Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Complete Bocuse: An Autumn Dinner

Just last Thursday our copy of the long awaited "The Complete Bocuse" arrived. For foodies of a certain age it's a rather nostalgic look back to the 70s. The layout and photography immediately reminded me of the days when I eagerly awaited the arrival of each month's Gourmet magazine. It's a massive collection of famous and obscure recipes (500 according to the advertising) the "Chef of the Century" still serves throughout his restaurant empire.

By today's standard the recipes seem rather simple - just a few straightforward ingredients, carefully prepared. Indeed, Bocuse himself has described his cuisine as "grandmother's cooking" (you'll find her waffles on page 659). Whether or not Bocuse is still relevant in a world where once exotic ingredients are available at the click of a mouse and even home cooks can indulge in the complex artistry of Ferran AdriĆ  can be left to the professionals.  I'll happily cook these recipes for another 40 years.

So... why these two recipes? It being November, all sorts of winter squash are readily available, they're horrifyingly good for you, and Beth loves 'em. So the soup was an easy choice. I decided on the Turbot with Mixed Vegetables because it can be assembled in the "down time" while the squash and potatoes are boiling and then baked while eating the soup. Both recipes are easy - the hardest part is peeling the darn squash.

Winter Squash Soup
Recipe by Paul Bocuse

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

  • 1.5 pound Winter Squash
  • 2 medium Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium Leeks
  • 6 cups Water
  • 1.5 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tbs. plus more for the croutons Butter
  • 12 slices French bread
  • 6 Tbs Cream
  • Nutmeg
Cooking Directions
  1. Peel and seed the squash, rinse, and cut into 1 inch cubes. Peel, rinse and dice the potatoes. Clean and slice the leeks.
  2. Place the squash and potatoes in a large sauce pan with the water and salt. Bring to boil.
  3. Melt the butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat until they "melt". Add them to the squash and potato mixture.
  4. Boil the soup over medium heat until the squash and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Puree the mixture in a blender, food processor or food mill.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer over low heat another 5 minutes.
  7. Brown the bread in the additional butter and place the croutons on a plate, covered, to keep warm.
  8. Pour the cream into a serving bowl and stir in the soup.
  9. Dust with nutmeg and serve with the croutons on the side.
  • You can use whatever kind of winter squash is on sale. Don't get a huge one - you want to have about equal amounts of squash and potatoes.
  • The leeks will be ready in about the same time as it takes for the squash and potatoes to come to a boil.
  • Chances are your blender won't hold everything in one batch. Don't over fill - boiling hot soup easily makes a painful mess.
  • While the soup is boiling you'll have plenty of time to prepare the fish.

Turbot with Mixed Vegetables
Recipe by Paul Bocuse

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
  • 2 lb. Turbot or other flatfish
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1/4 Celeriac
  • 1 Leek
  •    Butter
  • 1 Boquet Garni made with:
    • 2 Sprigs Thyme
    • 1/4 Bay Leaf
    • 2 Sprigs Parsley
  • 1 cup White wine
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Clean the fish and cut into 4 serving pieces.
  3. Peel and wash the vegetables. Cut into fine julienne.
  4. Bring a medium sauce pan of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the vegetables for 7 to 8 minutes, drain and cool under cold running water. Pat dry.
  5. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the fish in one layer.
  6. Spread the vegetables in the dish and place the fish on top.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and place the bouquet garni in the dish.
  8. Add the white wine.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  10. Carefully remove the bouquet garni and serve from the dish.
  • Bocuse calls for a 3.5 pound turbot, cleaned and divided into 4 pieces (true flatfish yield 4 fillets, the topside being substantially larger). The 2 pounds I show is just a semi-educated guess at the total "ready to cook" weight. 
  • Chances are even a well stocked fish market is not going to have whole turbot. You can use any type of fish that has thin fillets - I used lemon sole.
  • 2 lbs of fish makes 4 very large servings. I used 1 pound (i.e. about 4 oz. per person) and we found the serving size perfect.
  • You'll end up with 3/4 of a celery root. It makes a nice addition to plain mashed potatoes or a rather tasty cream soup.
  • Bocuse suggests serving the fish with rice or fresh pasta. We made neither and didn't miss it at all.

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