Gratin recipeGratin recipe Up to the XVI century concept"French cuisine" and "gourmet cooking" had nothing in common. Fat, overly digested or overcooked food, the lack of taste of which was compensated by a huge amount of all kinds of spices, was suitable only for mechanical filling of the stomachs. Everything changed after the ascension to the royal throne of Catherine de Medici. Florentine not only taught his subjects to wash their hands before eating and use cutlery, but also brought with them the most skilled Italian chefs who managed to fundamentally change the French's perception of taste. Moreover, in a short time, the students outdid the teachers. Dormant culinary ingenuity unfolded in full. From their hands, the words “garnish”, “omelette”, “sauce”, “mayonnaise”, “soufflé”, “restaurant” turned out to be international. And many dishes, despite the fact that they were originated from a completely different country, began to be associated exclusively with France. So, for example, happened with dishes from mollusks. Conduct an experiment for yourself: what comes first to the head with the word "oyster"? Of course, France. But the idea of ​​their use in cooking and method of transportation in aquariums belong to the ancient Romans. (However, there is reason to assume that they were “engaged” in mollusks in the 4th century BC. And the Chinese.) the capital of Roman Britain). Here and today, every year in October, oyster feasts are arranged with eating the local Colchester variety (Ostrea Edulis). One of the favorite dishes of the Romans were snails. They grew them in cochlear (snail) gardens, fattened with coarse flour for a long time and “watered” with wine. After all, the thicker the snail, the more tasty it is. Such a historical fact is known: when Caesar sent troops into Gaul, his numerous legionaries ate almost only snails. Many years later it happened again. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered to give his troops "emergency supplies" of these slippery creatures. As for the frogs - the second culinary emblem of France - the history of their use in French cuisine largely resembles the history of oysters. Snails in Burgundy. oil escargo ”(beurre d'escargots) Ingredients:

  • 1 kilogram of butter
  • 25 grams of salt
  • 5 grams of black pepper
  • 150 grams of garlic
  • 35 grams of shallot or green onions
  • 90 grams of parsley

Cooking method:Grind everything or chop very finely and mix. Then in an empty shell you need to put a little "escargot oil" (that is, the actual snail). Then return the snail to its shell. Add oil to completely cover the snail, up to the edges of the shell - about 5 grams each. Preheat the oven, place the snails in there and hold until the butter melts. Serve immediately on special plates and with a small fork. Cocktail with sea creatures So, shellfish, which are included in the diet of many nations, prepared by culinary masters of France, acquire the status of a "masterpiece". "Mussel gratin", "Mussels Busho" and, of course, "muklyad" - mussels cooked in white wine with the addition of thyme, garlic, cloves and leeks - a gift for a true gourmet. Still, the top line of the gastronomic parade is occupied by a special type of shellfish - oysters. Flemings Clara Peters and Frans Snyders dedicated their canvases to these primitive creatures, they were painted by John Singer Sargent, Edouard Manet ... There were times when not a single French feast was complete without oysters, and one guest could eat as many as six dozen, without violating etiquette or earning the title of special glutton. In wealthy houses in the 18th century, they were baked in pies, they were stuffed with poultry, especially turkeys, which, in addition, were served under an oyster, they were added to pork or lamb. But pickled oysters, both in France and in England, were considered the food of the poor, replacing meat with them. For example, Dickens' character Sam Weller says: "Oysters and poverty always seem to go hand in hand." However, such a plentiful "feast" did not last long: the unlimited consumption of oysters, as expected, led to their sharp decline in nature. And then in France began to introduce various laws on the preservation of "national wealth". From April to the end of October, shellfish fishing was prohibited, and penalties were applied to violators. But despite all this, in the 30s and 40s of the 19th century, Kankal fishermen continued to sell 50–70 million European oysters a year. By the beginning of the 1860s, this figure had dropped to 1–2 million, but not because demand fell, it was just that they had practically increased. Emperor Napoleon III of France even had to sign a decree allowing the import of oysters from Britain. It was from this time that they ceased to be cheap food available to ordinary people, finally moving into the category of delicacies with all the ensuing consequences. So, what is so special about them? It turns out that having a high nutritional status, oysters are rich in vital substances: zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin A. At the same time, they have low energy value - about 110 calories in one dozen. (Note to those who follow the figure.) As for the taste, it depends on the method of preparation, which, in turn, depends on the imagination of the cook. Just imagine: oysters are added even to cocktails! But the real connoisseurs and gourmets eat them raw. Purists even insist that they should not be watered with any sauce. Is that to enhance the taste you can squeeze a few drops of lemon, vinegar or Tabasco - the main thing is not to overdo it, because it is important to feel and get pleasure from the salty "breath" of the ocean. Raw oysters can be compared to wine, in the sense that they have the same complex taste, which varies greatly depending on the type and habitat. Yes, and they are named after the place where they caught. Experts believe that each region, and even each oyster bank has its own character and taste profile. The main thing that affects the quality of oysters is the conditions of the environment in which they grow: from the composition of minerals and salt in water to the temperature of water and feed of oysters. Some have a sweetish taste, others brackish, sometimes there is a mineral (slightly metallic) taste, and sometimes fresh melon. Their fabric or texture is soft and fleshy, but nonetheless slightly elastic. You can eat raw oysters only in months, in the name of which there is a letter “p”, since in the northern hemisphere the summer months are the spawning season, and it is believed that mollusks lose their taste during this period. Their meat becomes watery and fresh. You can not say, for example, about Mexican oysters, which breed all year round and are tasty both raw and cooked. You can feel all the taste richness only if the oysters are fresh. That is alive. To determine this is not difficult: the shell must be tightly closed. (The open ones, most likely, are already dead, and it is dangerous to use them.) In order to be convinced of this completely, you have to knock lightly on the sash. The living mollusk will quickly slam the "door". And it happens that the closed shells contain a dead mollusk. You can check this by also tapping the sash: if you heard a kind of deaf echo, then everything is fine. Another thing to note: to open a live oyster, you need some experience, since on land it firmly closes its “house” with a very strong muscle. This requires skills and tools. The most common way is to do it with an oyster knife, which has a short, thick blade about 5 cm long. It should be inserted from the back side, near the shell lock, then moved with a knife up, slightly moving her wrist, and so cut the clam muscle. (Inexperienced "door crackers" sometimes press too hard and often injure themselves if the shell suddenly jumps out of their hands.) Rockefeller Oysters In Paris, "Brasserie" (beerrestaurants) - a lot. Almost every one of them can order a dozen European or any other oysters, depending on the season, and eat without leaving the bar. Before you bring a tray with pieces of ice and clams nesting on it, you will surely discuss the taste qualities of the oysters you ordered and offer a glass of the wine that best suits them. Classic options are champagne, oak chardonnay, Alsatian varieties. But in general, the “pairing”, that is, the combination of wine with oysters, is done by professionals, who each season publish their lists, “versions of combinations”. So every year you are waiting for new sensations. Now about the price. Oysters are expensive, especially in areas where they are not grown. Thus, the "Rockefeller Oysters", one of the most expensive and well-known dishes in the world, are the signature dishes of America's oldest restaurant, "Antoine." It was created by the first owner of the restaurant, Jules Alchitore. By the way, there are two opinions about the name of the dish in honor of Rockefeller. First, the sauce is as rich as Rockefeller. And the second is the color of mollusks due to the various added spices and herbs - green. And green, as you know, is the color of the powerful “greenback”, the American dollar. The recipe of cooking "Rockefeller Oysters" is kept secret, but the professionals consider something similar to be close to the original. Ingredients:

  • 24 fresh oysters, 24 fold
  • 4 parsley stalks
  • 4 green onion stalks
  • Celery leaf handful
  • Not less than 6 leaves of tarragon
  • Not less than 6 leaves of Chervil
  • 120 g French bread crumbs
  • 170 g unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod or Tabasco (optional)
  • Large salt

Cooking method: Chop the greens very finely and grind with breadcrumbs and butter at room temperature in a mortar until all of this turns into a homogeneous mass (it is possible in a combine). Salt, pepper and add Pernos or Tabasco if you like. Heat a grinder. Sprinkle the baking dish with coarse salt (so that the oysters do not swing). Lightly moisten the salt. Plant the shells on the salt so that the liquid does not overflow. Insert one oyster per sash. Spoon over each oyster with the prepared pasta. And cook until the edges of the oysters go up and the oil starts to bubble. It takes about 5 minutes. The main thing is not to overdo it. “Everything that comes from France is simply bound to be exquisite!” Said Marie-Antoine Carem, the famous French chef who served with Talleyrand, George IV and Rothschild. And it’s hard not to agree. After all, even such an unusual dish, like frog legs, leaves the impression not so much of an exotic meal, as refined. The French themselves simply adore swallowing greenish amphibians. Moreover, lovers of chicken-like tender meat have united in clubs and associations, and in the city of Vittel, as is known, annual international frog fairs are held. Frogs are still loved in the historical homeland of their culinary use - in China. You can also see them in the menu of restaurants in England, where they were first brought and prepared by the “chief of emperors and emperor of chefs” Auguste Escoffier at the turn of the XIX and XX centuries. His dish, made specifically for the Prince of Wales, was called “Cuisses de nymphes”, which literally translates as “Nymph leg”. Today, even the French lack their own frogs, and most of them come from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar. Until recently, until 1982, India sold frogs. They were banned from exporting from there for the reason that with a decrease in the number of amphibians agricultural pests multiplied incredibly here, the losses from which are many times higher than the income from French orders. Official statistics show that every yearFrance "eats" about 3-4 thousand tons of frog legs. These are about 60-80 million frogs. Given the general population of the country, there is not too much frog meat per Frenchman. The cost of the delicacy varies from 6 to 10 euros per kilogram. In fact, limited supply options have led to the fact that there are few frogs on the menu of French restaurants. More often they are cooked at home. Meat is fried deep-fried or breadcrumbs. It is low-calorie and contains a lot of nutrients: phosphorus, calcium, iron, and its nutritional value is comparable to meat of mussels and oysters. More popular and "mass" - the snail. Fans of this delicacy call them land cousins ​​of mollusks. Edible gastropods can be of different sizes, from 2 millimeters to an African giant, sometimes as high as 312 millimeters, but snails of two kinds are used most often in cooking: “small gray” and “Roman” or “Burgundian”. The first - local residents of the Mediterranean coast, as well as the northern shores of Spain, France and the British Isles, where they were brought by the Romans. The second variety is found in many European countries. These creatures live in wooded mountains and valleys, feed on grape leaves and young grass, which is why they are called "grape". Especially valuable are the snails of Burgundy and champagne vineyards. Most correctly there are snails in November, then they are the most fattened. Although they are still forced to starve before cooking, this is done in order to remove toxins and toxins from their bodies. But from November to April, they are in hibernation, and when they wake up, they again need time to gain weight. Therefore, for gourmets in this period, they are of no interest. Snails, which in the restaurant menus are called exclusively “Escargo”, are served in many traditional French restaurants. But, if you decide to try this dish for the first time, it is best to choose an institution where they cook according to classic recipes. For example, L’Escargot, on Montorgay Street, opened in Paris in 1875. After a long discussion about the wine, which will best reveal the earthy aftertaste of this delicacy, and even longer waiting time you will receive a plate with six snails, filled with green sauce. The classic recipe calls for the inhabitant to be taken out of her house, to clean the inside, cook in butter, a huge amount of garlic and finely chopped parsley. Then return it back to the house and put it on a special dish with grooves. If you want to "build" this dish at home, then you will need live grape snails, which will have to be processed for at least a week. First, keep in a wooden box (in no case in plastic, the bottom should be purged) handy. Then they need to rinse under running water and how to dry (three days). Next, lay rows in a large vessel, sprinkling each layer of snails with coarse salt. They will start foaming heavily, spewing what is left inside them. There is another way. Holding snails for three days in a wooden box, rinse them under running water every evening. And put the box at least 15 inches from the ground, so that they could not eat. However, in the first day or two snails can be fed dill, which will improve their taste. Then dry for three days too. After drying and salting snails put in boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then they are taken out of the shell, the meat is placed in salted cold water for 15 minutes. Then again thoroughly washed. Now they are ready to cook or freeze for future use. Traditionally, the meat of snails is cooked in court broth -1/2 liter of white wine for 1 liter of water, where parsley, bay leaf, thyme, onion, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, cloves and other spices taste like mint or anise or even carrots (everything is taken by eye, as it depends on the preferences of the chief). Snails are put into the stock broth and cooked over low heat after boiling for 60 to 90 minutes. Such a long preparatory process makes the eskargo a festive dish. It enjoys special demand in France on Christmas and New Year's Eve, and in total for the year they consume about 600 million, while world consumption is about 100 thousand tons. “Delicious food and wine, this is heaven on earth,” Henry IV once confessed frankly. Probably, a similar look inherited from his cheerful king and modern French. Otherwise, why do they manage so skillfully to popularize their kitchen and find millions of admirers for their strangest dishes? Frog legs with sour cream This is a very simple recipe, which will take a little time to prepare, but it will certainly be possible to impress the guests. Ingredients:

  • 24 frog legs
  • 2 pieces of shallots (can be replaced with 1 onion bulb)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 250 g sour cream flour, salt, pepper

Cooking method: First you need to thoroughly wash the frog legs in a stream of cold water, dry them with a napkin and sprinkle with flour. Then chop the onion and lightly spasse in a griddle with half the oil. After 5 minutes, put the frog legs, let them fry on one side. Add the remaining butter, turn the chicken legs over so that they are fried on the other side (3 minutes), salt and pepper. Add sour cream and fry for another 3 minutes. You can add seasonings to taste, such as parsley, thyme, garlic. After that, put on a preheated dish and serve.