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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Classics for the Parisian lunch

     Everyday lunch for a Parisian is, again, a practical affair.  Just like I remember from “the Paris of South America” (i.e. Buenos Aires), most of the shops and offices allow for a 2-hour lunch break during which to recharge and have a simple but proper meal.  We should adopt this in North America too.  I think it will provide for less aggressive teenagers and stronger families.

     But going back to the theme in question, a very common lunch is that of entrecôte and pommes frites.  In Argentina we add a salad of lettuce and tomato to this, and a good glass of red wine.  I make mine whenever I feel the need for a nice juicy steak, and I cook it in-between saignant and à point.  This of course, is pure preference, but as I immerse myself in the ways of proper eating, I find there is something to be said about meat eaten almost raw, and that is, that carnivores appreciate (or at least should appreciate) the value of raw meat.  A kind of going back to the source, in a way.

     So when I’m ready for my “raw” fix, I buy the best entrecôte I can find and pair it with a cool glass of Beaujolais “Fleurie” (good to break all that cholesterol!).  I follow the recipe from “Culinaria – France”.

Entrecôte Villette:

Ingredients for 1 serving:

  • 1 entrecôte (ribsteak), weighing about 10 to 12oz. and no more than ¾” thick
  • 5 shallots
  • 6 ½ Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Lemon juice
  • Fleur de sel

     Pepper the meat, cover and allow it to rest for 2 hours.

     Peel and finely chop the shallots, then heat a third of the butter and brown the lightly salted entrecôte on each side for a short time.  Remove from the pan and keep warm.  Melt the remaining butter, add the shallots and brown for 2 minutes.

     Serve the meat on a warm plate, pour on the shallots and butter, sprinkle with parsley and add a few drops of lemon juice.  Then add the fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Serve with French fries.

For the “pommes frites”:

     This method will yield you crisp, golden fries with a soft center.  You will need 1 medium mealy potato, cut into ¼” strips.  Once cut, submerge in water for about 15’.  In the meantime, heat either sunflower or grapeseed oil up to 300F (use a thermometer). 

     Get the potato slices out of the water and dry with a tea-towel.  Once the oil is hot, dip them for 4 minutes.  Take them out and place on a paper towel.

     Bring the temperature of the oil down to 130F and dip the fries again for another 4 minutes.  Take them out and place on a paper towel again to get rid of the extra oil.  Sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve immediately.

    When I am at the office, I often bring a Croque Monsieur for lunch.  In Argentina we know this as “sandwich mixto”, and it is served at all hours in any confitería.  Here’s the simple way to make it:

Croque Monsieur:


  • 2 slices of pain de mie, without the crusts
  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ slice of cooked ham
  • 2 Tbsp. finely grated Comté cheese

     Thinly spread the butter onto both sides of the bread.  Lay the ham on one slice and sprinkle on the finely grated cheese.  Cover with the second slice of buttered bread.  Preheat the broiler.  First broil on one side, then the other.

A quick bite at my desk.

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