For this mingle I thought it would be absolutely great to have you all over for a wonderful feast to mark this time. So, this is what I’d like you to do – make a traditional dish that you and your family love. Add your special touch – be creative and imaginative but it should represents the festive time of year and the occasion you would be preparing it for (Thanksgiving, Christmas etc.) It can be a soup, side, starter, main or a dessert but it needs to be something special.
For me, the most traditional of festive foods is “Ragoût fin” .
For decades the special meal on Christmas Eve in our family was Ragout Fin, served in puff-pastry shells you can get at a good bakery or in the supermarket. The ragout could be prepared ahead and simply be re-heated in the evening, the puff pastry baking only a few minutes in a hot oven, so a special meal could be on the dinner table in a few minutes.
The traditional ragout fin is made with several veal cuts, among them sweetbreads, but these are hard to obtain nowadays, so I made an all veal-meat version for this event.
- 1000 g veal breast (frikassee), cubed (if you have meat on the bone, get 1.5 kg)
- 1200 ml light veal or chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 50 g butter
- 25 g flour
- 200 ml cream
- 200 g small button mushrooms
- 200 g peas
- 8 puff-pastry shells
- lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
- Worcestershire sauce
- chervil, for decoration
Have your butcher chop the veal breast coarsely. Combine meat, stock and the bay leaf in a pan and let simmer for about 1 hour. skim off foam, if necessary. Strain the stock, and reduce to about 1/2 liter. Meanwhile, de-bone the veal cubes, trim off any fatty parts, and dice.
Make a roux with butter and flour, add the stock, stir, bring to a boil, and add the cream in a slow stream. Let boil for 10-15 minutes, stirring ever now and then. Clean the button mushrooms, quarter them (dice larger ones). Add peas and musrooms to the sauce and let simmer for a few minutes, adjust the taste with lemon juice, sugar, salt & pepper. I like it a little on the tangy side.
When you are ready to serve, finish the puff pastry shells in a hot oven, add the diced veal meat to the sauce, and reheat everything gently. Season again, add a splash of worcestershire or have the sauce ready at the table.
Per serving, fill two pastry shells with the ragout, and spoon some more around the shells. Garnish with chervil sprigs, serve instantly (or the shells will get soggy).