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Top Pick Of The Week

April 29, 2008

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Poached Lobster - Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller’s poached lobster, on a bed of orzo in tarragon-infused lobster sauce, brings haute cuisine to your dining table. It’s one of four frozen entrées prepared by great chefs, ready for you to heat and eat.

WHAT IT IS: Dinner entrées prepared from the recipes of Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Mark Miller and Charlie Trotter.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: The quality is amazing. We can’t even buy meat this good to cook for ourselves.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Just add the vegetables and candlelight, and BYO great wine.
WHERE TO BUY IT: MackenzieLtd.com
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Fiveleaf Gourmet Entrées: Great Chefs Cook For You

CAPSULE REPORT: Hankering for a really great dinner? Daniel Boulud, from New York City’s Restaurant Daniel, will serve you his melt-in-your-mouth braised short ribs in a red wine sauce. You might not be able to score a reservation at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Napa Valley, but you can dine on his poached lobster on orzo, with a lobster sauce made with mascarpone cheese, any time you wish. Mark Miller of Santa Fe’s Coyote Café suggests barbeque pork ribs in a tamarind sauce. Chicago’s Charlie Trotter has prepared lamb top sirloin in an apricot sauce that is, quite simply, better than any lamb we could buy (or prepare).

These frozen entrées, prepared with the sous vide technique, have been available for some time for foodservice (restaurants, caterers, fine hotels), and are now available to you. They truly bring a top restaurant experience to your own dining room. If you’re a collector of fine wines who wants something worthy to eat whenever you feel like popping a cork, here they are. If you like to eat great food at home but can’t cook, or don’t have time, ditto. If you want to enjoy that special evening without spending half of it in the kitchen, here’s your entrée. If you can’t be there in person to take friends or family to a fine dinner, send the dinner to them.

Read more about why these entrées make dining at home memorable—and see photos of the other delicious dishes—in the full review below.

     
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Cook With The Fiveleaf Chefs

Braise by Daniel Boulud The Complete Thomas Keller Charlie Trotter's Meat & Game
Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine, by Daniel Boulud. Want to learn how to make those exquisite short ribs? Braise along with the master, with this versatile cooking technique. Click here for more information or to purchase.
The Complete Keller: The French Laundry Cookbook & Bouchon, by Thomas Keller. From haute cuisine at French Laundry, to casual gourmet (still pretty fancy) at Bouchon. Click here for more information or to purchase.
Charlie Trotter's Meat and Game,
by Charlie Trotter et al. The lamb sirloin Fiveleaf entrée is heavenly. Now, try the rest of Charlie Trotter’s meat and game repertoire. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Fiveleaf Gourmet Entrées: Great Chefs Cook For You

INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

Introduction

Here’s an industry secret: Some of that incredible food you get at restaurants was actually made elsewhere. Some restaurants and hotels might heat up and serve a frozen gourmet meal. It shouldn’t make any difference to you, as long as the food tastes great. And the frozen entrées in Fiveleaf series by Cuisine Solutions are certainly in the category of glorious gastronomy. They have a slight edge, you see. The recipes come from some of the country’s greatest chefs. And they use the technique of sous-vide (pronounced sue-veed).

Sous-vide is French for “under vacuum,” a method of poaching in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag, that allows the food to retain incredible moisture, while herbs and other flavorings are beautifully imbued into it through the vacuum process. Only the finest ingredients can be used because the process intensifies flavors. The food cooks in its own juices, preserving some nutritional elements and making everything extremely tender. And because sous-vide uses a low cooking temperature, there is little or no shrinkage, which means diners enjoy a larger portion.

The technique was developed by French chef Georges Pralus in the 1970s for the three-star Restaurant Troisgros in Roanne, France. He was tasked with finding a way to prepare foie gras with less shrinkage. The ingredients are cooked for a long time at low temperatures (around 140°F). Chemist Bruno Goussault advanced the sous-vide technique and became well known for training top chefs (including the Fiveleaf chefs) in sous-vide cooking. Following Michel and Pierre Troisgros, Joël Robuchon was the next great chef to embrace the technique; Paul Bocuse became a convert as well. Today, great chefs around the world use the technique for cooking everything from foie gras to chicken. (A sous-vide chicken, butter-poached by Dan Barber at Blue Hill in New York City, remains the most delectable piece of chicken in our memory.)

Goussault is also chief scientist of Cuisine Solutions, the producers of the Fiveleaf entrées and other lines made specifically for restaurants and foodservice. No one can detect that the food has been frozen. But not everyone who cooks sous-vide can make such great frozen food: The cooling process is as important as the cooking process. The cooked foods, still vacuum sealed, are pre-chilled prior to freezing. The result truly replicates the fine dining experience (and leads us to wonder if, in fact, a month’s worth of sous-vide and frozen entrées can be “put up,” so the executive chef can go on vacation, attend a conference or spend less time in the kitchen, without diminution of the dining experience).

Fiveleaf delivers only the splendid entrées: The first course, sides and desserts are up to you. But the entrées are so good, they’ll make anything you pair with them taste great by association. But for fun—the fun of putting together simply wonderful meals—we looked at other Top Picks Of The Week (and a few regular reviews) to make recommendations for first courses, sides and desserts. Bon appetit!

Barbeque Ribs In Tamarind Sauce By Mark Miller

Everyone passing through Santa Fe makes a beeline for the Coyote Café. These ribs are bathed in a spicy sauce and cooked until they fall off the bone—no knife is needed. They offer a subtle smokiness, the notes of sweet tamarind, the soft heat of chiles and roasted garlic. While you can send them as a gift to your favorite rib fan, and many people will love them, they were the one of the four entrées that we didn’t flip for. The aroma and sauce were great but the pork ribs themselves, while very succulent, didn’t have the memorable flavor of the other meats in this series. We made them in both cooking preparations—boiled (preferred) and baked.

First Course

Sides

Wine

  • Shiraz
  • Zinfandel

Dessert

Baby Back Ribs
Serve these tender baby back ribs in tamarind sauce with sides of rice and a corn kernel mix. The sides are easy-to-make and the ribs remain the star.

 

Braised Short Ribs - Daniel Boulud
These braised short ribs are so tender, and the red wine sauce so luscious, as to be seriously addictive.

Braised Short Ribs By Daniel Boulud

Tender beef ribs are marinated in a hearty red wine sauce and braised until they are so perfectly cooked, they melt in your mouth. These short ribs are exceedingly tender with a deep, beefy flavor. We could eat them every day. Serve them with:

First Course

Sides

  • Jasmine rice or orzo
    (see our Rice Glossary to learn about the
    different varieties of rice)
  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Fresh rosemary to garnish

Wine

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Red Burgundy

Dessert

Lamb Top Sirloin

This succulent New Zealand lamb uses the most premium cut, from the top sirloin. The lamb sirloin is braised in a rich red wine sauce with large pieces of sweet organic apricots. The sauce is lightly peppery; if you don’t like pepper, serve the sauce on the side and the lamb is still divine. In New Zealand and other U.K. countries, lamb top sirloin is called chump. It gives pause as to why such a splendid cut of meat has such a name (see our Lamb Glossary for more information). This was one of the best pieces of lamb we’ve had in memory—with the texture of a filet mignon and elegant lamb flavor. Serve with:

First Course

Sides

  • Roasted potatoes
  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Fresh rosemary or thyme to garnish

Wine

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Red Burgundy

Dessert

Lamb Sirloin - Cuisine Solutions
The most delicious lamb in recent memory. (To learn more about lamb, read our Lamb Glossary.)

Poached Lobster With Orzo And Lobster Sauce By Thomas Keller

Lobster Mac & Cheese
Thomas Keller’s orzo is smooth-as-silk. Topped with a poached lobster tail, in a luscious lobster sauce, we could eat one of these every day.

One of the toughest reservations to come by is at the French Laundry in Yountville, California. Many foodies visit the Napa Valley hoping for a table at this not-very-large restaurant, where Thomas Keller has been creating innovative dishes for 20 years. Here, he creates upscale comfort food: orzo pasta in a creamy lobster-mascarpone sauce topped with a poached lobster tail. The flavor of resh tarragon is infused throughout. The richness and flavor will become a permanent memory. This entree requires no oven: the orzo, sauce and lobster are boiled in three separate bags, then assembled. Tip: Don’t throw out the poaching liquid in the lobster pouch. Serve it in a shot glass along with the dish.

First Course

Side

  • Baby lettuces in a Sherry or Champagne
    vinegar vinaigrette
  • Fresh tarragon or sage to garnish

Wine

  • California Chardonnay
  • White Burgundy

Dessert

Whether you set the table with your finest china and crystal, or gather the family in front of the plasma screen, you’ll hear a resounding chorus of, “This is delicious! Can we have it again tomorrow?”

— Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves fine dining, and wants to have more of it at home.

CUISINE SOLUTIONS
Fiveleaf Gourmet Entrées

  • Tamarind Barbeque Ribs
    by Mark Miller
    Four 14-Ounce Servings
    $59.95
  • Braised Short Ribs
    by Daniel Boulud
    Four 10-Ounce Servings
    $59.95
  • Lamb Top Sirloin
    by Charlie Trotter
    Four 7-Ounce Servings
    $47.95
  • Poached Lobster & Orzo
    by Thomas Keller
    Two 8-Ounce Servings
    $67.95

Purchase online* at
MackenzieLtd.com

Or telephone 1.843.577.1198,
Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Eastern Time.

Cuisine Solutions
Order everything—you’ll love them!

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. THE NIBBLE does not sell products; these items are offered by a third party with whom we have no relationship. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.



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