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Bouchon (The Thomas Keller Library) Kindle Edition
IACP Award Winner
Thomas Keller, chef/proprieter of Napa Valley's French Laundry, is passionate about bistro cooking. He believes fervently that the real art of cooking lies in elevating to excellence the simplest ingredients; that bistro cooking embodies at once a culinary ethos of generosity, economy, and simplicity; that the techniques at its foundation are profound, and the recipes at its heart have a powerful ability to nourish and please.
So enamored is he of this older, more casual type of cooking that he opened the restaurant Bouchon, right next door to the French Laundry, so he could satisfy a craving for a perfectly made quiche, or a gratinéed onion soup, or a simple but irresistible roasted chicken. Now Bouchon, the cookbook, embodies this cuisine in all its sublime simplicity.
But let's begin at the real beginning. For Keller, great cooking is all about the virtue of process and attention to detail. Even in the humblest dish, the extra thought is evident, which is why this food tastes so amazing: The onions for the onion soup are caramelized for five hours; lamb cheeks are used for the navarin; basic but essential refinements every step of the way make for the cleanest flavors, the brightest vegetables, the perfect balance—whether of fat to acid for a vinaigrette, of egg to liquid for a custard, of salt to meat for a duck confit.
Because versatility as a cook is achieved through learning foundations, Keller and Bouchon executive chef Jeff Cerciello illuminate all the key points of technique along the way: how a two-inch ring makes for a perfect quiche; how to recognize the right hazelnut brown for a brown butter sauce; how far to caramelize sugar for different uses.
But learning and refinement aside—oh those recipes! Steamed mussels with saffron, bourride, trout grenobloise with its parsley, lemon, and croutons; steak frites, beef bourguignon, chicken in the pot—all exquisitely crafted. And those immortal desserts: the tarte Tatin, the chocolate mousse, the lemon tart, the profiteroles with chocolate sauce. In Bouchon, you get to experience them in impeccably realized form.
This is a book to cherish, with its alluring mix of recipes and the author's knowledge, warmth, and wit: "I find this a hopeful time for the pig," says Keller about our yearning for the flavor that has been bred out of pork. So let your imagination transport you back to the burnished warmth of an old-fashioned French bistro, pull up a stool to the zinc bar or slide into a banquette, and treat yourself to truly great preparations that have not just withstood the vagaries of fashion, but have improved with time. Welcome to Bouchon.
They should, however, trust this justly celebrated chef, whose sometimes-painstaking refinements reflect a better way. Apart from the excellence of the dishes, the reason to own Bouchon is to discover the richness of Keller's technical understanding. Readers learn, for example, not to baste chicken while it roasts, which creates skin-softening moisture, and to allow the base for crème caramel to sit before baking, thus permitting its flavors to deepen. Keller's sensitivity to ingredients and their composition is profound; and he and his collaborators have presented it so deftly that one finds oneself engrossed again and again. Whether Keller is talking about vinaigrettes (in their balance of fat, acid, and saltines, the perfect sauce) vegetable glazing, or the creation of brown butter, his insights are fascinating.
The dishes cover a wide range of courses, and include the traditional--poule au pot, veal roast, pommes frites, and so on--and the "new," such as Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables, Skate with Fennel-Onion Confit and Tapenade Sauce, and Grandma Sheila's Cheesecake Tart with Huckleberries. All are, as the French might say, impeccable--and can be accomplished by anyone willing to take the time to do so. Like his cooking, Bouchon is a sui generis treat. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- ASIN : B01L0SSK5C
- Publisher : Artisan (October 25, 2016)
- Publication date : October 25, 2016
- Language : English
- File size : 58242 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 683 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #686,351 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on August 8, 2017
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First, the book is a superior reference work of bistro dishes and how to prepare them. It is certainly not complete, but then I think no cookbook in the world will ever be a complete reference to any subject, as every culinary subject changes daily due to changes in provisions, historical research, and the enormous variety in how even one dish is made from place to place. For example, both `Bouchon' and Tony Bourdain's recent book on bistro recipes from Les Halle has five (5) dishes containing mussels, yet no two are the same dish. For all of the virtues of Bourdain's book, Keller's book is superior as a reference to the overall style of cooking if only because he and his editors rigorously give both French and English names to all dishes.
Second, as amazing as it is to say this, lots of dishes in `Bouchon' are actually easy to make. The initial roast chicken recipe is literally not much more complicated than carefully prepping the carcass and sticking it into the oven. Keller does not even baste the beast and it is done within an hour (for a 3-pound bird). And, all this with the cachet of making a Thomas Keller recipe. Almost all the salads and `openers' dishes are equally as simple, as long as you have high quality ingredients.
Third, the pantry chapter of recipes is a more complete reference for making stocks and other sauce bases than I have seen anywhere else. My former gold standard for stockmaking recipes was in `The Zuni Café Cookbook' by Judy Rodgers. This is better by giving recipes that are just as good, better written, and a more complete collection of stocks than I have seen anywhere else. The only thing I would possibly add to this chapter would be a recipe for a court bouillon. But, the recipe does appear in the book as a part of the recipe for a shellfish platter. Other sauces such as a mignonette sauce and a cocktail sauce also appear `in situ' along with appropriate dishes with which they are used.
Fourth, the book is simply packed with important culinary techniques. Most of these are not the sort of thing which will find their way to the quick tips pages of `Cooks Illustrated' or `Gourmet' as they are not shortcuts, but more painstaking ways to improve what is probably already an excellent dish. One dramatic example is Keller's twist on braising where he segregates his flavoring vegetables at the bottom of the Dutch oven under a layer of cheesecloth before adding the meat and the broth. In this way, it becomes very easy to remove the finished meat from the veg and retrieve the broth with little or no odd floating bits of celery leaf or thyme branch. A more simple technique is the recommendation to transfer finished stock to the filtering device with a ladle rather than simply pouring the stuff into the chinois. The force of the uncontrolled flow will force some unwanted particles into the filtered stock. It is all about little details piled up upon one another, which separates good from great cooking.
Fifth, Keller's interpretation of bistro cooking is uncompromising. One dramatic example of this is his claim that America has forgotten how to make a proper quiche, if it ever did know in the first place. The cardinal sin is to make a quiche in a pie pan. This is no surprise, as Julia Child in `Mastering the Art of French Cooking' gives the same warning. What is more surprising is that while most Americans probably use a tart pan with sides of no more than an inch and Child recommends a flan or cake pan with sides up to 11/2 inches, Keller states that you need a 2 inch tall pan to make a proper quiche. A more subtle difference is in his technique for preparing his pate brisee. Virtually every pie crust recipes I have ever seen calls for cutting in butter to leave lentil-sized bits of butter in the mix. Keller insists this is a mistake for a quiche with a wet custard filling, as the pockets of butter create weaknesses in the dough that may break through before the custard filling has firmed up.
Although the book contains many simple recipes, there are also many classic recipes such as boeuf bourguignon, which are literally essays in classic French cooking. Tony Bourdain's recipe for boeuf bourguignon requires 10 ingredients and two concise paragraphs to describe the method. Keller's recipe calls for 43 ingredients in 5 different component preparations, not including the veal stock preparation. This recipe is the poster boy for Keller's take on bistro cooking, which is technique and constant refinement by filtering, skimming, and straining. While the authors have been painstaking in translating the professional's practiced eye and nose into English, this cooking is still about constant attention to the state of the dish as it cooks, and of recognizing the right time to move from one stage to the other. It is this dish where if Bourdain did it at the French Laundry his way, he would be fired on the spot.
This book is so large that it will probably be unwieldy to cook from in the kitchen. Open, it is large than two of my cutting boards together. Still, I cannot overstate how valuable this book is to someone who loves to cook and to read about cooking.
Very highly recommended.
As I read through a second time, having realized this, I found that there is a lot to be learned.
Top reviews from other countries
Cooking for me is therapeutic and the more that goes into the process the better and I can focus my mind on the end result. There are enough recipes in this book to do exactly that.
It’s a lovely book and I’m making it my business to cook at least one main course and one dessert a month from it.
However the recipes are appetising and reflect the Lyons "bouchon" tradition very well.
Maybe the most important information is the results...Fantastic...thats my starting point not only for myself but also from my friends who ensured there wasn't a morsel left on their plates.