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French garnishes


designdog
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Hello.

By all repute, I am a fairly good home cook. My interest is French home cooking, which I perform daily for my wife and I - as I have been doing for twenty years or so. A recent visit to an old favorite French restaurant, however, confirmed that I have been missing the boat so to speak.

I seem to focus on the entree, be it a roast chicken, seared scallops, beef tenderloin steak, or even something more involved like a chicken fricassee or beef stew. What I am missing are interesting French garniture, or vegetable sides. I tend to simply cook one vegetable, depending on the entree, and it is getting repetitive.

Back to this restaurant. One thing that always impressed me here was that every plate contained several small servings of vegetables and starch. Perhaps the restaurant cooked these up from scratch each morning, perhaps not. What I am looking for is a good book - a guide to the matching, preparation, and re-use of this kind of garniture for a small home kitchen.

I have literally, hundreds of cookbooks, most of them about French cooking. I can certainly find several on the classic French garnitures. What I need, however, is something with advice and technique on a continuous garniture process for a small kitchen.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

-ddog

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I think you nailed it when you assumed the restaurant made batches of each of these side dishes daily from scratch. It's not that big a deal for a restaurant that's going to be using these sides with several dishes that they're churning out all night. Doing the same thing at home to garnish two plates is just a lot of work.

If you're cooking every night, you might find some sides (rice dishes, potato dishes, roasted vegetables) that you can make in big batches and keep reheating for a few days. This way you'll only have to make some of the meal from scratch each day.

Notes from the underbelly

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I'm not sure if this would fit into your idea of french garniture but it seemed an interesting way to handle the sidedish trouble.

I was reading a food blogger the other day who has found a new vegie solution of his own. It involves keeping a vegie broth at hand (in his case a corn broth) and mixing a melange of vegies into it and serving the star of the meal on top.

alforno blog"]alforno blog

hope that link works

maybe this one: alforno blog

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Consider working with the seasonal and traditional accompaniments as per Le Repertoire de la Cuisine; root vegetable glazed in appropriate fat (butter, lard or oil depending on the region or protein) with salt, a little sugar (to replace natural sugars lost and to maintain the vegetables’ cell structure) and finish with vinegar for acidity, to preserve color and stop the cooking process. Blanched vegetables and/or beans in warmer months and heated through to serve in the aforementioned regional fats.

For classical French adornment, practice knife cuts such as turned potatoes, crescent carved turnips or rutabagas, beveled carrots/parsnips and

(naturally) for showmanship and discipline. Use trimmings for aromatic garnishes when braising/simmering meats and whatever.

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Edited by Baron d'Apcher (log)
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I have the same challenge as you, but have found that I can mix up the routine by both changing texture or size of items that were previously served and when it just gets to the end I can always make a soup, stir fry or rissoto.

I tend to reuse roots for instance the next day as a puree with additional flavors to enhance the different protein that night. This week I make braised cabbage one night with chicken and then with pork the next night stuffed it into roasted apples.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Let this post go for a few days in hopes I would find something, but have not really satisfied my needs.

Perhaps another take on it: how about a reference for garnishes by entrée/preparation? In other words, you look up chicken saute, and you get several vegetable/garnish recipes that would go well with that dish. Kind of a reverse directory concept.

Of course this still does not address the issue of managing vegetable/garnishes in a small home kitchen...

-ddog

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Consider "Culinary Artistry".

It is an alphabetical directory of food items (proteins, veg, herbs, spices, regional themes) and below them is a list of their generally accepted methods of cookery, accompaniments and season. Chicken will have various methods of cookery and a significant list of appropriate garnishes, though it will be up to you to decide how to cook them. For what it is worth, "chicken sauté" is ambiguous. Perhaps redefine your main protein and it will be easier to search for a suitable garnish, though such a list would number in the thousands. It would be preferable to limit such a list by cooking with the seasons.

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