Lucille (“Lucy”) Vanel provided three of her favorite recipes, with comments on each one.
La Crique Ardechoise
This potato cake is sold hot and ready to eat in individual portions from sellers along Lyon’s Marché de la Croix Rousse. We prepare a huge one with duck fat and serve it family style at the Plum Lyon Teaching Kitchen, a great accompaniment to autumn and winter meat dishes.
4 large potatoes — choose the kind that are best for steaming
1 tablespoon flour
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons parsley, minced fresh leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
(optional: duck fat to replace the butter and olive oil)
1. Prepare: Peel and rinse the potatoes. If using organic potatoes, you don’t have to peel them. Dry them thoroughly. Grate them, roughly. Don’t rinse them, since the starch that is released from the grated potato will give them their good consistency. Place the grated potatoes into a big salad bowl, and add the eggs, the flour, the finely minced garlic, the finely minced parsley and the salt. Fold this all together until well combined (using your hands for this step is most efficient).
2. Cooking: Heat a skillet over medium heat with half the olive oil and the butter (this equals about 4 tablespoons. If you have duck fat on hand, use that instead!). Once the mixture begins to color (in French we call this “noisette”) place the preparation into a pile in the center of the pan. With a spoon, gently flatten the potatoes to form a cake about a half-inch thick. Flattening the mound gently from the center will allow the edges to stay lacy and crispy in the final product. Lower the heat to medium and allow the potatoes to cook through the middle, until the cake browns on the bottom, this should take about 5 minutes.
Flip the cake out of the pan onto a flat lid or plate. Put the remaining four tablespoons combined olive oil and butter (or duck fat) into the empty pan, heat the oil, then return the cake to the pan uncooked side down to continue with the browning process. Turn onto a serving platter and serve in slices when the second side is crispy and brown.
3. Note: Do not grate the potatoes in advance. Instead grate them just before using them to avoid them turning gray.
Crispy Skinned Magret de Canard (Duck Breast)
2 duck breasts, fatty skin still attached
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp smoked paprika, mild
2 to 5 sprigs fresh herbs in season, leaves and flowers only (at Plum we seek out lovage from the farmer’s baskets, but any aromatic herb like thyme, rosemary or oregano does well)
Method: Score the skin of the duck breast in a criss-cross across the entire surface, cutting into the fatty layer. Make sure to score only into the fatty skin and not make scores so deep that they penetrate into the meat. This is to allow the fat to render more efficiently.
Place the salt, pepper, smoked paprika and fresh herbs into a mortar and pestle and crush until the leaves are completely crushed and the mixture is homogenous. Rub the seasonings into the scored skin of the duck breast.
Place the duck breasts skin side down in a pan with room to breathe over medium heat. When the skin starts to sizzle, lower the heat to medium low and slowly render the fat from the duck breast. As the fat slowly renders from the duck breast, you can pour it off and use it, for example to cook potatoes to accompany the duck. The process should take 10 to 15 minutes. If the skin is browning quickly, lower the heat to try and prolong the rendering process, it will render more fat and result in a crispier skin.
When the fatty layer has been largely rendered from the skin, leaving a golden brown crispy crust, transfer the duck breasts onto a baking sheet skin side down and place the uncooked side 3 inches from the heat of the oven broiler. Broil for 3 only minutes, until the meat is slightly springy to the touch. After removing from the broiler, the duck will continue to cook in its residual heat. Be careful not to overcook the duck breast, which would alter the texture and flavor of the meat. The final result should be pink and rare inside.
When the duck breasts have been cooked, place them to rest five minutes before slicing thin and serving rare with a potato based accompaniment.
Salade au Chevre Chaud
(Lyonnais Café Style Goat Cheese Salad)
4 ounces goat cheese, (measured by weight, not volume)
8 slices baguette style bread, ½ inch thick rounds
4 sprigs fresh herbs in season, any fresh herb will do, but at Plum Lyon Teaching Kitchen we use a fine herbs mix: parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil
1 tablespoon fresh walnut oil
2 tablespoons neutral oil, sunflower or colza are both good choices
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon simple kitchen vinegar, cider, white distilled, sherry, red wine or white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon strong prepared dijon mustard
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, (can be replaced with 6 brined green peppercorns if desired)
1 small shallot, finely minced
4 large handfuls tender mixed salad greens
Method: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the eight baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush each slice with just a few drops of olive oil. Lightly sprinkle each slice with minced fresh herbs. Divide the goat cheese into 8 equal parts, arrange on the seasoned baguette slices. Bake for five to seven minutes, until the goat cheese is hot and the baguette is beginning to brown around the edges.
While the goat cheese toasts are baking, combine the remaining oils together in a large salad bowl. Add the salt and Dijon mustard and whisk to combine. Add the vinegar, pepper, and finely minced shallot, whisking to make a salad dressing that slightly thickens.
Add the salad greens and any remaining minced herbs to the large bowl with the salad dressing, tossing to thoroughly coat, then divide into individual serving bowls. Arrange two hot goat cheese toasts on top of each salad grind hot pepper over each salad, and serve immediately.