Jul 3

As a reminder, I’m cooking my way through Linda Dannenberg’s Paris Bistro Cooking, other posts are listed under the category “Paris Bistro Dining Quest.” One of the things that draws me to Paris Bistros is their history.  In the United States the failure rate of new restaurants is stunning — I’ve read everything from 60 – 90% of new restaurants closing their doors within the first year.  And it seems like the restaurants that don’t fail are the large personality free chains.  Finding  a restaurant with a family history is a gem.

The recipes I chose for this foray are from Chardenoux in the 11th arrondissement near the Bastille.  This is a beautiful area for walking with lots of charming shops and bistros, it’s also a haven for tourist traps so beware.  Cyril Lignac wrote a review of Chardenoux that includes some beautiful photos.

The bistro opened in the early 1900s and was owned by a family of the same name.  The restaurant is known for it’s stunning decor, etched glass, decorative wood molding.  In 1986 Marc Souvrain became the restaurant’s third owner; his take on food is a blend of the traditional with contemporary.  Judging by the reviews I’ve read he’s done it right.

For our menu I chose the Gigot a la Creme d’ Ail (lamb in a garlic cream sauce), Potato gratin and a decidedly not french chocolate pound cake.  I’m beginning to question Dannenberg’s ability to translate recipes and after I complete this book, I’m going to get a book from another author to see if my instincts are confirmed.  Her  cream sauce recipe called for 6 heads of garlic.  6 cloves would not have been enough, but 6 heads would have killed us (I used 1 1/2 heads).  Also because it was just Bill and I I opted for a small rack of lamb instead of a 3 pound leg.  Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.

I got a late start in the kitchen (7:30) which meant we didn’t eat until 10:00 p.m.  That was my fault, if you were doing this menu for guests you could make the garlic sauce a day ahead, assemble the potato gratin and marinate the lamb so that on the day of the party you just have to bake the lamb and potato and heat the sauce.

Garlic Cream Sauce (excerpted from Paris Bistro Cooking, p.39)

2 heads of garlic
2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh ground pepper
2 cups heavy cream

Separate the garlic cloves, but do not peel them.  Blanch them for 2 minutes in boiling salted water.  Drain and add to milk with bay leaf.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes.  Strain into another pan, squeeze the garlic cloves into the sauce, whisk in cream and cook over medium heat until reduced by one third.  Taste for seasoning and keep warm.

Lamb (recipe as written I used a small rack of lamb instead of a leg and it worked well)

3 pounds boned leg of lamb, fat trimmed
3 garlic cloves slivered
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
Fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Make slits all over the leg of lamb, toss garlic slivers with the dried herbs and insert in slits.  Rub the meat with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes.  (medium rare is 145 degrees, medium is 160 degrees)   Serve with garlic cream sauce.

* because I used a smaller rack of lamb I didn’t make slits I made a paste out of the herbs (I used fresh) and garlic salt and pepper and then rubbed the lamb and let it marinade for about 30 minutes.

Potato Gratin (excerpted from Paris Bistro Cooking, p.37)
1 1/2 pounds peeled potatoes sliced thin
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups scalded milk
1 large egg
1/2 clove garlic
3 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Prepare an 8×8 baking dish by rubbing it with the garlic clove and 1/2 of the butter.

Toss potatoes with salt and pepper (I omitted the nutmeg).

In a separate bowl slowly whisk the scalded milk into the egg.

Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in the dish top with 1/2 cheese, add second layer of potatoes top with milk and remaining cheese.  dot with remaining butter and bake for 45 minutes.

We had a 2006 Turnbull Merlot with dinner.  I love this wine, it’s  a bold Merlot with the familiar elements of fruit, but also has a smokey flavor to it.

I mentioned a chocolate pound cake.  This recipe was awful.  My only compliment was that it was moist.  There was no taste of chocolate because the recipe had way too much sugar.  It was like a cotton candy cake.  Here’s a link to the recipe – I don’t recommend it.

4 Responses to “Back in Paris – Lamb with Garlic Sauce”

  1. The lamb looks perfect! Excellent choice on the wine too!

    Happy 4th!!!


  2. wow that looks stunning!

  3. First of all, your site is really really nice…
    Second, That cream sauce looks awesome…Is the garlic taste real strong?

  4. Hi Miranda –
    Thanks so much for reading my blog. The garlic sauce wasn’t strong. When you slow cook the garlic as you do in the cream for this recipe it loses it’s edge and becomes sweet almost like roasted garlic. If I’d put 6 heads of garlic in it as the recipe called for I think that would have been too much. IIt was A LOT of sauce though. I strained and saved the left overs and then added some Parmesan cheese and used it as a pasta sauce. A little decadent but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out.

    Dawn (aka, the whineaux)

Leave a Reply