The Chef of the Century had a crowing Gallic Coq tattooed on his left arm, one he would often flaunt proudly. The rooster is the national bird of France. But could the tattoo also symbolize Paul Bocuse’s veneration for Poulet de Bresse?
Upon learning of the Chef’s passing on January 20th at 91 years-old, French President Emmanuel Macron lamented that his death had chefs everywhere weeping in their kitchens.
Mais oui. Here too.
My love affair with “Chicken and Morels Paul Bocuse” began decades ago in Chicago at a long-gone restaurant named Bistro 110 where fricassée of chicken was served on a bed of fresh sautéed spinach with a morel cream sauce.
The combination was brilliant. The creamy mushroom sauce infused the sautéed spinach and turned it into a French version of steakhouse-creamed-spinach. The synergy of earthy-nutty morels and impeccably cooked chicken resulted in a timeless dish. It was rich but not overly so, it was balanced in the style that the Chef was known for…classic yet modern.
In 2011 when Paul Bocuse was named “Chef of the Century” by the Culinary Institute of America, Jacques Pépin said, “Certainly he did more than any other chef in the world that I can think of to bring the chefs in the dining room and to make the profession respectable and to make us who we are now…Now the chefs are stars and it’s because of Paul Bocuse.”
For my birthday, I hosted a luncheon in honor of the Chef and served Chicken Fricassée inspired by him. Here is my recipe.
Chicken Chorizo Stew
Baby Spinach, Kale, and Chard
A golden roux with lots of vegetables and kidney beans is the backdrop for this southern-style Chicken Chorizo Stew. This gumbo-esque meal is hearty but not thick. Instead of okra and sassafras, it is chock full of baby greens – spinach, kale, and chard. It’s served with steamed brown rice on the side. A splash of vinegary Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce adds zippy notes and brightens the flavors.
Green Velvet Soup Spinach, Zucchini, Potato with Herbs & Spices Toasted Pine Nuts, Crema, Chili Oil Garnish
It’s a soup with a luxurious deep green color and velvety texture. Spinach, zucchini, and potatoes are the base for this satisfying and healthful potage. A zippy garnish makes it anything but boring.
Fresh cilantro and toasted dried spices give this green soup a wonderful depth of flavor. Dried cumin seed, coriander seed, and fennel seed are added at the beginning of the cooking process to unlock their intense flavors. Fresh cilantro is added at the end of the process to preserve its essence and verdant aromas.
Where the chili oil adds a fiery touch, the Mexican crema add a cool richness. Unlike a “cream” soup, there is less than a tablespoon of cream per serving. Pine nuts add texture and that toasty note, which is mirrored in the toasted spices.
Several months ago I came across a recipe for “Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce” in Saveur magazine. I’ve made it over and over with different fish and various vegetables. The preparation is simple and the flavor combination is stellar. My modified spinach version makes a fabulous vegan entree spooned on top of basmati rice – or a fragrant vegetable side dish to fish, meat, or chicken.
Spinach & Chickpeas in a Bengali Mustard Sauce Recipe
Roast Leg of Lamb Medallion, Curry Quinoa Crust Over Steamed Spinach
Curried Heirloom Tomato Salsa with Mint
Avocado & Serrano Chile with Lime
So here’s the challenge: Cook a leg of lamb as the main-course to serve at a dinner party for 8 people using no more than 10 ingredients (excluding salt & pepper) with a prep time of under 30 minutes (not including cooking times). It must be healthy, lean, and nutrient-rich – using only “good fats” and “good grains.” The folks at Tri-Lamb are sponsoring this “Lean on Lamb” challenge for cooks in Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington DC with a focus on healthy ORIGINAL recipes for entertaining.
So, as is Taste With The Eyes style, I was looking for harmonious colors, various textures, and memorable flavors to create a vibrant lamb entrée for my guests. All ingredients had to be commonly available, so while the dish is not exotic per se, it is alluring and appealing on a hot summer evening. Heirloom tomatoes add a seasonal element, while the curry adds a bright sunny quality, spicy serrano gives it just enough kick while fresh lime juice (from my tree) brings the tart acidity balance…
You’ve heard the expression “like a kid in a candy store?” Well that kid was me this past weekend at the Farmers’ Market in Palos Verdes. If it looked tasty, I bought it. No restraint whatsoever. From Japanese eggplant to okra to heirloom tomatoes. And asatsuki, carrots, red serranos, beets, patty pan squash, spinach, garlic, Anaheim chiles, Thai basil, mitsuba…I had no plan, no recipe in mind. I was simply vegetable-crazy.
8-layer farmers’ market fantasy
curried fresh carrot juice sauce with blanched okra & mitsuba
grilled green & yellow patty pan squash
sautéed spinach with sesame, garlic, soy sauce
crispy polenta cake
fire-roasted anaheim chile
fresh goat cheese & asatsuki
cumin dusted grilled beet
spicy smoky heirloom tomato & thai basil
roasted japanese eggplant, maldon smoked sea salt flakes