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Absinthe in the Kitchen

Absinthe in the Kitchen

Absinthe, with its complex herbal aromas, has always had a place in cooking. Here we see chef Hugues Droz - the youngest French chef ever awarded a Michelin star (left) and owner/chef of the hotel and restaurant Le France in Villers-le-Lac in the French Jura region, with a plate of escargots infused with Jade absinthe sauce.

This scene took place in the kitchen of l'Absinthe, a charming restaurant owned by brother Nicolas Droz, and located a short boat-ride down the Doubs River from Hugues. Assisting is none other than Kevin Brauch, Fine Living Channel's 'The Thirsty Traveler' for the episode 'The Green Fairy,' which has been aired several times since mid-November 2004.

l'escargots avec l'absinthe

Many dishes can be seasoned with dried absinthe leaves: meats and stuffings, fish, oysters, escargot, omelets and cheeses. Daniel Gélin states in 'Point de Vue, Images du Monde': "The taste of fresh leaves is too bitter to add to cooking juices. But, with it one can obtain very original scents when slow cooking certain meats: pork belly, shoulder of mouton, wild duck". A native of Pontarlier has affirmed that a dash of absinthe leaves added to lamb is as "the fierce marrying harmoniously with the gentle". In Catalonia, paellas are sometimes spiced with wormwood.

Hugues Droz (seen above - left), the youngest French chef ever awarded a Michelin star and owner/chef of the hotel and restaurant Le France in Villers-le-Lac in the French Jura region, concurs that one can use absinthe leaves for "adding perfume to stuffings". He is putting the final touches on a plate of escargots topped with Jade absinthe-infused sauce. The scene above took place in the kitchen of l'Absinthe, a charming restaurant owned by his brother Nicolas Droz, and located a short boat-ride down the Doubs River from Hugues' establishment. Assisting is none other than Kevin Brauch, Fine Living Channel's host of 'The Thirsty Traveler' filming the absinthe episode 'The Green Fairy,' which has been continuously aired since its release in mid-November 2004.

See our News and Reviews section.
Information on The Thirsty Traveler absinthe episode "The Green Fairy"

Oysters Rockefeller

This is the classic absinthe recipe, invented in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of Antoine Alciatore, the eponymous founder of Antoine’s in New Orleans. This popular dish was reportedly named for John D. Rockefeller because it's so rich!

2 dozen oysters on the half shell, drained
4 pans rock salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup finely chopped cooked spinach
6 Tbsp. very finely chopped watercress leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh scallion tops
2 Tbsp. finely chopped celery
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. ground anise seed
1/4 cup absinthe

Combine all ingredients (for sauce) in a stainless steel or porcelain bowl and cream with a wooden spoon. Complete mixing with a whisk or blender at medium speed. Shape sauce into oval patties about 2.5 x 2 inches and 0.5 inches thick by scooping about two Tbsp. of sauce from bowl and pressing it into your palm. Set on a platter and refrigerate while you prepare the oysters for baking.

Preheat the oven to 260 C (500F regulo 8). Wash the oyster shells thoroughly and dry. Place a drained oyster on each shell and set them 6 to a pan on the rock salt. Cover each oyster with a patty of sauce and bake 14-16 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and is lightly browned on top. Allow to cool 3-6 minutes before serving.

Garlic and Absinthe butter

A classic 'beurre d'escargot' used for stuffing snails...impossible to resist dipping your baguette into the sauce after the snails are gone!

50 g butter
2 g shallots
3 g de garlic
5 g de parsley
0.6 g de salt
0.3 g de pepper
1 dash of absinthe
1 dozen prepared snails

Leave the butter at least 1 hour to soften. Chop the garlic and parsley finely together then chop the shallots, add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the butter then the absinthe until homogeneous to obtain a paste. This butter is traditionally used to cover snails in their shells before cooking. Lay the snails in their shells on an oven dish, taking care to place the opening of the shells upwards. Place in a hot oven, (250 C; 500 F; regulo 8) for 5 to 10 minutes. The snails must be very hot, and are ready when the butter starts to foam on the surface of the shells, do not cook any longer or the butter will burn.

Sorbet à l'absinthe

Sorbet à l'absinthe was used as 'refresher' course during an 1889 dinner in honor of Gustave Eiffel's new tower.

50 cl water
300 g sugar
Juice of one orange and one lemon
20 g fresh absinthe leaves
10 cl absinthe

Blend 25 cl water and the sugar over a low flame for 10 minutes. Infuse
the absinthe leaves in the syrup. Cool, remove the leaves and add the orange and lemon juice, and the remaining 25 cl of water. Freeze. Before serving, add the absinthe.

Soufflé glacé à l'absinthe

3 whole eggs
75 g sugar
10 cl absinthe
1 packet vanilla sugar
25 cl crème fraîche (or whipping cream)

Beat the yolks for 5 minutes until it foams. Add the absinthe.
In a second bowl, whip the cream. Combine the two. Beat the egg whites separately, while adding the sugar. Combine the two preparations. Line a mold with wax paper extending over the edges. Pour final mixture into mold and freeze for at least six hours. Remove from the mold before serving.


Absinthe Dinner at La Licorne, in Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, France.

Restaurant La Licorne, (one star - Michelin Guide) is a romantic, gastromic restaurant in a beautiful Loire Valley village, owned by the highly esteemed and passionate chef Fabrice Bretel. All attention is placed on only the best and freshest ingredients.
Allée Sainte Catherine
49590 FONTEVRAUD-L'ABBAYE (near Saumur and the Combier Distillery)
Tel. +33 (0)2 41 51 72 49

The following images are of an exceptional meal based on two absinthes as ingredients, Jade Nouvelle-Orléans and Combier Blanchette; the menu was conceived and executed by chef Fabrice Bretel on October 5th 2006, with less than 24 hours notice, an amazingly creative feat for a birthday feast, but maybe you could convince him to do it for you...We'll certainly be asking for it again!
entre

entre

foie gras with a blanket of Combier Blanchette absinthe-infused velouté
second entre

second entre

escargots cooked in a crust (cromesqui), with Jade Absinthe Nouvelle-Orléans-infused sauce and Blanchette beure blanc
plate

plate

roasted monkfish with wild mushrooms and a Nouvelle-Orléans sauce, confit of fennel infused with Blanchette
dessert

dessert

Blanchette soufflé (which exhaled vapors of fresh wormwood when pierced) with a side cup of strawberries and spices poached in Nouvelle-Orléans...
with a meal like this, who cares about the other two stars?

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