Three weeks ago we had my boss, one of Ben’s professors, and two of our friends from school over for dinner. I made everything out of Sunday Suppers at Lucques, though not all from one of the dinner menus. There are tons of photos here, and it was by far my most ambitious menu so far, so I’ll break this up a bit.
Chronologically, I started the brisket the night before and then braised it all day; baked the lemon tart shell in the morning and made the curd in the afternoon, made the lentils in the late afternoon and reheated them, cooked the raddichio while we ate our main course and while everything else reheated, and made the onion tart in the afternoon, then baked it when the guests arrived.
First course: Onion tart with Lardons
This is impressive and delicious but very simple. The shell is a frozen puff pastry sheet, scored around the edge so the crust will puff up.
On top of that is a layer of ricotta and creme fraiche, mixed with an egg yolk. That is topped with Comte cheese (or any gruyere, I guess), and finally a layer of lardons and red onions sauteed in the bacon fat. Hurrah!
It’s meant to be served with an herb salad but the Coop didn’t have enough nice looking herbs to eat them plain. I just served regular field greens.
Main Course: Braised beef brisket, served with lentils and roasted raddichio
As I said above, I started the brisket the night before–Goin recommends starting two nights before and braising it a day before, since you reheat the slices anyway. I will do this next time, but this time I just didn’t have the timing in order. It gets rubbed with crumbled chilis, garlic, salt, thyme leaves and cracked pepper, then rests over night in the fridge.
The recipe calls for a 6 pound brisket, since it’s great leftovers, and mine was closer to 6.5, in two pieces. That is a lot of meat, far more than I’ve ever cooked before. Goin is good about saying you’ll have to hang one side out while you sear the other, etc., and indeed I did have to. Then it went into the roasting pan while I cooked a ton of onions, carrots and celery, and cooked down balsamic vinegar, guinness and beef stock to make the braising liquid.
That got poured over the beef (I couldn’t quite cover it, since my pan was so big), and covered with foil–I ignored the plastic wrap instructions this time, having learned my lesson with the short ribs. Into the oven, for six hours. Once it was cooked, I pulled out the meat, chilled it so it could be sliced, strained the braising liquid, and when it was time to serve I reheated the sliced brisket in the liquid for a while. (Bad photo)
For sides I made lentils–cooked with onion, some chili flakes, etc. and roasted raddichio. I couldn’t find Raddichio Vecchio, the long narrow kind, and used the round heads. They are super super bitter, and I wasn’t a huge fan. The raw lentils and raw wedges of reddichio were pretty though:
To plate I made a long mound of lentils, put the slices of meat on top, the a few wedges of raddichio. All a big hit, but I want to try the raddichio again with the other type, or cook it longer, or maybe just do shaved brussels sprouts.
Dessert: Lemon tart with chocolate
(Entire recipe posted at link above)
I was a little dubious about mixing lemon and chocolate, but Goin hasn’t steered me wrong (flavor-wise) yet, so I went for it. I only had one meyer lemon, and made up the rest with regular lemons. I baked the shell blind in the morning, and then covered it with the melted chocolate and made the curd.
I had a little trouble telling when it was done–basically you whisk together eggs, egg yolk, sugar and lemon juice and cook it (stirring stirring stirring) until it thickens. I was jumpy about overdoing it, and instead underdid it a little–the tart set, but not as firmly as I’d have liked. The crust made a double recipe, though, so I froze the extra and made the tart again last week–much smoother this time, and I cooked it twice as long.
When the curd was cooked I took it off the heat, stirred in the butter and forgot the salt (oops), then strained the curd into the tart shell and let it set.
I learned a couple things at serving time:
1) My tart pan is not 10″, it’s 9. The shell was very thick, and there was a bit too much chocolate, so I really had to hack through it to slice!
2) When Ben is picking up more plates than he can carry, instead of mumbling “Please take two at a time,” I should remove the extras from his arm before he splats it onto the side of the fridge, the floor, and his pants. Hee. Particularly dramatic in this case because the curd was a little softer than normal.
The chocolate, by the way, is an amazing addition to the lemon curd. Somehow each balances the other–sweet/tart/acidic vs. bittersweet/creamy. It worked great.
Whew. I was in the kitchen from 9 a.m. until we ate, but it was worth it–everything came out great and I learned a lot about timing everything to get all the parts out at the right times. Whee!