1950s Archive

Noël à la Ritz

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Chestnut purée naturally goes with truffled birds; the corn fritters we served at the Ritz were an American innovation, as was the cranberry sauce.

Purée de Marrons (Chestnut Purée)

Force baked chestnuts through a fine sieve or purée them in an electric blender, and to each cup purée add 1 tablespoon each of butter and cream. Reheat the purée and correct the seasoning with salt.

Beignets de Maïs (Corn Fritters)

Bring to a boil 1 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 cup butter. Add 1 cup flour, all at once, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture rolls away from the sides of the pan in a ball. Remove the pan from the heat, cool the batter a little, and beat in 4 eggs, one at a time. Add 1 cup well drained cooked corn. Slip the mixture by spoonfuls into hot deep fat (375°F) and cook the fritters until they are well puffed and brown on both sides. They will turn over themselves as they cook. Drain on paper towels and serve very hot.

When our guests wanted venison at Christmas time, they were likely to order a roast saddle, which we served with sauce poivrade.

Selle de Chevreuil Rôti (Roast Saddle of Venison)

Remove both skins and all sinews from a 5- to 6-pound saddle of venison. Combine in a saucepan 1 quart water, 1 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 onion, chopped, 1 carrot, sliced, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2 bay leaves, 4 sprigs of parsley, 12 to 15 peppercorns, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it slowly for 1 hour. Cool the marinade and pour it over the venison in a deep bowl. Store the meat in the refrigerator, turning it frequently so that the marinade will penetrate all surfaces. Remove the venison from the marinade, dry it thoroughly, and lard the top with narrow strips of fat salt pork. Season with salt and cover with slices of fat salt pork. Put enough fat or oil in a roasting pan to allow generous basting and roast the meat in a very hot oven (450°F), basting it frequently, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The meat should be rare, and the exact time depends upon the size of the animal from which the saddle came and the thickness of the cut. Remove the slices of fat salt pork and spread the meat with a little glace de viande or concentrated meat extract. Serve with sauce poivrade and chestnut purée.

Poivrade Sauce for Venison

After removing the venison from the roasting pan, pour off the accumulated fat. To the pan add 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon chopped shallot or onion, 1 1/2 cups sauce espagnole (November, 1956), 2 sprigs of parsley, 1 small bay leaf, a pinch of thyme, and 1 cup stock. Cook the sauce slowly until it is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. In another pan, cook 1 cup red wine with 8 or 10 crushed peppercorns until the wine is reduced to 1/3 cup. Add the sauce from the roasting pan and cook slowly for 25 minutes, skimming as necessary. Correct the seasoning with salt, add 2 tablespoons red currant jelly, and strain through a fine sieve.

An English plum pudding was always part of our Christmas menu.

Christmas Plum Pudding

Mix together 2 cups finely chopped beef kidney suet, 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 1 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour mixed with 1 teaspoon mixed ground spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, and very little clove) and a pinch of salt, 5 ounces each of Malaga raisins, sultana raisins, and currants, 3 ounces finely chopped mixed lemon and citron peel, 2 ounces blanched almonds, the grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, and 3 lightly beaten eggs. Add 3/4 cup each of ale and stout and 1 1/2 cups each of rum and brandy. Fill a pudding bowl two-thirds full and tie a muslin cloth over the top, or use a metal pudding mold fitted with a cover. Put the mold on a rack in a kettle, in water that comes one-third the way up the mold. Bring the water to a boil, cover the kettle very closely to hold in the steam, and steam the pudding for 3 hours. Add boiling water as necessary. Store the pudding in a cold place, covered, until serving time. Put it back in the kettle in boiling water and steam it for 1/2 hour or longer. To serve, unmold the pudding on a serving dish, sprinkle it with sugar, pour over it 2 or 3 tablespoons warmed rum, and ignite the spirit. Serve the pudding while it is blazing.

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