Monday, July 26, 2010

"Everyone Eats Well In Belgium Cookbook" - Belgian Waterzooi of Scallops (Scallop Stew) and French Poached Chicken with Vegetables

Date I made these recipes: July 25, 2010

Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek
Published by: Workman Publishing
ISBN: 1-56305-411-6
Recipe: Aunt Lucette’s Waterzooi of Scallops (Scallop Stew) – p. 96 -97

Clementine in the Kitchen by Samuel Chamberlain
Published by: David R. Godine, Publisher
© 1943; revised edition © 1988
Recipe: Poached Chicken with Vegetables – p. 187

So today endeth the annual Tour de France, the bicycle race that starts in Belgium and ends in Paris, and my husband is most bereft. Unlike me, the man loves to bike, often putting in 25 miles or more per day. And while he never pretends to be Lance Armstrong (or Alberto Contador or Andy Schleck or Alessandro Petacchi…or even Mark Cavendish, also known as the Manx Missile) he does enjoy watching these up and comers slug it out to win the yellow jersey (indicating the leader) for the final time.

After today’s contest was over and Contador won it all by a very controversial 39 seconds over Andy Schleck (you had to be there), Andy looked at the TV screen and said what many of us said after the Olympics were over: “Now what do I do?” Because, trust me, these races are addictive.

Every day for two weeks he’d come home from work and tune in on the tour. And every weekend, my man, who starts work at 6 a.m., would bypass sleeping in late in order to get up at dawn-o-clock to watch the race. Short of being there, you couldn’t ask for a more devoted fan.

So to cheer the guy up, I cooked him some Belgian food and some French food in honor of the race.

Although we’ve been to Europe, we’ve never been to Belgium and that is something we need to address in short order. Belgium is known for their mussels, their endive and their beer (and no doubt you can find a recipe incorporating all three). Oh, and chocolate - lots and lots of chocolate. But I went with this stew called “waterzooi” because there were three recipes for it in my cookbook and it seemed very traditional. If this were the tour, this dish would be wearing the yellow jersey, it was that fantastic.

And the French dish was good although it proved to be Andy Schleck (who took 2nd place) rather than winner Alberto Contador—tasty but 39 seconds behind. The cookbook, though, is an interesting read as it tells the story of the Chamberlain family who lived in pre-WWII France and employed their darling Clementine to cook for them. The first part of the book is the story, the second part, the recipes.

As to the recipes, it didn’t dawn on me until I started shopping for the ingredients that these were basically the same dish with only slight variations. The waterzooi had cream in the sauce, the poached chicken had butter. Both used the same vegetables and both used protein but in the end, the scallops (cooked to perfection if I do say so myself) won the day.

So for all you tour fans, make these dishes and you’ll feel better about it having come to an end. And then get on that bike while the getting is good and pretend you are Alberto Contador and bike away your troubles. And dream of Belgium and France and next year’s tour.

Aunt Lucette’s Waterzooi of Scallops – serves 4 (we halved the recipe)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed well and cut into matchstick-size strips
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-size strips
3 ribs celery, cut into matchstick-size strips
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or large pinch dried thyme
½ cup water
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 ½ pounds scallops (4-6 large sea scallops or 6-8 bay scallops)

A couple of notes: we had leftover champagne and used that instead of wine and it was yummy. I’d also recommend halving your leek matchsticks because they were a little hard to eat (the carrots and celery were fine).

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat until it foams. Add the shallots, garlic, leeks, carrots and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened slightly but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the bay leaves, thyme, water and wine. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. (Note: I was worried that what little liquid there was would evaporate but this was not the case.). Stir in the cream and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (You can prepare the dish in advance up to this point).

Just before serving, reheat the broth and vegetables to a simmer and add the scallops. Poach at a simmer, uncovered, until the scallops turn opaque, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops. (I’d say I went about 2.5 minutes before removing the pot from the stove and transferring the dish to a bowl to prevent overcooking). Do not overcook or let the liquid come to a boil as it will overcook the scallops. Serve immediately in soup dishes, sprinkling each with the remaining parsley.

Poached Chicken with Vegetables – serves 3 or 4
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 3-pound chicken (Note: the recipe called for a whole chicken but we used a 3-pound already-cut up chicken)
2 carrots
2 turnips
2 celery stalks
4 leeks
2 slices bacon or 1 cube lean bacon
Pinch of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of parsley
2 tablespoons of creamed unsalted butter (for sauce)

Heat 2 quarts of chicken stock with 2 carrots, cut into pieces, 2 small white turnips, quartered, 2 stalks of celery, cut into pieces, 4 leeks with most of their green tops cut off, a cube of lean bacon 1 inch square (or two slices), a pinch of thyme, 1 bay leaf, and 2 sprigs of parsley. Simmer this court-bouillon for 10 minutes, then added a trussed 3-pound chicken.

Simmer the chicken, covered, for 20 minutes after the stock comes back to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the chicken stand and continue to poach in the hot stock for 20 minutes. Remove it to a hot platter, carve it, pour a little of the stock over it so it will not dry out, and keep it warm. The vegetables should be tender by this time, but if they are not, continue cooking them while you make the sauce.

In a small saucepan, over a brisk fire, reduce 1 ¼ cups of stock to ¾ cup. Taste it for seasoning and whip in 2 tablespoons of creamed unsalted butter in the last minute, off the fire. Serve the chicken surrounded by the vegetables and pass the sauce separately.

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