Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire

Say your child is going off to college and you are loading them up with useful things – or maybe they are just taking what they need.

A dictionary?

Maybe you’ll settle on an Internet site.

A thesaurus?

Ditto.

But when it comes to culinary matters make sure they have a copy of the foundations of modern cookery. Invest in Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire. The Original Unabridged Translation into English by H. L. Cracknell and R. J. Kaufmann (Wiley 2011) is a dense treasure of a book dating back to the 1921 edition. Under a handsome black and white cover, there is a new forward by Heston Blumenthal and CIA president Tim Ryan, as well as a memoir by Escoffier’s grandson Pierre.

There are over 5,000 recipes – the way recipes should be written for someone who already knows a bit about cooking. These are ideas – and that is precisely what a student (or anyone else) needs. These are recipes are to inspire – you can find the step-by-step recipes once you are inspired.

Besides the inspiration, the text make for terrific reading:

In spite of Monselet’s eulogistic poem and the title Animal Encyclopedique bestowed upon it by Grimod de la Reyniere, it is certain that without the culinary value of its ham, pork would not hold the place it does in the repertoire of the classical kitchen (p. 352)

Indeed, there is much to study.

RECIPE: 3242 Poulet Saute Saint-Lambert

Finely chop some carrot, turnip, onion, mushrooms, lean bacon, parsley stocks, and celery and cook gently with a little butter; add a little bouillon to complete the cooking then pass through a fine sieve. There should be approximately 1 dl (3 ½ fl oz or ½ US cup) of this puree. Season the piece of chicken and sauté them in butter. When cooked arrange in a deep dish, cover and keep warm. Deglaze the pan with 1dl dl (3 ½ fl oz or ½ US cup) each of white wine and mushroom cooking liquor. Reduce by half, add the prepared vegetable puree and allow to boil for a moment.

Thicken the sauce with a little butter, pour over the chicken, sprinkle with 2 small spoonfuls each of glazed small balls of carrot and very green peas. Finish with a pinch of coarsely chopped parsley.

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