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Authors: Dorie Greenspan

Around My French Table (60 page)

BOOK: Around My French Table
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Cut the tuna crosswise in half, so that it will fit into a 9-×-5-inch nonreactive loaf pan (I use Pyrex). You can use a nonreactive 9-inch square pan, but depending on the size of the tuna, you might have to use a little more oil to cover it.

Put all the ingredients except the tuna, lemon juice, liquid from the preserved lemons, and olive oil into the pan and mix them together well. Add the tuna and use your hands to turn it around in the seasonings so that it's evenly coated on all sides.

Whisk the lemon juice, preserved lemon juice, and 1 cup olive oil in a bowl and pour over the tuna. If the oil doesn't cover the tuna, add a little more. Stir to mix up the seasonings a bit, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or as long as overnight.

An hour or so before you're ready to cook the fish, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. (You can make the tomato salsa now and keep it covered on the counter.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or foil.

Remove the plastic wrap and give the liquid and seasonings another stir. Put the pan on the baking sheet and cover it with a new sheet of plastic wrap (the temperature is so low that the wrap is in no danger of melting) or seal the pan with a sheet of nonstick aluminum foil. (Don't use regular aluminum foil, because if it comes in contact with the acidic marinade, it will turn black and discolor the fish.)

Slow-bake the tuna for 1 hour. When confited, the tuna will be firm, but it may or may not be rosy in the center.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
(The salsa can be made up to 2 hours ahead and kept covered at room temperature.)

The tuna can be served warm or left to cool to room temperature. Carefully transfer the tuna to a cutting board. Cut it into long slices, the way you'd cut beef, and transfer to plates. Spoon over some of the lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, and other seasonings, as well as a generous spoonful or two of the cooking liquid. Top with the salsa and a dab of the tapenade. (You can pass more at the table.)




I serve this in shallow soup plates, and while it's fine as is, it's really nice set over a bed of mashed potatoes (
) or Celery Root Puree (


Any leftover confit and marinade can be covered well and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve it chilled or at room temperature (my preference), or use it in Salade Niçoise (


Seafood Pot-au-Feu

lighter, brighter, quicker cousin, a dish for the spring and summer. Also think of it as a fooler, since as light as it is (there's just about no fat in the mix), its flavors are deep and complex, the happy result of poaching a succession of ingredients in a simple broth. First come the vegetables—potatoes, onions, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, and bright green sugar snaps—each one adding a layer of flavor; then comes the seafood—salmon, scallops, and mussels—each adding a little richness and a lot of interest.

Because this dish is simple, relatively fast to put together (the cooking time is counted in minutes, not pot-au-feu's usual hours), and invariably beautiful, it feels a little like a cheat. The first time I served it, a friend asked if it was as difficult and time-consuming to make as it looked. He seemed mildly disappointed when I confessed that it was really rather easy. I think he wanted to feel that I'd fussed a little more for him. If your conscience gets the best of you and you feel like you've got to fuss, make an aïoli or pesto—or both—to serve alongside.

For an even lighter version, try the all-vegetable pot-au-feu on

cups chicken broth
cup water
bay leaf
teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
strip lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
pound potatoes (new potatoes or small Yukon Golds), scrubbed
spring onions, trimmed, or 4 scallions, white and light green parts only
carrots, trimmed and peeled
leek, white and light green parts only
mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded if necessary
pound skinless salmon fillet, cut from the thickest part of the fish
sea scallops, side muscle removed
pound sugar snap peas
Aïoli, homemade (see Bonne Idées,
) or store-bought, and/or pesto, homemade (
) or store-bought, for serving (optional)

Pour the chicken broth and water into a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet with a cover (I often use a nonstick pan that's shaped like a wok). Toss in the bay leaf, ginger, zest, some salt (start with ½ teaspoon), and a little white pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 5 minutes.

You'll be cutting the vegetables and poaching them in succession, so while the broth is simmering, start by halving the new potatoes or cutting the Yukon
Golds into cubes about 2 inches on a side. Add the potatoes to the pot, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the spring onions or scallions lengthwise in half and rinse them to make sure they're free of dirt, then cut each half lengthwise into thirds (they won't hold together, and that's okay). If your carrots are thick, cut them in half the long way, then cut them crosswise into quarters; if they're slender, just quarter them. Cut the leek lengthwise in half, rinse it under cold running water to get all the dirt out from between the layers, and then cut each piece crosswise into quarters.

Add this batch of vegetables to the pot, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, thinly slice the mushrooms, then toss them in and cook for 5 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the vegetables to a bowl and cover.
(You can make the pot-au-feu up to this point a few hours ahead. Cover the broth and the vegetables and refrigerate until needed. When you're ready to continue, bring the vegetables to room temperature and the broth to a boil.)

With the broth at a light simmer, add the mussels. Cover and cook just until the mussels open—check after 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl as they open. When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and discard the shells; pour any liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl into the broth; discard any mussels that do not open.

Cut the salmon into 4 even pieces (I cut the fillet in half lengthwise and crosswise, making a cross, so that each piece has a thick meaty section). Slip them into the broth, cover, and poach for 6 minutes. Taste the broth and add a little more salt and white pepper, if you'd like. Add the scallops to the pot, followed by the mussels, the sugar snap peas, and the reserved vegetables. Cover and give everything another 2 to 3 minutes to warm up.

To serve, fish out the vegetables with the skimmer or slotted spoon—the mussels might come along with the vegetables. Top each serving with a piece of salmon and 3 scallops, and spoon over some broth. If you're serving aïoli and/or pesto, you can either put some directly on the fish or mix it into the broth.




Because this is really a stew, it's best served in wide shallow soup plates. I like to arrange the plates in the kitchen, but it's just as nice to bring the pot to the table and serve from there. Serve with forks, knives, and soupspoons.


While you can cook the vegetables a little ahead of time, the dish should be served as soon as the fish is poached. If there's leftover poached fish, make it part of a salad the next day.



For the first half of my life, I thought of mussels as the kind of dish my mother would have told me to avoid on a first date; now I think of them as just fine for dates and dinner parties. I owe the flip to a woman of a certain age who, unbeknownst to herself, taught me how to turn the admittedly messy job of eating mussels into an act acceptable in polite society.

We were in a small seaside restaurant in Cannes, and Mme. Mussel was at a table directly in our line of vision. She was beautifully dressed, perfectly coiffed, freshly manicured, and a regular—you could tell by the way she was greeted and the fact that her
coupe de Champagne
was brought to her the instant she was settled. But she wouldn't have held our attention had it not been for the mussels.

Mussel dishes like moules marinière (
), and any of its many cousins, are always served with a small two-pronged fork, so you can pull the mollusk out of its shell, and a bowl for the discarded shells, which, in my case, always ends up looking like something an angry tide dragged in. That is, until I started mimicking Madame, whose discard bowl could have been shot for the cover of a fancy food magazine. Here's what she did: As she finished each mussel, she'd fit the small end of the shell into the mouth of a shell already in the bowl. And when she'd circled the rim, she'd start on the next circle, forming the shells into a spiraling conga line that, when she'd finished her dish, looked like a necklace from some exotic island. It made the whole act of eating with your fingers seem elegant.

Of course, this technique works only if you've got patience, but here patience is rewarded: the shell game takes seconds longer than just tossing the empties, but it makes the pleasure of the dish last longer.

Here's one more mussel-eating tip (not as refined as the necklace trick, but neat in its own way): Choose a small mussel as your first and pluck the meat out with your fork, then retire the fork and use that shell as pincers for the rest of the dish. The shells are as efficient as the fork and far more fun.

Moules Marinière

in your neighborhood, then
moules marinière,
or fisherman's mussels, may slip right into your repertoire of great dishes that are simple enough to pull together on a weeknight. Once the onions and garlic are chopped, you're only about ten minutes away from dinner and a meal that is beautiful—I love the look of a big casserole chock-full of mussels, bluish black, shiny, and piled into the pot every which way, so you glimpse some open and filled with bits of herbs, others shells up and glistening with sauce—aromatic, healthful and fun to eat. Anytime you talk about mussels, you're talking about an elbows-on-the-table meal and messy fingers.

In this traditional and most basic mussel dish, onion and garlic, along with shallots, if you've got them, are softened in a spoonful of oil before you add white wine, herbs, and the mussels, clap the lid on the pot, and wait a few minutes until they steam open, the sign that they're done. Bay leaf, parsley, and thyme are the usual herbs, but in the summer, when my garden is in bloom, I often pick a few leaves of lemon verbena to add to the mix; in winter, I get that little hit of citrus flavor by adding strips of lemon zest.

I confess to using whatever white wine I've got in the house or open in the fridge, and the
moules marinière
is always good. However, if you want the dish to be super-good, I suggest a soft white wine that's not exceedingly dry—an Alsatian Riesling is perfect. Also, I'm not sure what made me do this originally, but years ago, I dropped a quarter of a chicken bouillon cube into the pot; I liked the subtle bit of extra flavor it added and have been doing it ever since.

BOOK: Around My French Table
4.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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