Bouchon dinner

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on January 18, 2011

Last week Adam and I did the ambitious – we had guests for dinner on a week night.  I call this ambitious because weeknight dinners, with guests coming at 7:45-8pm, means we have 2 hours to prep and cook dinner and get the house in order.  Since our kitchen island is our dining table, getting the house in order includes cleaning up most of what we’ve cooked with.  Of course this wasn’t a challenge enough for us and we made it a little more ambitious.  Thanks to a recent holiday gift (thanks j&j!) we came up with a Thomas Keller Bouchon inspired dinner.

Our menu meant there was a lot of prep work and precooking done the night before.  We started with an onion soup – classic and a perfect remedy for the bite of the dc winter wind (see p 47).  With 6 pounds of onions, beef stock, butter, flour, sherry vinegar, and a spice bag, we were ready to go.  Oh, and I can’t forget the day old baguette and Emmantaler cheese for the topping.  Adam had made onion soup many times before but this time he followed Keller’s suggestion of caramelizing the onions for 4 hours.


4 hour onions

After tasting the soup with the onions done this way, I wouldn’t make it any other.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  We did end up reducing the amount of stock he added pretty significantly.  This was merely from a preference standpoint.  We both love lots of onions in our soup and just a little less broth.  The broth, of course, is utterly essential for sopping up the cheese encrusted crouton on top. The Emmantaler cheese was a departure from our regular Gruyere cheese.  However, with the extra cook time on the onions, the more mild Emmantaler is a perfect compliment to the star of the soup.

Our main course was a salad that was a bit of a riff on Keller’s roasted beet salad (p. 7).  As you know by now, I’m a sucker for beets.  For this one I got golden beets, roasted them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, in a tent of aluminum foil. I added juice from a blood orange to some olive oil, salt and pepper, and red wine vinegar to make a vinaigrette. The beets marinated over night in the dressing. They then went on top of arugula with some goat cheese, some sliced red onions, chives, and tarragon. As added color and tartness, I cut some sections of a blood orange to toss in the salad as well.

Along with this, we roasted a chicken. A favorite of ours, we are total converts to Keller’s Bouchon dry roast method (see Bouchon introduction or the video below).

By patting the chicken dry, seasoning (inside and out), and cooking for about 45-60 minutes depending on your bird size, at a high heat (450 degrees).  This makes the skin extra crispy.  The only basting we do is after it comes out and we transfer it to the resting board. We tossed in some thyme to the juices left in the pan and basted the bird.  Rest time is important so that the moisture from the chicken redistributes.  The skin stays crisp and golden and the inside is succulent.  We put just a bit of butter on the chicken and served it with some mustard.

With plenty of wine, some pre-made walnut moons, and just a little hot chocolate to cap the evening, the guests left warm with full bellies.  All in all, a wonderful weeknight dinner.


One Response

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  1. Sarah said, on January 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Yum! Sounds like a very lovely evening.

    I have tried Adam’s french onion soup when it hasn’t been caramelized for four hours, and it was amazing. The caramelizing sounds like a weekend-long project but totally worth it! Can’t wait to try it.

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