Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moules Poulette

Mussels in poulette sauce!
     Classic French cuisine can be a little bit demanding.  The main thing to keep in mind when making a classic French sauce is accuracy and authenticity.
     As a saucier, I simply do not take short cuts.  Most of my cooking knowledge is what I have learned through French and Italian apprenticeship.  When researching a French recipe, I rely on the two most famous French cook books.  Escoffier and Gastronomique.  Escoffier and Larousse set the standards and defined French recipes over 100 years ago.  The information provided by Escoffier and Larousse is  priceless.
     Moules poulette is an old classic French recipe.  Poulette sauce is made with a modified allemande sauce.  Allemande sauce is secondary sauce made from veloute.  Veloute sauce is a rich reduced thickened white veal, chicken or fish stock.  Now that the sauce is explained, this recipe is not quite so scary!
     Veloute is a French mother sauce that hundreds of secondary sauces are made from.  The five French mother sauces are hollandaise, espagnole, tomato sauce, veloute and bechamel sauce.
     Poulette sauce requires very little cream.  Many internet recipes and second rate can opener style recipes make it sound like a poulette sauce is a mushroom cream sauce.  Just forget about it!  The allemande sauce is where the small splash of cream is added.  There really is not enough cream in the allemande sauce to call it a cream sauce.  Allemande is an egg yolk cream liaison finished modified veloute sauce.  Allemande is part of sauce poulette, but there is much more.
     Many of my casual recipes are toned down for home cooks who just want a good meal that has a great new flavor to try.  Many traditional international cuisine recipes that I write are selected because they are unique and they have a moderate difficulty level.  These recipes are good for people who want to learn a new cuisine.  Many of my classic traditional fine dining recipes are a bit more challenging.
     This moules poulette recipe is by the book.  This is a French classic traditional recipe.  This moules poulette recipe is correct except for one missing item.  That item is a French timbale for the presentation.  A timbale is a metal cooking vessel that is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.  This recipe is usually served in a fancy serving timbale.  All that I currently have in my kitchen is a few metal serving platters.  My classic moules poulette recipe presentation would probably be rated with 1 Michelin star or less at a restaurant, because it was not served in a French timbale!  That is how exacting fine French cooking really is.  A chef plays by the traditional rules when preparing classic French cuisine or the chef loses Michelin stars.
     Many chefs have chosen to go with modern creative cuisine, because it is less demanding than classic French cuisine.  That is too bad, because a high percentage of the old established big money clientele still prefers classic French cuisine.  Teeny portions of artistically presented asian food, that is sold as modern French food, does not provide the level of comfort that classic cuisine provides.

     The stocks, veloute and mushroom liquor can all be cooking at the same time or made one at a time, just as long as they are made ahead of time!  
     White Fish Stock (Fumet) Oven Method:
     This method of making whitefish veloute is much older than the Escoffier fumet method of gently simmering whitefish scraps and aromatics for 45 minutes.  The whitefish stock roasting method produces the richest tasting whitefish sauce.  The stock becomes very rich, because of the increased rate of evaporation.  Adding water as it roasts is necessary.  
     Place 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of whitefish carcass pieces and whitefish meat scraps in a deep high sided roasting pan or a braising pot.
     Add 1 chopped peeled onion.
     Add 3 ribs of chopped celery.
     Fill the deep roasting pan with enough water to cover the fish.  A yield of 1 gallon to 1 1/2 gallons of light fish stock (fumet) will be needed.
     Roast uncovered in a 350ยบ oven till, all of the flavor of the fish becomes infused with the liquid.
     You may have to add water occasionally to keep the fish covered with liquid.  Do not let the fish brown!
     This stock takes almost 2 hours to bake and this include the time it takes to heat the ingredients.
     When the stock gains a rich whitefish flavor, then it is ready.
     Strain the fish stock through a fine mesh strainer into a stockpot.
     Skim any impurities or grease off of the top of the fish stock.
     There should be 1 to 1/2 gallons of clean clarified fish stock in the pot.
     The rich fumet can be refrigerated for 7 days or frozen in portions
     Whitefish Veloute:
     Place 4 cups of whitefish stock (fumet) in a saucepot.
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Note:  In the next step, a sachet is a cheese cloth bag that is tied in a knot!
     Add 1 bouquet garni sachet of:
     - 1 bay leaf
     - 1/4 cup of chopped leek
     - 1 sprig of thyme
     - 1 sprig of marjoram or oregano
     - 6 parsley stalks
     - 2 crushed garlic cloves.
     - 1 chopped shallot
     - 12 black peppercorns
     Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped mushrooms and mushroom peelings.
     Bring the stock to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the stock, till about 2 cups remain.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Stir the roux, till it emits a light hazelnut aroma and it become a light golden blond color.
     Add enough of the blonde roux to the stock, while stirring with a whisk, to thicken the stock to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till the sauce becomes a rich thin sauce consistency.  There should be about 1 to 1/2 cups of sauce.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 1/2 pats of unsalted butter while stirring.
     Pour the whitefish veloute through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Stir the veloute occasionally as it cools.
     Now you have a basic very rich tasting white fish veloute!
     White Stock:
     Place 1 pound of veal, beef and chicken bones and meat scraps in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped celery.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion. that is studded with 2 cloves.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped leek.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped parsnip.
     Add 1 chopped shallot.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 2" of extra water.  A yield of 1/2 gallon is needed.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer for 2 hours.
     Skim any impurities and grease off of the stock as it simmers.
     Pour the white stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Skim off any grease or impurities.
     Simmer and reduce the stock, till 1 quart remains.
     Whisk 3 egg whites with 1 ounce of water.
     Slowly stream the egg white into the stock while gently stirring the stock from the bottom up.
     Simmer for 1 minute.
     Pour the white stock through a fine mesh strainer into a container and set it aside.
     The white stock can be refrigerated for 7 days or frozen in portions.

     Mushroom Liquor: 
     Place 1/2 cup of mushroom trimmings and scraps in a small sauce pot.
     Add 2 cups of water. 
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat. 
     Simmer and reduce till, 1 cup remains and the liquid becomes thoroughly infused with mushroom flavor.
     Strain the mushroom liquor through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Set the mushroom liquor aside. 
     Mussels Mariner:
     De-beard and scrub the shells of 18 to 24 mussels.
     Heat 4 cups of water.
     Add 1 crushed garlic clove.
     Add a bouquet garni sachet of:
     - 1/4 cup of leek
     - 2 pinches of thyme
     - 1 teaspoon of minced shallot
     - 8 black peppercorns
     - 4 parsley stalks
     - 1/2 bay leaf
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Bring the court bouillon to a boil over medium high heat.
     Add the mussels.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     As soon as the mussels open, use a fryer net remove them from the hot broth and set them aside.
     Rapidly reduce the mussel broth, till 1 1/2 cups remains.
     Pour the mussel broth through a fine mesh strainer into a container and set it aside.
     Remove one shell half from each mussel and discard the empty half shells.  Each mussel should be attached to the remaining half shell.
     Set the mussels aside.

       Note:  The key to this poulette sauce and the allemande sauce is to not heat the sauce to a temperature over 140 degrees after the butter pats and egg yolk liaison are added or the sauce will break!  The sauce will curdle the egg yolks if the sauce is heated over 140 degrees.  With that in mind, this sauce should turn out perfect on a first attempt.
     Allemande Sauce:
     This is the starting point for making the poulette sauce and for finishing this recipe.  The method of finishing the veloute with liaison is how the allemande sauce gets it's creamy color.
     Place 1 1/2 cups of the veloute sauce into a deep saute pan or sauteuse pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 cup of the white stock consomme.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 ounce of the mushroom liquor.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency.
     The allemande sauce should be reduced to about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups at this point.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Mix 2 egg yolks with 1 ounce of cream.
     Add the egg yolk liaison, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Remove the sauce from the heat as soon as the egg yolks start to tighten the sauce.
     Continue to whisk till the allemande sauce as it cools down.
     Now the allemande will look like a cream sauce, but it really is not a cream sauce!  The egg yolks have more to do with the creamy color of this sauce than the tiny splash of cream does.
     Keep the allemande sauce over very low heat and immediately start the poulette sauce!

     Sauce Poulette:
     Raise the temperature of the 1 1/2 cups to 1 3/4 cups of allemande sauce in the sauteuse pan to low heat.
     Stir the sauce occasionally!
     Add 3 tablespoons of of the mushroom liquor.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoon of minced Italian parsley.
     When the sauce begins to gently simmer, remove the sauce from the heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter pats while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Now you have a poulette sauce!
     Immediately start making the Moules Poulette!
     Moules Poulette:
     The poulette sauce in the saute pan should be over low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of the reduced mussel broth.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     When the poulette sauce starts to gently simmer, add the reserved poached mussels on the half shell.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, with the mussels in the sauce, till the mussels become hot and the sauce reduces to a thin consistency.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the mussels and poulette sauce in a serving timbale or arrange the mussels on a serving platter and pour the sauce over the mussels.
     Sprinkle a little bit of chopped parsley over the mussels.

     Note:  Any leftover or extra sauce, stocks and mushroom liquor can be used in other recipes.  Refrigerate or freeze in portions. 
     Viola!  Moules Poulette made the classic French way!  Now you should understand why classic French cooking is the highest rated cuisine in the world.  Sure it costs a few dollars more to dine at a good French restaurant, but it is well worth it!  The flavor of this moules poulette recipe is impeccably good!
     I made this recipe by the book with no short cuts, so the readers could see what a real moules poulette looks like.  Moules poulette is not simply mussels with a mushroom creme sauce.  A champignon creme can be made in a few minutes time.  A mushroom crem sauce is not a poulette sauce!
     Moules poulette sauce does take some time, effort and skill to make but it is worth it.  The flavor of the sauce is deep, rich, lemony and savory from the mushroom and seafood flavors.  The sauce barely has any cream in it.  The egg yolks and butter make this sauce look creamy!  The veloute was seasoned early in the recipe, so there is no need to season the veloute based poulette sauce again later in the recipe.  Poulette sauce is layered with additions of lemon juice.  This creates an incredibly good tasting lemon flavor!
     This mussels poulette can be served as an appetizer or light entree during a multi course formal meal.  Moules poulette is rather pricy in a classic French restaurant and rightly so.  Authentic classic French cooking is a real challenge for a chef.  That why I like classic French cuisine!  Yum!  ...  Shawna          

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