Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.
When the Kennedys came into the White House the quality of the food served there went from 0 to 60. Instead of cooks and caterers Jacqueline Kennedy hired French Chef René Verdon. As you might imagine, he played an important role in bringing French cuisine to America.
JFK and Chef Rene Verdon.
One of the most famous dinners of the administration was held in 1961. Instead of serving a state dinner at the White House, an elegant tent was erected at Mount Vernon and the meal was an enormous success.
There was avocado and crabmeat mimosa, a wonderful rice dish and raspberries with crème Chantilly. The main course was Poulet Chasseur.
A view of Mount Vernon from the beautiful tent.
As part of my sauce series, Sauce Chasseur is made with French tomato sauce, one of the mother sauces of the 19th century that differs from Italian sauce in that it has flour and stock in the mix and is slow cooked with a ham knuckle or trotter. This addition gives the Sauce Tomate a velvety texture that is perfect for the elegant dish. I decided to use guinea hen instead of chicken for a deeper flavor. If you’ve never tried it, guinea hen is a great bird… sort of a cross between chicken and pheasant. I think when you try it you’ll see why everyone wanted a seat at the Kennedy table. The food and the company were superb.
Escoffier Sauce Chasseur
6 medium mushrooms
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 t minced shallots
1 c white wine
2 oz brandy
½ c tomato sauce*
1 c demi-glace
1 T meat glaze (Boil 1/2 c stock till reduced to a thick glaze – pay attention to it – it goes from glaze to burn quickly at the end; a non-stick pan is perfect for doing this.)
Peel and mince the mushrooms, heat ½ oz butter and olive oil. Fry mushrooms till slightly browned. Add t of minced shallots and remove half the butter. Pour 1 c white wine and 1 glass of brandy; reduce by half and finish with tomato sauce, 1 c demi-glace and 1 T meat glaze boil 5 minutes or until it is thickened slightly. Strain and reserve. You will have 1 cup of sauce.
1 large can tomato puree (I used Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
1 strip bacon, chopped
small piece ham knuckle or trotter with bone or piece of ham with bone – about the size of a child’s fist
3 T carrot, chopped small
3 T onion, chopped small
small clove of garlic
1 T butter (the bacon will give up about 1 T of fat, add more butter to make 2 T fat)
2 T flour
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 c stock
Cook bacon in butter, sprinkle with flour, add tomatoes and veg and ham and stock. Boil and cook over low heat for 2 – 3 hours, stirring frequently (it will scorch a little). Take out bouquet and ham and strain, pressing on the solids. Whisk till smooth.
Escoffier’s Guinea Hen Chasseur
The guinea hen will serve 2 – 4, a chicken will serve 4 – 6
1 guinea hen or a 3-1/2 lb chicken cut into serving pieces (breasts without bone, legs, thighs and wings –reserve back and breast bone for stock) or 4 breast or 8 thigh pieces
salt and pepper
1 T butter
1T olive oil
¼ c white wine
1 T cognac
1 c chasseur sauce
8 sliced mushrooms ( I used shitakes and chanterelles)
chopped parsley (tarragon and chervil are nice too but optional)
Salt and pepper the meat and brown it well in equal quantities of butter and oil. Cook at medium heat until cooked through. Cook the breast meat less than the rest of the meat. Place on a dish and cover. Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining fat.
Pour out the fat. Swirl the saucepan with white wine and cognac and reduce. Put the chicken back in the pan and toss with mushrooms, pour chasseur sauce over the meat and sprinkle with herbs.
Couronne de Riz Clamart
Based on recipe from Kennedy’s social secretary Letitia Baldrige, 6 servings
2 tsp butter
1/2 cup each finely chopped red and green pepper
(I used 1 poblano pepper)
3 cups cooked long grain white (or brown) rice
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
(I think 1/2 c is better)
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 plum tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (I used about 8 un-peeled cherry tomatoes since they have flavor at this time of year)
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 cup baby peas
In skillet, melt half the butter over medium-high heat. Add peppers, cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reserve.
In bowl, gently stir together rice, eggs, Parmesan cheese, chicken stock and parsley.
Stir in peppers, tomato, salt and pepper.
Spoon rice mixture into generously buttered 1 quart round tube mold or Bundt pan, packing down gently with spoon (I used a copper mold and put ramkins in the center since I wanted a taller shape!)
Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand for 2 minutes.
Invert over serving platter over top of mold and turn out rice mixture.
Toss peas with remaining butter, spoon into center of rice ring.