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Learning from Joël Robuchon


Chris Amirault
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We've talked to the man himself. We've made his world famous mashed potatoes. But we've never talked about the things that earned Joël Robuchon the moniker of Chef of the Century from Gault Millau.

But, oddly enough, we don't have a topic devoted to the things we can learn -- or have learned -- from the guy.

On six flights during a recent trip, I read half of The Complete Robuchon, and as I read I found myself noting techniques, information, and a whole lot more. I thought that other members would have their own tips from The Man to share.

So: to start.

-- Put a tiny bit of neutral oil into a sauté pan, let it heat to temperature, and only then add a bit of butter. Oil is the cooking medium; butter is flavoring.

-- Put every grilled, sautéed, and roasted protein onto a rack (or overturned plate) and let it rest for half of the cooking time. Add the juices to the sauce, or pour it over the protein just before service.

-- Blanch nearly every vegetable, especially green ones, for 2 minutes in salted water; chill down; then cook as usual.

-- Use a pastry brush to apply oil, melted butter, and dressing in a light coat to meats, vegetables -- and plates.

-- Want to defat stock? Pour some ice water over the top and skim the fat that immediately rises and coagulates.

-- Soak leeks in warm water for 10 minutes to make them pliable and give you access to the dirt and bugs.

-- Remove shellfish as soon as each individual clam or mussel opens. They're done, after all.

-- Rinse your salad in cold water to which you've added a good dose of distilled white vinegar.

There are more -- that's only a few from the first 100 pages -- and I'm sure you have your own. What have you learned from Robuchon?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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There are so many things I've learned from Robuchon's books. Last May I was lucky to garner a copy of The Complete Robuchon signed by Chef himself.

Every fall I start the first of many batches of duck confit to use in dishes during the cold months. I've used my own recipe for years and never thought I would try another variation--until I turned to Chef Robuchon and his recipe for duck confit. While it is basically the same recipe as my own, a little spice is added to the duck as it rests in salt and herbs in the first few days--whole cloves. I would have never dreamed of using whole cloves to add flavor to duck confit, yet it's a masterful touch, adding just a hint of spice and fragance to the finished confit. I doubt I'll ever go back to my old recipe again.

It's the little touches that Robuchon shares in all of his books,(like stirring those mashed potatoes in a warm pot to leach out as much moisture as possible before adding the butter, like a few whole cloves added to a duck confit), that inspires me as a home cook to bring my dishes up to another level.

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Let us not forget Robuchon's method for french fries, starting with room-temperature oil.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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What's Robuchon's reasoning for the vinegar in the salad rinse?

I do this with almost all the produce I bring in from the garden in it's wash/cooling bath to (theoretically) make any bugs uncomfortable (acidic environment), let go and be more easily washed off. Same thinking? Some antioxidant properties maybe?

The Big Cheese

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My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

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On page 156 the method described is to soak the leaves in a sinkful of water with 3/4 cup white vinegar, "which will get rid of any bugs that may have stowed away," then rinse in a colander and dry in a salad spinner.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My first encounter with Robuchon was the book Simply French. It's the oldest cookbook in my collection and I save it for one very specific reason - there is a giant hair on the plate in the picture of the pineapple dessert. That picture reminds me that we are all cooking together, and that even Joel Robuchon can still screw it up. I've made nearly every recipe in that book because of that picture. Hey, if he can do it, I can do it. And there won't be any hair on my plates. :laugh:

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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I got the "Complete Robuchon" when it first came out, but for some reason sadly I never managed to actually delve into it and cook anything. I need to make duck confit in the next week or two, maybe I'll remedy my neglect of the book by starting with that recipe.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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In regards to the little green bud in the garlic close that seems to be a french kitchen thing.

When I took an amateur class the FCI the chef told us it can be bitter, it not always is. I have never noticed bitterness before I started removing it but then again I don't cook michelin level at home.

Anita Lo made the same comment in a cooking demo, it's more of a habit for her because it was done in the restaurants were she worked.

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I've done a fair amount of exploratory tasting on this issue and my palate is simply not able to discern the alleged bitterness. So nobody should remove it on my account. If you're cooking for Robuchon, I say remove it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, so I got 'The Complete Robuchon' for Xmas and I'm well chuffed with it. I can see I am going to learn a heck of a lot from it for quite a while. Typically for me, the learning process throws up some questions too and here's one I really would like help with:

BF-15s

Not, as I first thought, a B52s tribute band, but a type of potato. Question is, what's the nearest substitute and has anyone ever actually bought these? Doesn't seem like a very marketable name!

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