Gratinée d’Oignons à la Parisienne Contemporaine

by Christian Le Squer

Christian says ‘When I arrived at Le Cinq, it was very important to me that the menu included Parisian flavours, and some simple classically French dishes elevated to a whole new level using the craftsmanship and ideas that I’ve acquired as a chef. The flavours are still perfect and enjoyed as much as they ever were but, as humans, we evolve and need to be excited – visually, mentally, texturally, in the flavour intensities and combinations…  that’s what I work hard to do when creating my dishes.’

‘This French onion soup is a great example. I took a very famous traditional dish and modernised it. Usually it’s served in a bowl as a liquid but, here at Le Cinq, we serve it on a flat plate. I’ve totally redesigned the way to eat a traditional French dish: it’s still a dish for the poor but now it’s served in a palace.’ 

‘I really love this dish. You can eat it with a spoon because there are delicious little bubbles containing soup extracts so, when you take your spoon, and put the bubbles into your mouth, they explode. All of a sudden you have all of the feelings and all of the flavours you would have in a traditional French onion soup. It really is a really fantastic creation and I’m very proud because, essentially, I’ve successfully brought street food and family food to one of the most beautiful places in Paris.’


Ingredients

Onion stock
1kg Onions, peeled and halved 
3ltr Fresh chicken stock

Beads of sweet onion cream
1kg Sweet onions
400g Cream
200g Onion stock
2% Glucose

Bread croûtons
Crispy cubes of white bread, drizzled with truffle oil and toasted until crunchy; then lightly sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and toasted until the cheese has melted and become crispy. (Tip: If you fancy something different, try making the croûtons with thinly sliced baguette instead.)

Truffle coulis
Water – To taste 
Truffles – To taste

Rosemary and thyme gel
1/2 sprig Thyme
1/2 sprig Rosemary
100g Ice
1 leaf of Gelatine (rehydrated in a little water)

Onion jam
2 Onions, peeled and sliced
Butter
White background

Onion sauce
500g Sweet onions
1ltr Onion stock
Xantana (i.e. gum thickening agent) (Note: You only need to use a very small amount. Read the instructions on the label to see how much to add as different brands may vary.)

Egg bath
500g Water
200g Egg yolk
7.5g Algine

Onion gratín
500g Sweet onions, sliced 
150g Butter
Parmesan – to taste


Method     

To make the onion stock:
1. Put the onions in a vacuum / sous vide with 3ltr of chicken stock. 
2. Steam at 85°C for 48hrs.

To make the onion jam:
1. 
Cut the onions in half and put in a vacuum / sous vide.
2. Then cook them with a little white background and butter until the ingredients start to break down, the ingredients infuse and the jam begins to thicken. 
3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
(Note: The jam will continue to thicken as it cools so allow room for this when cooking the jam. Don’t cook it too much, otherwise it will become too thick.)

To make the rosemary and thyme gel:
1.
 Mix all the ingredients.
2. Pass through a fine sieve and deglaze. (Tip: Apply light pressure to the mixture using a rubber spatula to help push as much as possible through the sieve. This will create a lovely smooth gel.)

To make the beads of sweet onion cream:
1.
 Brown the onions in a roasting pan. 
2. Moisten with some of the onion stock and use to deglaze the pan, incorporating the lovely natural juices and caramelisation that has been released by the onions. 
3. Add the cream and glucose. Mix well to incorporate.
4. Use a small scoop to make different sized balls of the cream and drop them into the egg bath.
5. Lightly burn them using a blowtorch. Add grated Parmesan and burn again.

To make the truffle coulis:
1. 
Place the truffles and water in a saucepan over a medium heat. 
2. Cook for 30mins.
3. Pour the mixture into the Thermomix machine and mix until a coulis forms. (Note: The sauce should be of a creamy consistency.)

To make the onion sauce: 
1.
 Lightly brown the onions in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion stock, then allow the sauce to brown and reduce. 
2. Add Xantana to thicken the sauce. Mix well.
3. Pass through a sieve to form a smooth, silky sauce. 
4. Allow to cool at room temperature.

To cook the egg yolks: 
1. 
Cook the egg yolks in a saucepan over a medium-high heat with the hot water and algine. (Note: Don’t cook them for too long as you still want them to be runny.)
2. Remove from the water and serve.

To make the gratín:
1. 
Massage the onions in butter and confit them without colouring their edges.
2. Prepare a gratín by spreading a very thin layer of the onions in a dish. Grate over some Parmesan cheese and brown using the salamander.
3. Make the same dish au gratín on a plate and colour.

To serve:
1. 
Place the balls of onions covered with gratín and arrange the truffle and Parmesan croûtons. 
2. Artistically position generous drops of the various sauces around the plate; then the truffle coulis, the candied onion petals, and rosemary and thyme gel. (Note: Refer to the photo to see where the gel points are when plating.)
3. Top with the egg yolk and grind over a turn of freshly ground black pepper. 

Serves 4
                                        

Having been awarded an extremely rare and impressive 3 Michelin stars, Christian Le Squer is one of the world’s most prestigious chefs. He is the Executive Chef at Le Cinq restaurant in Paris’ Four Seasons George V hotel. 




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