Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dark Soubise, Reviving a Classic

This evening I discovered a delicious, yet obscure French classic, Dark Soubise. It's named for an 18th century French nobleman, Charles de Rohan who was the Prince of Soubise according to Larouse Gastronomique. I was introduced to it a couple of months ago when it made a brief appearance on the menu where I work served on a delicious cheeseburger. Out of curiosity and in the name of research, I prepared it on Monday as part of my weekly cooking project. We had it for dinner after work tonight and WOW!  What a wonderful treat - hearty, deep, and rich in flavor without weighing heavily on the stomach.  Best of all, you can make it from chicken and beef scraps that might otherwise go to waste.

The more common Soubise is creamy with a bechamel base.  Simply start with a roux, add milk, and stir in pureed onions.  This is served as an accompaniment to eggs and beef occasionally. I could find no reference to dark Soubise anywhere except for a cookbook by Laurent Tourondel of the BLT empire called New American Bistro Cooking published in 2007.  For a dark Soubise simply add pureed caramelized onions to a beef stock.  Homemade is best.  Following is my recipe for dark Soubise. It takes time, but the results are wonderful. I use some chicken trimmings in addition to the beef to add complexity, but you could use only beef if you like.  I simmered some pre-made tortellini in it to make it a meal, but this could easily be served as a first course or serve as the base of a sauce for a main course as well.

CQ's Dark Soubise

4 or 5 beef ribs
2 or 3 beef marrow bones
10 to 12 pre-made tortellini
2 chicken wings
1 chicken back
1 chicken liver, neck, and heart (the goody bag inside the chicken when you but it whole)
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
2 yellow onions, cut into thin rings
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
3 or 4 bay leaves
3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 bottle dry red wine
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

optional: fresh sage, tarragon, parsley, or other herbs.

For the beef stock:
  1. Liberally season the meat with salt.
  2. Brown the chicken and beef bones and rib in a frying pan.  Work in batches so as not to steam the meat.  Get as much color on them as you can. Put them in the crock pot.
  3. Sautee the remaining vegetables.  Season with salt and add them to the crock pot with the meat.
  4. Deglaze the pan with a cup of brandy, being sure to scrape all of the brown bits from the pan.  Add the pan sauce to the crock pot.
  5. Add the remaining herbs and wine to the crock pot.  Cover all of the ingredients with water.
  6. Let the crock pot cook on low heat for at least 4 hours without the lid.  8 hours is optimal.  You can do this overnight if you like.
  7. Skim off any scum and fat from the stock.
  8. Strain through a fine mesh and reduce down to half
  9. Puree the caramelized onions (see below) into the reduction and season with salt to taste.
For the onions:
  1. Heat 12" stainless steel skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil.  When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion rings.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar and sweat the onions until they begin to caramelize, stirring every now and then so the onions do not burn.
  3. Once the onions are soft and cooked through remove them for later use.
 To serve the Soubise:
  1. Bring the Soubise up to a simmer. Optional: Add sage, tarragon, or whatever fresh herbs you like.
  2. Add Tortellini and cook according to instructions on the package.  You could also use shaved fresh mushrooms, or dried ones.  The results would be equally as delicious.  If you use dried mushrooms, be sure to wash them well to remove any grit.
  3. Ladle into warmed soup crocks and garnish with chopped parsley or scallions.
Bon appetit!

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