In this series, columnist Sibylle Eschapasse interviews some of France’s top chefs, the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France.
Name: Marc Bauer
Hometown: Eschentzwiller … yes, it is a town in France!
Occupation: Master Chef, International Culinary Center
Years of Experience With French Cuisine: 30
Maître Cuisinier de France Since: 2004
Sibylle Eschapasse: What does it mean to you to be a Maître Cuisinier de France, a most admired title?
Marc Bauer: We try to adhere to the knowledge we learned in France, and try to spread the respect of the traditions.
Ms. Eschapasse: Why did you choose to become a chef?
Mr. Bauer: I love to eat, and I love flavors that make my heart all fuzzy.
Ms. Eschapasse: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
Mr.Bauer: Probably a pastry chef, but if my mom had not passed on the love of food, I probably would have become an engineer.
Ms. Eschapasse: Who would you consider to be your greatest culinary influence?
Mr. Bauer: Alain Sailhac, André Soltner, and Jacques Pépin.
Ms. Eschapasse: How would you define French cuisine?
Mr. Bauer: Food that is so good and practical, it has a history and has made it through generations.
Ms. Eschapasse: Of France’s many regional cuisines, which do you prefer to cook and why?
Mr. Bauer: Provençal cuisine, because it is delicious and mostly healthy; Alsatian cuisine because it reminds me of my youth.
Ms. Eschapasse: Tell us more about the recipe you chose.
Mr. Bauer: It is a wonderful, earthy dish that one can enjoy in a high-end restaurant or at a family gathering.
You can watch Marc Bauer demonstrate the full recipe on “Celebrity Taste Makers” on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. on Pix11.
Slow Cooked Lamb Shank With Fall Cornucopia of Vegetables
5 to 8 portions
For the Oven-Dried Tomatoes
- 5 Roma tomatoes
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 5 sprigs of rosemary
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Marinade
- 5 pieces lamb shanks
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 13 cloves of garlic
- 8 ounces onions, cut in large pieces
- 8 ounces carrots, cut in large pieces
- 4 bay leaves
- 7 to 10 sprigs thyme, washed, stem on
- 3 to 5 sprigs rosemary, washed, stem on (keep one sprig for garnish)
For Slow Braising the Lamb
- 1 pint brown veal stock
- 1 pound tomatoes, cut in half
For the Vegetable Garnish
- 1 pound carrots
- 1 pound butternut squash
- 1 pound haricots verts
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts
- 1/4 head, or 7 ounces savoy cabbage (about 6 outer leaves)
- 1 1/2 stick butter
To Prepare the Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Heat oven to 250 F. Remove the cores of the Roma tomatoes. Cut in half lengthwise. Place in a bowl, with the minced garlic, oil, and salt. Mix so that the salt and garlic are evenly spread.
Bake tomatoes flat side up in a convection oven at 250 F for about 1 hour. Flip the tomatoes and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour. When the tomato skins look slightly wrinkled, they are ready.
Allow tomatoes to cool and remove the skins in complete pieces. Reserve for garnish.
To Make the Marinade
Remove excess fat from the lamb shanks. Sear the shanks on all sides quickly in a generous amount of oil, then remove from pan and allow to cool. Reserve the oil to brown the aromatics for the sauce.
Cut the garlic cloves lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces. Make incisions every two inches on all sides of the shanks and insert a small piece of garlic into each incision.
In a fry pan, brown in the reserved oil until golden brown, then remove the excess fat.
Flambé the marinade: Remove the pan from the stove top, add the brandy at once, and then expose the pan to an open flame back onto the stove. The small amount of alcohol will burst into flame for a few seconds.
Add the white wine, and let it cool down.
Add the lamb shanks and herbs (be sure to reserve several thyme sprigs for garnish). Place in a nonreactive pan and refrigerate overnight or for up to 48 hours.
To Braise the Lamb
Heat oven to 325 F. Season the lamb shank mixture generously with salt and pepper and add the veal stock. If the stock does not cover the meat, add water until just covered. Bring to a boil, then skim off impurities. Add the cut tomatoes, then cover with lid and bake for 2 hours.
When the meat is tender and comes easily off the bone, while it’s still hot, adjust the seasoning to taste. Take the meat off the bone and place in silicone molds in the shape of half spheres. Pack tight. Refrigerate until needed.
To Make the Sauce
Skim the fat of the cooking liquid by removing the fat that has slowly found its way to the top of the sauce, using a small ladle.
Reduce down to consistency needed; it should have a silky consistency, and slightly coating the back of a wooden spoon or the bottom of a plate. If needed, add a teaspoon of slurry (half corn starch and half water) to thicken as it simmers, and season to taste. Strain and cool down. Degrease one more time once the sauce is cold.
To Make the Vegetable Garnish
Peel and cut the butternut squash (cut the narrow side, without seeds) into strips about 1/2 inch thick and into a shape that can hold one half sphere of lamb. Tip: The rest of the butternut can be used for soup or stuffing.
Cook the squash in a small pan with a little less than 1/2 cup water, and 3 1/2 tablespoons butter. Cook covered for 7 minutes, remove the lid, and cook until the excess water evaporates. Reserve in a warm spot. The butternut squash should be soft but still hold its shape.
Cut the remaining carrots into small “bâtonnets” (sticks), about 3 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Cook in a small pan with a little less than 1/2 cup water and 3 1/2 tablespoons butter. Cook covered for about 7 to 10 minutes, remove the lid and let the excess water evaporate.
Cut the haricots verts into 2-inch long sections. Cook in boiling salted water for about 7 minutes, then chill in an ice bath, drain, and hold (this procedure is called “cooking à l’Anglaise,” or cooking English style). Reheat as needed with butter.
For the savoy cabbage, remove the core, blanch (cook quickly) in a quart of water (with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 cup vinegar) for 2 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Let air cool.
Remove the outermost leaves of the Brussels sprouts, discarding the blemished ones. Pluck the large, light-green outer leaves and set aside. (Save the inner part of the sprouts for another dish.)
Season all garnish vegetables to taste.
For the Presentation
Season the sauce as needed and adjust the consistency.
Unmold the cold lamb, wrap with savoy cabbage, and cut in half. Reheat the lamb in a combi oven or a steam oven until warm.
Plate the green beans and the butternut squash, and each piece of lamb on a piece of squash.
Simmer the Brussels sprouts leaves in boiling water for about a minute, drain on paper towels, and place around the plate.
If you’d like, make the reserved tomato skins into a crispy garnish by deep-frying at 350 F until dry.
Shape the tomatoes into small balls: Place the flesh side of the tomato onto a small piece of cheese cloth or clean towel, bring up the edges of the cloth to encase the tomato in a small “purse,” and twist gently to shape the tomato into a small ball. Arrange on the plates.
Sprinkle the carrots sticks (jardinière) on the sauce. Top each half-sphere of lamb with pieces of tomato skin and a sprig of thyme.
Recipe by Marc Bauer
Sibylle Eschapasse is from Paris and lives in New York City. In addition to working at the United Nations, she contributes to various publications and is the host of “Sibylle’s Top French Chefs,” a series being aired on “Celebrity Taste Makers.” She may be reached at email@example.com