Pot au Feu
Many years ago , I ambitiously attempted Bollito Misto (Boiled Mixed) for a New years banquet in our house at West Preston Street in Edinburgh. I love what I had heard about the french new year where course after course of food is served throughout the evening. Food 'with' wine instead of just drinking alcohol which seemed to me to be the main idea of celebrating new year in Scotland! I can't remember much about the meal apart from getting help as I was out of my depth at the time (bless the younger me though for trying). I do remember everyone still drank buckets of wine and fell out. Ah memories! You can't change hundreds of years of tradition I suppose. The French version is called Pot au Feu (Boiled Beef) which I think is a little simpler in style though I have yet to trawl many different recipes to decide on the best recipe though I have a feeling it will be based mostly Julia Child's Potee Normande with a few bits of tinkering here and there. I am thinking about making this one of the main courses for the anniversary supper club rumoured to be on Friday the 30th of March. You can book now before everyone else if you like. It is made up mainly of Beef plus a variety of other meats such as pork, chicken, sausage (have seen a recipe with calf's head just ha ha, I will do that yet!) and vegetables carefully simmered for different lengths of times over a long period (5-7 hours) and served with the vegetables with various sauces. The French and Italian sauces are broadly similar but I may prefer the italian versions such as frutta di mostarda (fruit preserved in wine and mustard syrup) or an anchovy based paste to some of the French options as they just seem more gutsy, robust and complimentary to the meats. It's not an especially pretty dish to look with the crude cuts of vegetables and shed loads of meat but with the right cooking, it is going to taste amazing. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking , they say
"Here is the sumptious family-style boiled dinner which will serve 12 or more, and always makes a great hit with the guests. It is brought to the table in its pan looking for all the world like a plain pot-au-feu. The host starts the proceedings as usual by spearing out the beef and placing it on a dish. Then he finds a sausage, and after that a big piece of pork. Finally, to wild acclaim, he brings out a chicken".
This kind of serving food as a performance really appeals to me though I am not sure if I would be able to pull that off. I would like to try. We shall see. It depends on the number of guests. Any more than twelve... but I just love the idea behind this food as it is about more than just eating it. It is the whole ritual around cooking and eventually serving it that seems really meaningful to me.
More research to do which I may blog about if I get time and if I decide to do it. The other dish I am going to do is a Lobster Bisque. I will probably do it as an amuse bouche in expresso cups served with little croutons (I so love the 'everything in miniature' aspect to this delightful invention) because, to be frank , I can't afford to do anything else at £20 a head. This soup is ideal for this because of the intensity of flavour which is one key element to little mouthfuls of food. Bottom line, I really just want an excuse to put this Salvador Dali image into this blog because I love it.
Lobster Bisque Amuse Bouche