Friday, 1 April 2011

Redoing Paul Prudhomme

n.b. I've been meaning to write this down for a long time. Now is as good as ever.

Paul Prudhomme can reasonably be considered the primary spark in the Cajun renaissance. By this I mean that before Prudhomme, cajun cooking wasn't really in the american cooking consciousness. Emeril can easily be considered a TV powered follow-on.

The problem with Paul Prudhomme is that he uses outrageous quantities of fat. With today's cooking, that is not a reasonable approach. However, I believe that his recipes can be easily recast in a (slightly) lighter fare.

His first cookbook is "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Lousiana Cookbook". Let's examine his veal, oyster and artichoke over pasta. His method here is almost the same as his recipe for veal and oysters in crepes (an awesome recipe BTW): first, a seasoned flour is prepared. The veal is coated and ... "Melt one stick of butter". Say What???. One whole stick of butter? Who is he kidding? He fries the veal and then he adds another half stick of butter (no, I am not making this up) while he adds the artichokes. Then another half stick of butter. Finally, it's time to add the oysters and 3/4 of a cup of heavy cream, just in case you haven't had enough. It's rediculous.

First, let's change his method of dealing with the artichokes. I consider boiling 'chokes a crime. So, I vote for the Italian method here. Remove the outer leaves and steam them separately (and eat them as a side). Take the inner choke and slice it. Then saute it in a little olive oil and butter. Add water and cook gently until tender.

Let's change the first stick of butter to just enough oil (Canola is a good cheap choice) to fry all the veal pieces. You'll know how much by the volume of the veal. When brown remove the veal from the pan and put in the oyster water. Or white wine. This will generate a nice sauce. Add a few tablespoons of creme fraiche and stir. Then put in the oysters and cook. Lastly add the artichokes and the veal.

He serves over pasta but my critics think it would have been better over rice. I use oil instead of butter, trying to avoid saturated fats. A Tb here and there of butter improves the flavor. But two sticks of butter? That's crazy talk!

No comments: