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French accent

Publish Date: 23 Mar 2016

Authored by: Luke Nguyen

In his new book, France, Luke Nguyen shares bistro classics and cherished family recipes. Paired with local wines, this four-course feast is ideal for your next dinner party.

Lyonnaise salad

Serves 4

Serve this classic French recipe as a dinner party starter.

Dash of white vinegar
4 free-range eggs – make sure they’re super fresh!
400g bacon lardons (thick-cut bacon, cut into matchsticks)
40 baby cos lettuce leaves

Croutons
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
12 thin slices stale baguette

Dressing
8 eschalots, thinly sliced
4 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 cup (250ml) extra virgin olive oil

To make the croutons, heat a frypan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and reduce the heat to low. Cook the baguette slices for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden. Remove and drain on paper towel. The croutons will crisp as they cool. They will keep in an airtight container in a cool dark place for several days.

Add the vinegar to a saucepan of slightly simmering water. Crack the eggs into separate ramekins. Using a large spoon, create a gentle whirlpool in the water to help the eggwhite wrap around the yolk during poaching. Slowly tip each egg into the water, white first. Leave to cook for 3 minutes, then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towel, then carefully trim the edges with kitchen scissors for a perfect shape, if desired.

Meanwhile, place a frypan over medium heat and fry the bacon lardons for a few minutes, until nicely browned.

Add the dressing ingredients to a mixing bowl, combining well. Add the lettuce and toss gently to coat. Transfer the lettuce and dressing to serving plates, then garnish with the lardons and croutons.

Place a poached egg on top of each salad. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

MATCH WITH


2009 The Truffle& Wine Co. Tamar Valley Vintage Sparkling

This vintage sparkling boasts impressive poise, white peach nuances and well-balanced citrus and green apple driving the length of flavour. A creamy bead carries the zesty citrus with a toasty development and long and even finish, cleverly cutting through the richness of the salad.

Winemaker: Ben Haines

Mussels in white wine

Serves 4-6

When buying mussels, be sure they smell like the ocean. Don’t buy any with shells that are cracked or open, or that refuse to close their shells when you handle or tap them. Try to cook the mussels immediately, but if you have to wait, place them in a bowl and cover them with a damp towel so they can breathe.

2kg mussels
50g butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 eschalots, sliced
1 leek, sliced, white part only
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
190ml white wine
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
Crusty bread, to serve

Clean the mussels under running water, scrubbing off any dirt or seaweed and removing the beards.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic, shallot, leek, bay leaf and thyme. Cook for 6–7 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent.

Add the mussels and the wine, cover the pan and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3–5 minutes, or until the mussels have just opened.

Discard any unopened mussels. Transfer the mussels to serving bowls and pour the cooking liquid over. Season with freshly ground black pepper, if you like, but never with salt – the mussels will be salty enough.

Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread.

MATCH WITH

2014 Audrey Wilkinson Chardonnay

The subtle use of French oak and the fresh, crisp acidity of this 2014 Chardonnay will enhance the flavour of these mussels without overpowering them.

Chief winemaker: Jeff Byrne

Beef daube

Serves 4-6

A meal in a bowl, this rich French stew uses an inexpensive cut of beef that is slowly braised in red wine and flavoured with aromatic cloves and juniper berries. As we are using a lesser cut of beef here, you do need a long cooking period.

1 tbs olive oil
4 oxtail pieces, each 8–10cm thick
1kg chuck steak, cut into 4cm chunks
150g smoked bacon, roughly diced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
750ml red wine
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 clove
4 juniper berries
2 oranges, zested, peeled and cut into segments, removing the membranes
1 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Bouquet garni
4 parsley sprigs
1 celery stalk
1 thyme sprig

Tie all the bouquet garni ingredients together with kitchen string.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the oxtail and brown on all sides, then remove and set aside.

Season the beef with a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brown the beef in batches, removing each batch to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the bacon, onion, carrots, celery and smashed garlic cloves to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes.

Now return the oxtail and beef to the pan, and pour in the wine. If the wine doesn’t cover the beef completely, add some water until this is achieved. Add the bouquet garni, peppercorns, clove and juniper berries. Bring to the boil, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Once the surface of the liquid looks clean, reduce the heat to a very low simmer. Add the orange segments and gently simmer for 3½ hours, or until the beef is very tender.

Remove the bouquet garni, then transfer the stew to serving plates. Serve garnished with the parsley and orange zest.

MATCH WITH

2015 Gemtree Cinnabar GSM

Crafted from certified organic and biodynamic vines in McLaren Vale, this delicious mouth-filling wine has sweet and generous raspberry flavours, nuances of creamy oak and velvety tannins. It complements the rich French flavours of the stew. Pour it in the stew during preparation and in your glass to serve.

Winemaker: Mike Brown

Petit lemon meringue tartlets

Makes 12

This recipe belongs to patissier and cook, Gerhard Jenne. The curd will keep in a very clean sealed container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Softened butter, for greasing
2 egg whites
A few drops lemon juice
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar

Sweet pastry
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
1 egg yolk
100g salted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (150g) plain flour

Lemon curd
100g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, diced
100ml lemon juice
2 eggs

To make the pastry, put the sugar and egg yolk in a bowl. Combine briefly with a wooden spoon, then add the butter. Using the spoon or your fingers, blend until the mixture comes together (you can also use an electric mixer). Sift in the flour and quickly work everything into a dough. Shape into a flat slab, enclose in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 1 hour before using.

Meanwhile for the lemon curd, place the sugar, butter, lemon juice and eggs in a heatproof bowl. Now sit the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken. To check whether it is thick enough, dip a wooden spoon into the curd, then run your finger down the back of it; it should leave a clear channel. Pour the curd into a clean bowl and leave to cool.

To make the tarts, grease a 12-hole 5cm mini-muffin tin with a little butter. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick. Cut out circles with a 6.5cm fluted pastry cutter. Use them to line the muffin tins, carefully pressing the pastry right down into the base. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

Line each tartlet case with foil and fill with dried beans or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and lift off the foil and beans or rice. Bake for a further 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, but leave the oven on for browning the top of the meringues.

To make the meringue, put the eggwhites in a large, clean bowl. Add the lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt and start beating with an electric mixer. Once bubbles begin to form, start adding the sugar a tablespoonful at a time, and keep beating until you have a stiff but silky-looking meringue.

Pipe or spoon a heaped teaspoon of lemon curd into each tartlet. Using a piping bag fitted with a 5mm plain nozzle, pipe circles of meringue into small peaks on each tartlet.

Place the tartlets in the oven with both the fan and grill switched on and leave for a few minutes, until the meringue tops are nicely browned – or use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelise the meringue evenly all over and give a defined two-tone effect.

The tartlets are best enjoyed the same day.

MATCH WITH

2011 Tim Adams Botrytis Riesling

This wine is very sweet, with pronounced botrytis characters in harmony with citrus and floral notes. The wine is delicious with citrussy desserts as well as full-flavoured cheeses. It will continue to improve in the bottle for a period of at least 10 years. Sealed under screwcap to ensure freshness and authenticity.

Winemaker: Tim Adams

This is an edited extract from France by Luke Nguyen, photographed by Alan Benson ($59.95, Hardie Grant Books).

For more tempting dishes from the book, plus 23,000 tried and tested recipes from top chefs, visit cooked.com.au

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