Friday, December 26, 2014

Peruvian Purple Potato Vichyssoise

     Today's Recipe
     The first time that I made Vichyssoise in was while working in a Northern Italian restaurant in the early 1980's.  I was the garde manger chef.  Two chilled soups were offered on the menu and the second chilled soup was a Cucumber Dill Crème.  Of course, the Vichyssoise was made with Russet Potatoes at that restaurant, because Purple Potatoes from Peru were not commercially available at that time.

     The manager of the Northern Italian restaurant was an Italian Monk who had impeccable taste in fine food.  When I asked about why a French Vichyssoise was on the menu, I received a good education about Italian-French Border Cuisine.  Basically, classic French and Italian recipes intermingle on restaurant menus in the border region.
     Three great chefs worked in the Northern Italian restaurant while I was there.  One chef was from Corsica and he was a culinary arts instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.  One chef was a talented Italian American.
     The third chef owned a busy restaurant that was located on the Italian-French border.  This chef masterfully created some of the finest Italian cuisine that I had ever seen.  When I asked if the finely presented classic Italian cuisine that he prepared at the restaurant was like the food at his restaurant back home in Italy, the chef responded by saying "It has to be.  Most of the customers at my restaurant back home are French!  Just like here!"

     Later in my career, I served Vichyssoise as a special du jour during warm weather at many fine French cafés.  Relatively few chefs in America offer Vichyssoise in this modern age.  Many of the new wave of chefs in America only cook food to their own personal taste and very little classic cuisine is prepared.  Great items like Vichyssoise are disappearing into the past.
     I thought that the color of Peruvian Purple Potatoes would yield a nice looking Vichyssoise.  The light lavender color of today's Purple Potato Vichyssoise is certainly elegant looking.  Today's pretty looking lavender color Vichyssoise will certainly appeal to lady dinner guests!

     Peruvian Purple Potato Vichyssoise:
     This recipe yields  4 cups!
     Step 1:  Boil about 6 to 8 small whole purple potatoes in water.  (1 1/4 cups of mashed peeled potato is needed for this recipe.  Leave the skins on the potatoes, so the deep purple color is retained!)
     When the potatoes become cooked tender, cool them under running cold water.
     Remove the potato skin from each potato by scraping with the back of a paring knife.  (Peeling after cooking is easier with this kind of potato.)
     Place the peeled purple potatoes in a mixing bowl.
     Thoroughly mash the potatoes.
     About 1 1/2 cups is needed for this recipe.
     Set the mashed purple potatoes aside.
     Step 2:  Finely mince the white part of a leek.  (1 1/4 cup of minced leek cup is needed.)
     Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add the minced leek.
     Gently sauté and sweat the minced leek, till it becomes very soft.  Do not brown the leeks!
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of milk.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of light chicken stock.
     Add a bouquet garni.  (I used rosemary, bay leaf and thyme bouquet garni sachet.)
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Gently simmer for about 5 minutes, till the herbs have infused with the leek broth.
     Remove the bouquet garni.
     Step 4:  Add the mashed purple potatoes.
     Add 1 cup of crème fraîche.  (Crème fraîche is half soured fresh cream.  Just mix 50% cream and 50% sour cream together to make a quick crème fraîche.)
     Whisk the soup, till it becomes a smooth puree of potato and leek.
     Gently simmer, till the soup reduces to about 4 1/4 cups and it is a medium thin cream soup consistency.  Whisk occasionally.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Step 5:  Pour a little of the soup at a time into a fine mesh strainer (Mousseline Chinoise).
     Use a spoon or small rubber spatula to press the soup through the fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Chill the Vichyssoise to a basement temperature.  (No cooler than 56ºF.)
     Step 6:  Pour the chilled Vichyssoise into a shallow soup bowl.
     Garnish with watercress leaves.

     The light lavender color of this vichyssoise is very pretty to look at!  The flavor is the same as a classic old fashioned French Vichyssoise.
     Some people just puree Vichyssoise in a blender.  The silky smooth texture of a Vichyssoise that is passed though a Mousseline Chinoise Strainer is far superior.
     Chives are the classic garnish for vichyssoise, but the peppery flavor of the watercress is nice too.  Vichyssoise is a classic soup that is even more appealing when it is made with purple potatoes!

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