Yerp: Part 3 – Cooking Dinner for More Than a Dozen People.

May 14, 2011

Alright. Second morning waking up in Yerp. At the crack of dawn. Before everyone else. Again.

My head hurt, though. No idea why.

This is the night on which I have committed to prepare dinner for The Group. Part my thank you and part me being a show off. I hate me.

So we were off to the Les Halles Market in Narbonne to select my booty. I adore this market. It’s also France’s oldest indoor food market opening its doors in 1901. #funfact

Fun things from the market.

I hadn’t really thoroughly conceived of what I wanted to prepare. Or how. So I was a little frantic at the market. Oh, and I don’t speak a lick of French - except vas-y mollo, which is not tremendously helpful while figuring out how to buy enough fava beans to create a puree that feeds twelve plus, folks. Or really helpful at all, for that matter. 

Emma helped some until she spotted The Group having wine and tapas at one of the stands. Then Dad jumped in to help me figure out my meat purchase. Which involved math. In French. I was STRESSING. But we ended up finding a gorgeous pork loin roast.

Stressing at the market (photo courtesy of Dale).

And then I joined The Group for a bite and a glass of wine before heading back to Armissan to prep.

The menu that I settled on went like this:

Champagne, olives and charcuterie

Salad of Greens from the Garden (with Jean-Jacques awesome dressing and which Dale assembled)
Roast Pork Loin Stuffed with Spinach, Fresh Herbs and Garlic with Pan Sauce Reduction and Fava Bean Puree
Potato and Artichoke Hash
Sauteed Chanterelles in Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Cheese Plate

Thumb Wrestling

Dad, sassing back about "the fava bean situation".

I put Dad and Emma on fava bean duty: a chore I doubt either of them will ever embark on again voluntarily. I don’t think Dad was wild about dealing with the artichokes either. But I gotta give the guy props - he actually helped me in every arena of this meal, including the keeping-me-calm arena. You see, I had never cooked a formal meal for this many people before. This past Thanksgiving, yes. Hell, I made enough food for greater Los Angeles that day. But I was cooking for days and it all came out staggered. Food just continued to pour out of the kitchen all day and night. It was buffet style.

Cocktail hour (top photo courtesy of Dale)

Salad (photo courtesy of Emma)

With the exception of the artichokes still having a few of the sinewy leaves here and there in the hash, I think the meal was a hit. I was proud of it.

I hope The Group liked it.

Thumb Wrestling (top photo courtesy of Emma)

I believe Emma and I capped off this evening with a bottle or two more bottles of wine while laying in our beds, sighing, giggling, and taking stock of the last twenty-four thirty-six hours, the whirlwind, of our adventure.

Notice a pattern?

The artichoke-potato hash that I prepared was inspired by Suzanne Goin’s (imagine that). I have the recipe for you here:

Artichoke-Potato Hash

Serves a mere 6...

12 baby artichokes
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of thyme
2/3 cup sliced shallots
2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the hash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the artichokes.  Cut off the top third of the artichokes and remove the tough outer leaves.  Using a vegetable peeler, trim the bottom of the stem and the stalks.  Cut each artichoke in half and using a small spoon, remove the fuzzy choke if there one.  As you work, immerse the artichokes in a large bowl of cold water and the juice of 1 or 2 lemons, so they do not discolor.  Be sure to drain and dry them well before cooking.

Heat a large saute pan (we used two), over high heat for 2 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of oil to the pan and then wait for 1 minute.  Add the artichokes and season with 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a grinding of pepper.  Turn the heat to medium and saute for about 10 minutes tossing often, until the artichokes are golden brown. 

Remove the artichokes from the heat and after they've cooled a little, cut them into large chunks.  Once the potatoes have cooled, cut them into large chunks and squeeze the roasted garlic from their skins and set aside.

Wipe out the pan the artichokes were sauteed in and return it to the stove and heat it over high heat for 2 minutes.  Swirl in 1/4 cup of oil and wait a minute.  Add the potatoes to the pan and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper.  To get the potatoes nicely browned and crisp on the outside, do not overcrowd them in the pan.  We used two pans.  Don't be temped to stir the potatoes too much, that will prevent them from getting the good brown crust.  It should take 6 to 8 minutes to get a good crust on one side.  Stir the potatoes and continue to cook until they are browned all over.

Once the potatoes are golden brown on all sides, turn the heat down to medium and add the shallots, artichokes, and roasted garlic.  Toss well and sautée the hash together for 5 to 6 minutes until the artichokes are hot and the shallots are translucent. 

Toss in the chopped parsley and squeeze a bit of lemon just before serving. 

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