We were first invited to a meal with the French in Niger, probably about 1984-85. We had become friends with several French firemen, policemen and their spouses through our horseback riding club. Quite an adventurous group; they would organize mounted “balades” that began at the club and included swimming the horses across the hippo, disease infested Niger river, in order to have a multi-course lunch on the other side, arranged and served by their cooks, housekeepers and gardeners. They called this a “pique-nique” and it lasted until the wee hours of the next day; horses having been sent back the long way with the grooms and car transportation back to our homes arranged.
Well really, my husband and I didn’t have the rhythm of the thing. They first served canapés and after that arduous ride, we waded right in and filled up. I won’t take you through the whole meal, but by midnight we had only just gotten to the beef fondue which wasn’t the main course! By 2 a.m., after interminable food and wine, we decided to skip desert and with a whimper, head home. I’m sure our friends thought, “those Americans just don’t have the stamina”.
Anyway. Yesterday our Saturday lunch menu with our friends the Parrets and our children, the best from Burgundy:
Salmon rillettes with baguette for cocktails
Saffron rouget appetizers
Mustard seed prime rib au jus with horseradish sauce
Roasted potato, parsnips, asparagus and mushrooms
Young sprout salad
Coffee with chocolate, peach raisins and locally made whiskey
Because we now have the rhythm, instead of dropping dead from food and drink overkill, after a brief 30 minutes, we headed to the Gourmet Food Salon that was being held in the covered market. We had lunched from 12 to 6.
The wine: We drank the appropriate wines with the meal, including a nice Bailly Cremant with the hors d’oeuvres. M. Parret was generous enough to offer wines from his cellar for the meal. He really out did himself with the 1976 Richbourg! I know he only brought it out because my husband was here; he insists that even though he likes my food, I lack “palate” in wines 🙂
Mustard Prime Rib Au Jus with Horseradish Sauce
7 lb prime rib roast
2/3 cup mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp yellow mustard seed
4 onions, cut into quarters
5 shallots, cut into quarters
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup port
2 cups veal/beef broth
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Season the roast with salt and pepper. Mix the garlic with the mustard and spread on the roast. Sprinkle and press in the mustard seed. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Mix the onions, shallots, vinegar and olive oil. Arrange around the roast and continue to cook for about 2 hours. Remove and allow to rest on a cutting board covered with aluminum foil.
Remove the onions and shallots from the roasting pan and discard. Add the brandy to the pan and deglaze over a medium flame until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the broth and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with the sliced prime rib and horseradish sauce.
Roasted Potatoes, Parsnips, Asparagus and Mushrooms
1 cup loose packed fresh rosemary leaves
4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
1lb potatoes, cut into cubes
1 lb parsnips, cut into cubes
1/2 lb asparagus, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1/2 lb of mushrooms quartered
In a food processor, make a paste of the rosemary, salt, pepper and 3 tbsp olive oil. Mix the paste with the potatoes, parsnips and asparagus. Add the remaining olive oil. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to roast for an additional 20 minutes.