My Citizens, as noted in my previous post – today we lost one of the great burning lights of culinary authenticity: Anthony Bourdain took his own life whilst in France recording a new episode for his CNN series.
Tony was a tremendous inspiration to me and so many of us with his dry acerbic wit, willingness to push boundaries and to make new friends all over the world.
Anthony Bourdain was born on June 25, 1956, eventually establishing himself as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles.
After his article “Don’t Read Before Eating This” appeared in The New Yorker to raves in 1997, Bourdain moved from one high-profile culinary project to the next, including TV shows A Cook’s Tour and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
He also wrote several books, including Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France on June 8, 2018, from a reported suicide.
Words – for once – fail me.
I can think of no better way to express my admiration for all he gave to the world than by sharing this, one of his great recipes to the world. First perfected at his restaurant Les Halles, I was privileged to try his take on this classic recipe when in NYC.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- For the broth:
- 6 ounces butter
- 8 large onions (or 12 small onions), thinly sliced
- 2 ounces port wine
- 2 ounces balsamic vinegar
- 2 quarts dark chicken stock, or low-sodium chicken or beef broth
- 4 ounces slab bacon, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 bouquet garni
- For the croutons and cheese:
- 16 baguette croutons (sliced and toasted in the oven with a little olive oil)
- 12 ounces grated Gruyère cheese (real, imported Gruyère!)
- In Tony’s own words:
- Special equipment: Make this soup in ovenproof soup crocks.
- A propane torch is a very handy-dandy piece of equipment, especially if your stove is not the greatest. Nearly all professional kitchens have them; they’re not very expensive and they can be used for a variety of sneaky tasks, such as easily caramelizing the top of crème brûlée or toasting meringues.
- Half-assed alternative: Your broiler sucks. Your oven isn’t much better. Can’t find those ovenproof crocks anywhere. And you ain’t ponying up for a damn propane torch, ‘cause your kid’s got pyromaniac tendencies. You can simply toast cheese over the croutons on a sheet pan, and float them as garnish on the soup. Not exactly classic—but still good.
- For the broth:
- In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat until it is melted and begins to brown. Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and browned (about 20 minutes). Onion soup, unsurprisingly, is all about the onions. Make damn sure the onions are a nice, dark, even brown color.
- Increase the heat to medium high and stir in the port wine and the vinegar, scraping all that brown goodness from the bottom of the pot into the liquid. Add the chicken stock. Note that the better and more intense your stock, the better the soup’s going to be. This soup, in particular, is a very good argument for making your own. Add the bacon and the bouquet garni, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, skimming any foam off the top with a ladle. Remove the bouquet garni.
- For the croutons and cheese:
- When the soup is finished cooking, ladle it into the individual crocks. Float two croutons side by side on top of each. Spread a generous, even heaping amount of cheese over the top of the soup. You want some extra to hang over the edges as the crispy, near-burnt stuff that sticks to the outer sides of the crocks is often the best part, once it comes out from under the heat.
- Place each crock under a preheated, rip-roaring broiler until the cheese melts, bubbles, browns, and even scorches slightly in isolated spots. The finished cheese should be a panorama of molten brown hues ranging from golden brown to dark brown to a few blacks spots where the cheese blistered and burned. Serve immediately—and carefully. You don’t know pain until you’ve spilled one of these things.
- If your broiler is too small or too weak to pull this off, you can try it in a preheated 425°F/220°C oven until the cheese is melted. A nice optional move: Once the mound of grated cheese starts to flatten out in the oven, remove each crock and, with a propane torch, blast the cheese until you get the colors you want.
- Calories: 1013.17 kcal
- Sugar: 19.18 g
- Sodium: 1795.44 mg
- Fat: 74.38 g
- Saturated Fat: 42.1 g
- Trans Fat: 1.43 g
- Carbohydrates: 42.92 g
- Fiber: 5.97 g
- Protein: 42.79 g
- Cholesterol: 203.69 mg
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