This three-part 19th century dinner, which started last week, reflects the new Classic French cuisine. This era in culinary history became popular as the Napoleonic age followed the French Revolution. Then self-made men, following the example of Napoleon, rose in status and wealth. They had to learn the ways of entertaining, or how to be amphitryons (hosts).
Cook books of the time reflected this non-aristocratic class’ needs, by giving such directions. A forty-year lapse in the publication of cooking instructions, of any sort, existed prior to the beginning of this period. One important recipe book, with the dawning of this new day, was Le Cuisinier, by A. Viard; it was published during the entire nineteenth century; its name, however, changed with each fresh political upheaval.
First printed in 1806, Le Cuisinier Imperial was named after the Emperor who loved classicism; Napoleon’s strong passion gave this new style of cooking its name Classic French cuisine.
The book’s title changed to Le Cuisinier Royal, when Louis XVIII became king in 1814. Other name conversions reflected the politics of the century: it became Le Cuisinier National, at the time Louis Napoleon was elected President of the Republic; then, it went back to employing “Imperial”, when this man declared himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852. The cook book was known by Le Cuisinier National once again, when France became a republic in 1871; it has remained such; thus, this recipe for buttered carrots, taken from these pages, dates back two centuries.
In 1964, Esther Aresty documented the history of European and American cuisine in her account The Delectable Past, from which I got my above information. Here she improved on this delicious recipe from Le Cuisinier by pureeing this vegetable in a food mill. I have augmented her outstanding method with easy, modernized, 21st century steps, utilizing a food processor.
You’ll be immensely pleased with this memorable dish; a comfort food of all comfort foods!
Carrots au Beurre Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964). Yields 4 servings. Total prep time: 50 min./ active prep time: 20 min./ cooking time: 45 min. Note: may make this the day before, as flavors are better the second day; double recipe for great leftovers.
½ cup pecan pieces
1 pound carrots (Organic carrots are very inexpensive.)
2 cups green beans (Use either fresh or frozen; excellent French-cut beans are available in Trader Joe’s freezer.)
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket.)
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
Butter or coconut spray (Needed for oiling pan, if making ahead and refrigerating.)
- Preheat oven to 265 degrees. Roast pecans on a small cookie sheet for about 40 minutes, or until light brown, when piece is broken; set aside.
- Spray carrots with 97% distilled white vinegar mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide, an inexpensive effective produce spray; let sit three minutes; rinse thoroughly; scrape with a sharp knife (scraping, as opposed to peeling, saves the vitamins which are just under the skin). Cut into 1 inch pieces; if the carrot piece is thick, cut it in half.
- Cover cut vegetable with water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium/high heat, lower heat to medium, and cook until soft.
- Meantime steam green beans in a medium saucepan. (If you are making carrots ahead, prepare green beans during last half hour of the reheating of carrot dish in oven.)
- Place the hot, drained, soft carrots in a food processor; add cream, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; blend until carrots are a smooth mixture, stopping once to scrape down sides. Adjust seasonings to taste. (IF preparing ahead, butter a baking dish large enough to hold recipe; then, place pureed vegetable in it; cover well with tin foil; refrigerate; reheat in 350 degree oven 1 1/2 hours before serving.)
- Place hot pureed carrots in the center of a vegetable platter, surround with green beans, and top with roasted pecans.