Wednesday would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday. For this year’s St. Julia’s Day dinner (previous efforts here, here, and here), I wanted to pay tribute to what I used to call “god’s pantry”: her seemingly infinite supply of ingredients that were always on hand in her fridge, freezer, or cabinets. (If you’ve watched more than a few of her shows, you know she stockpiles toasted french bread rounds, egg whites, cheese rinds – anything that could be used as a building block for another dish.) This dinner would have to be assembled from ingredients already at hand – with the exception of fresh vegetables – and would have to be prepared from a Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe.
I had just completed an inventory of the Belm Utility Research Kitchen Deep Storage Facility (archived online to assist with meal planning and shopping) which helped me locate a vacuum-sealed bag of confited goose legs, a Charcutepalooza leftover. I also found a chunk of slab bacon, some whole roasted potatoes (from a recently completed project that will be a future post), and a small container of duck fat.
Since we were having a dinner guest, I assembled a quick appetizer: a “caprese salad” made with diced tomatoes, a scoop each of basil and mozzarella ice cream, and a dusting of olive oil powder (photo above).
I cut the bacon into lardons, crisped them in a pan and used the rendered fat to roast some brussels sprouts. I sliced the potatoes into thick slabs, then used a ring cutter to punch out one inch discs, which were sautéed in the duck fat. The legs received the standard treatment: low heat to warm them up, then a blast of high heat to crisp the skin. In less than an hour we dined on this:
It was a little rich for a summer meal, but, as Her Saintliness is known for saying, “everything in moderation.”
Last week I saw the ultimate gesture of respect just blocks away from Julia’s old home, in front of Savenor’s, her favorite butcher:
I pity the fool who accidentally takes a jackhammer to that autograph.