Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Southern Fried Green Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato aux Sauce Lautrec and Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique

     A Gourmet Fried Green Tomato!
     When it comes to serving fine food, "presentation is nine tenths of the law!"  An ordinary Southern style appetizer, like Fried Green Tomatoes, can be jazzed up, just by applying a little bit of extra effort.  Applying a couple of tasty French sauces to the presentation can turn Fried Green Tomatoes into a classy food item.     
     Sauce Lautrec is a classic French mint cream sauce for savory food and it usually accompanies shrimp, lobster or lotte.  This sauce receives very little attention these days and few chefs remember Sauce Lautrec at all.  Sauce Lautrec was named in honor of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 
     Sauce Lautrec can be made with Béchamel or a Velouté Sauce Suprême, depending on the application.  This sauce can also be made by simply reducing cream, but a cream reduction is costly and it is not exactly healthy.  The key to achieving a peak mint flavor is accomplished by adding the mint late in the recipe.
     Understanding the principal of a gastrique is essential to know, before making this item.  A gastrique is a digestif that can be used as a glacé sauce.  A gastrique contains the essence of herbs, spices, shallot, vinegar and seasonings that ease the digestive process.  A gastrique looks like a sugar syrup, but it is not sweet.  This is because the sugar is cooked to varying degrees of caramelization before the rest of the ingredients are added.  A gastrique also features an intense featured flavor and it takes on the color of whatever featured ingredient is added.  For example, a Strawberry Gastrique will be bright red and will have an intense strawberry flavor with undertones of digestif herb flavors, yet the glacé will not taste sweet.     
     Fine dining restaurants usually have a large wine cellar.  The sommelier manages the wine maturation process in the cellar.  Occasionally a good wine ages beyond its lifespan and turns into vinegar.  Good wine that has turned into vinegar is perfect for making vinaigrette or gastrique sauces.  White wine vinegar is best for making a gastrique, but red wine vinegar can be used for certain gastriques too.  If a great bottle of red wine turns to vinegar then making a gastrique is a good idea, because featuring the name of the great red wine in the gastrique title will impress guests. 
     Of course featuring a great red wine that has not turned into vinegar can be done too.  The addition of red wine accents the vinegar qualities in the gastrique.  The red wine tannins also act as a natural digestif.  When a great red wine is the featured flavor in a gastrique, using the name of the wine in the title of the gastrique will interest guests.  A combination of fresh raspberries and Italian Tormaresca Neprica Wine are featured in today's gastrique recipe, so the best choice for a name is Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique.  Simply calling this creation a "Raspberry Red Wine Gastrique" certainly would not be as effective for romancing the guests.
     For making a truly gourmet fried green tomato appetizer, selecting an organic heirloom green tomato is the best choice.  There is a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes to choose from and some taste great when they are an unripe green color.  For today's recipe, I selected an unripe Orange Amana Tomato.  Orange Amana Tomatoes are also called a few other names, so visual identification is the best tool.  Photos of a ripe and unripe Orange Amana Tomato can be seen in the pictures at the top of this article.   
     A green unripe Orange Amana Tomato will have some orange tint when it is cut open.  This heirloom tomato varietal is meaty, so it is perfect for frying.  A ripe Orange Amana Tomato tastes sweet, while an unripe green Orange Amana Tomato has a pleasant sweet tart flavor.      

     Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique:
     This recipe yields almost 1/2 cup.  (Enough for 6 to 8 garnish applications.)  
     A gastrique has a concentrated rich flavor, so a little bit goes a long way.  Gastrique has a very long shelf life if it is refrigerated.  A chilled gastrique will need to be warmed before serving. 
     *The sugar is cooked to a dark amber color for this gastrique.  Always wear protective clothing when working with molten sugar.   
     Step 1:  Chop 1 cup of raspberries into small pieces and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of sugar.
     Boil till the water evaporates and the molten sugar starts to bubble and foam.
     Cook the molten sugar till it turns an amber brown color.
     Step 3:  Immediately add the reserved chopped raspberries.
     *Do not stir or the molten sugar will harden on a spoon like candy! 
     Carefully and gently shake the sauce pot, till the molten caramelized sugar seizes the raspberries as it hardens.
     Cook for a few minutes, till the raspberry juices just start to melt the hardened sugar.
     Step 4:  *Steam will be produced in this next step, so be careful.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
     Add 1/2 cup of Tormaresca Neprica Wine.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Add 1 laurel leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of whole fennel seed.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the gastrique is a thin syrup consistency that can glaze the back of a spoon.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Pour the gastrique through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     *Do not press the fruit pulp through the strainer!  Discard the spent fruit pulp along with the other solid ingredients.
     Step 7:  Let the Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique cool to room temperature.
     Place the gastrique in a plastic squirt bottle.
     Set the gastrique aside or chill it for later use.
     *A chilled gastrique must be warmed to room temperature before it can be used.

     Chicken Velouté:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup of velouté sauce.
     • A white roux is used in place of a blonde roux, when making a velouté sauce that will be used to make sauce suprême!   
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir, till the roux cooks to a pale white color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of chicken stock.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Whisk the sauce occasionally as it comes to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  When the sauce comes to a gentle boil, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add a tied bouquet garni of:
     - Leek
     - Celery
     - 1/2 of a small bay leaf
     - 1 small prig of thyme
     - 1 parsley stalk
     Step 4:  Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin sauce consistency that barely glazes a spoon.  (There should only be about 1 cup of velouté sauce after the reduction is completed.)
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter, while whisking.  (Monte au beurre.  This will keep a "skin" from forming on the velouté.)
     Set the velouté aside.

     Suprême Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups of sauce.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of velouté sauce in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of mushroom peelings.
     Add 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of crème fraîche.  
     *Modern crème fraîche is a mixture of 50% sour cream and 50% cream.  Only add enough crème fraîche to turn the velouté into a white color. 
     Step 2:  Place the pot over low heat.
     After the sauce heats, simmer the sauce for 10 minutes.
     Whisk the sauce, till it becomes smooth.
     Step 3:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container. 

     Sauce Lautrec:
     This recipe yields 2/3 cup.  (2 generous garnish portions)       
     Step 1:  Place 2/3 cup of the Suprême Sauce in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1/3 cup of dry white wine.
     Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced fresh mint leaves.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chilled unsalted butter while stirring.
     Step 4:  Place the sauce in a ceramic cup
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Southern Fried Green Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato:  
     This recipe yields 1 large appetizer portion or 1 lunch entrée portion. 
     Southern Fried refers to pan frying in a cast iron skillet.  A combination of lard, bacon grease or chicken grease and oil is used as a frying medium.  Buttermilk and seasoned flour is a Southern style coating.  
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk in a mixing bowl and set it aside.
     Place 2 cups of all purpose flour in a second mixing bowl.
     Lightly season the flour with 2 to 3 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Set the bowl of seasoned flour aside.
     Step 2:  Place a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of roasted lard, chicken grease or bacon grease.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil, so the level of oil is about 1/2" deep.
     Adjust the temperature to 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Select a green unripe Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato that is about 3 1/2" to 4" in diameter.
     Cut the tomato into 1/4" thick slices.  (5 or 6 slices will be needed.  Discard the end slices.)
     Step 4:  Dredge the tomato slices in the seasoned flour.
     Dredge the floured tomato slices in the buttermilk.
     Dredge the buttermilk coated tomato slices in the seasoned flour a second time to create a thin coating.
     Step 5:  Place the coated green tomato slices side by side in the hot oil.
     Pan fry till the bottom half is a golden color.
     Use tongs to turn the tomato slices over.
     Fry till the coating is crispy golden brown on both sides.
     Step 6:  Place the fried green tomato slices on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the fried green tomato slices warm on a stove top.
     Southern Fried Green Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato aux Sauce Lautrec and Tormaresca Neprica Raspberry Gastrique:
     This recipe yields 1 large appetizer (or 1 lunch entrée).
     Step 1:  Use a spoon to pour and spread a 7" to 8" diameter bed of Sauce Lautrec on the center of a large plate.  (A little more than 1/4 cup.)
     Use the squirt bottle of Raspberry Tormaresca Neprica Gastrique to paint a simple spiral design outward from the center of the Lautrec Sauce.
     Drag the tip of a skewer from the center of the plate outward through the two sauces, to create a spider web visual effect.
     Step 2:  Carefully overlap 5 or 6 of the Southern Fried Green Heirloom Amana Tomato Slices across the center of the plate, on top of the two sauces.
     Garnish with mint sprigs.

     Viola!  Gourmet French café style Southern Fried Green Tomatoes! 

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