Dear Dorie,

In for a penny, in for a pound! That’s my motto when it comes to cooking from Around My French Table.  And while Sous Chef may grumble about $89 of veal shank for osso buco, $29 per pound chanterelle mushrooms, or the steady outlay of money for an influx of packages containing hard to find items like Jerusalem artichokes, Brocciu cheese, and cannelle molds, your cookbook and recipes have greatly improved my chef skills and allowed me to make restaurant quality dishes at home.

Veal Shanks for Arman's Osso Buco

The infamous $89 Veal Shanks

Two dishes come particularly to mind: osso buco and duck.  I love duck, but until using your 20-Minute Duck Breast recipe I only had it at restaurants.  The idea of cooking something so fatty and messy was not appealing, for so many reasons.  I am notoriously untidy in the kitchen, something Sous Chef admonishes me about all the time.  When he cooks, it’s a kind of prestidigitation.  The knives and spoons and pots and pans seem to disappear right before my very eyes.  When I cook, it is like a warren of rabbits has been uncovered and every cooking utensil has spawned several more of its kind.  So I expected the worst:  duck fat dripping from the walls, sliced fingers from scoring the fat, and implements galore used to cajole, caress, and otherwise handle the duck to make it crispy on the outside but not on the inside.  But your recipe and technique proved me wrong, and now I rarely order duck at a restaurant since I can make it so well at home.

Arman's Osso Buco

After a two-hour sauna the Arman’s Osso Buco is ready to be plated and served

Osso buco is another “restaurant dish” that never before graced the home table. Probably because restaurants promote the idea of how long it takes to prepare and cook, I was disinclined to make the effort at home.  But one bite of osso buco à l’arman reminded me why I’m so devoted to Around My French Table.  Seriously, this is a restaurant quality dish that is easy to prepare and which I can’t wait to serve my guests over the holidays.  The sauce was light, fragrant and flavorful.  I wanted to take that tomato base and make soup from it.  The veal shanks  were infused with flavor and the meat simply fell off the bone.  I think it may be my favorite dish so far among the Around My French Table recipes.

Arman's Osso Buco

Voila! Restaurant quality Arman’s Osso Buco

As I tell Sous Chef: do it right or don’t do it at all (that actually sounds more like him, so I may have my declarant reversed).  But in any event, thank you, Dorie, for making my kitchen a more delectable place.  Can’t wait to see you at Vroman’s in Pasadena next Thursday!


The Culinary Diva

PS: We paired the osso buco à l’arman with two lovely French wines and were divided as to which paired best.  Sous Chef preferred the 2011 Nobles Rives Crozes Hermitage Blanc ($19.99—90 points Wine Advocate) as he felt the veal was light and the wine complimented the flavors without overwhelming them.  This medium-bodied white wine is from 100% Marsanne grapes and is lively and refreshing with good minerality and acid, with notes of flowers and citrus.  I preferred the 2010 Clos Saint Michel Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($39.99—93 points Wine Advocate).  In my opinion, veal is still a red meat and I prefer red wine with red meat.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah, is deep ruby/purple in color, and has notes of berries, lavender, and licorice.  It was a lovely pairing and I’ve been trying to convince Sous Chef to buy a case ever since sipping it.

Arman's Osso Buco

Red and White wine both worked well with Arman’s Osso Buco