middle and had the potato and garlic kind of loitering around it.
Instead of the traditional cornichon, I fried up some scallops in the roasting fat and placed one on top of each serve of pork belly.

Rhubarb Ice-cream with Ginger Peach Compote

This has nothing to do with the cookbook but just a thought that since ice-cream is just frozen custard, and rhubarb and custard is a a classic combo, then rhubarb ice-cream would be good. It turned out there was a recipe for Rhubarb Parfait with Ginger Apricots.
The ice-cream was the standard recipe for vanilla ice-cream and the rhubarb was a compote. To make a compote, you chop up 5 stick of rhubarb (the leaves are poisonous so, no) and then add it to a fully dissolved cup of water, half a cup of sugar, and the juice and zest of one lemon. Bring to the boil and allow to cool, covered. Add as much to the ice-cream maker to get the ice cream as rhubarby as you think you’d like it.

Ginger apricots, became peeled and finely diced peaches, enough white wine to cover, sugar to taste and because I didn’t have any preserved ginger, four slices of peeled fresh ginger. I left it to simmer in the mix until there was the right amount of ginger tatse.

Nothing fancy. Ice-cream in the middle, and the excess rhubarb compote and ginger peaches around.

Meal

Mussels were great, although the appeance of the mille-fieulle reminded me a little of when I’d have smoked oysters on crackers as a kid. No bad thing. Toni liked the stack and the spinach with it. The curry was very mild.

The pork was typically tasty and crackled up nicely. The garlic mellowed and the potatoes were crisp. The sauce looked a little thin, actually near translucent. I should have reduced it by the recommended two thirds, but the taste was robust enough as I’d already reduced the stock I used.

Dessert was great. Nice matching with the ginger apricots. Adulty.

Could I live with a car like this?

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12 comments

  1. Matthew’s avatar

    Fantastic cars – so good that the french President still uses his for state occasions (apparently not bomb proofable enough for everyday use).

    Will this indicate an increase in grenouille and escargot recipes ?

  2. MM’s avatar

    What a feast! I’m terribly envious and hungry now.

  3. Anthony’s avatar

    Matthew
    Ah now the dream recedes further with the added expense of a motorcycle escort everywhere I go.

    MM
    You could do the skoked oysters on crackers in about a minute.

  4. Kate’s avatar

    You could live with a car like that but only if you promised to take all your friends for Sunday drives.

    Dinner looks fabbo too. But then, do we expect anything less? :P (Foodfailuresblog… now there’s an idea.)

  5. Anthony’s avatar

    Friends would all have to wear white turtlenecks.

    Dinner was nice, dessert looked a bit of a mess but I’d gone beyond all caring by then. Fabbo is an excellent target to strive for, I’d be disappointed otherwise.

    As long as they were heroic failures. Ox tail trifle, chicken masala moulded into the shape of gough whitlam etc.

  6. Santos’s avatar

    you could live with it, sure, but underneath that bombastic blondeness is a demanding, gassy mistress who needs more attention than she deserves from you, and gets more attention from shady types than you’ll ever know. you’ll be heartbroken in the end.

  7. Anthony’s avatar

    All I have to do is abandon my faithful Swedish companion of five years and we’ve got the makings of a perfectly good French farce/comedy/tragedy there Santos.

  8. Kate’s avatar

    What a coincidence! I have a white turtleneck in the cupboard just waiting for an outing on a crisp autumnal Sunday. I can also wear large sunglasses and a headscarf if required.

    (Though Santos has a point. http://www.fuelwatch.wa.gov.au/ )

  9. Anthony’s avatar

    Mandatory! Hold a moment, I’ve got Paco Rabanne on the phone.

    (I believe it can be converted to run on Campari)

  10. Gracianne’s avatar

    French cars never run on Campari, but they might run on Pastis.
    Your meal sounds really tasty. I cooked a pork rack once, it was really tasty, the meat was tender and crispy and the sauce came out well. It was a Robuchon recipe, I can send it to you if you like.

  11. J’s avatar

    hi anthony, everything looks spectacular! i am also feeling rather guilty right now; i’ve owned the le gavroche number for some time now and have never used a single recipe…incidentally, have you seen michel roux’s newish title by quadrille, “eggs”? it is nothing short of amazing (i just spent all of last night post-itting everything i want to try)

  12. Anthony’s avatar

    Gracianne.
    My apologies, you’re correct. I forgot he Citroen engineers modified the Maserati engine’s jets and valve timing to run on pastis.
    Yes please for the recipe.

    J
    Ta! I feel a bit guilty when I have uncooked from cookbooks. It’s a great book just for nicking ideas from though. I haven’t seen the eggs one yet but it’s great to focus on one thing. I remeber being very impressed by Antonio Carlucio’s book on mushrooms.

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