Monday, 19 October 2009

Pierre Koffmann's Trotter & Hare

This is the iconic dish of Pierre Koffmann, 3 Michelin Star Chef of the 1980's & 90's. Looks revolting, doesn't it? The trotter looks, well, like a pig's trotter, or a peeled puppy lying on its front next to a quenelle of taramasalata. But, the trotter didn't taste doggy (well, I don't think dogs taste of pork) and the pink mash didn't taste fishy. Unappetising appearances aside, the dish was enjoyable though the mash of "Burgundy Potato" (whence the colour) could have been lighter, more buttery and less gloopy. It seemed to have been overworked (with a blender?). Marco Pierre White's homage version at the Hyde Park Hotel back in the early 90's was certainly better and relied on its smoothness by being pushed through a tammy strainer (twice) and containing a ratio of butter to potato of about 1:1 in true 3* Michelin fashion. This trotter was almost completely boned out and contained carefully cooked calf's sweetbreads and the odd tiny morel (adding a contrast of dark colour to the pallid glands rather than much flavour) all set in an eggy mousseline held by the wobbly pig skin.

The puddle in the plate was an (overly) sweet, sticky, old-school reduction. Minimal texture relief was provided by a thin disc of rolled crispy pig's belly.

In all, a good dish if you like plenty of soft, pillowy, marshmallowy sensations on the palate (but watch out for the toe bones).

An altogether more satisfying dish was the one chosen by Abi which was Royale de Lièvre with Buttered Taglietelle. The pasta alone was worth the journey and was silkily soft and, well, pasta-ry, and needed no accompaniment other than the butter. The hare came three ways with a meatloaf slice of confit hare with a nugget of foie gras in the centre, a faggot of shredded leg meat and offal, and a few slices of fried saddle.

The hare could have been gamier but this being a French restaurant the wow factor was provided by elaborate techniques used such as the long slow confit cooking of the meat to produce the succulent 'terrine' where the foie gras in the centre was perfectly cooked, the long slow braising of the leg meat for the faggot which had a tremendous, winey depth of flavour and even the long slow cooking of the almost caramelised, sweet carrots.

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