Pan-Fried Frog's Legs, Homemade Alsatian Ravioli Filled with Onion Compote & Chervil Sauce

Antoine Westermann, Café 15, Hotel Sofitel Lafayette Square , Washington, D.C. / November 2002

To Italians, they're ravioli. To Chinese, they're wontons (or various dim sum treats). To European Jews, they're kreplach. Same rounds or squares of delicate dough (more or less), different fillings—a vivid illustration of ethnic accessorization. To wit: at Babbo (NYC), Mario Batali makes offal appealing by conjuring the various organs into flavorful ravioli fillings. Odette Fada has built her career at San Domenico (NYC) on the popularity of the soft egg yolk she slips into ravioli. And here, in a signature dish transported from his Michelin three-star Buersehiesel in Stratsbourg to his consultancy post at Café 15 in the Sofitel Lafayette Square in Washington, D. C., Antoine Westermann's refined onion compote lends ravioli an Alsatian twist.

For 4 servings

Onion compote:
• 2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
• 1 cup white onion, chopped
• salt
• white pepper, freshly ground
• 1/2 cup Sherry vinegar
• 1 cup crème fraîche

  1. Heat butter in a skillet set over medium-low heat; add onion; cover with circle of parchment paper; sweat until tender, without coloring, (about 20 minutes).

  2. Season; add vinegar; reduce to a syrup (about 15 minutes).

  3. Reduce heat to low, add crème fraîche; gently reduce by 95 percent; remove from heat; cool; cover with plastic wrap; reserve in refrigerator.

• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 lg. eggs
• salt

  1. Work flour, eggs, and salt in large bowl into a dough by hand; envelop in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.

  2. Halve dough; flatten each half into a disc; pass each half through pasta machine several times, according to manufacturer's instructions; dust with flour to keep from sticking; continue to next-to-thinnest setting.

  3. Lay one sheet on work surface; brush lightly with water; place 16 1 tsp. mounds onion compote at 1" intervals; cover with remaining sheet; press around mounds areas to seal; cut out ravioli with 2" cookie cutter; place ravioli on sheet tray lined with parchment paper; reserve in refrigerator.

  4. Bring salted water to a boil in a saucepan; add ravioli; poach until al dente; remove with a spider; cool to room temperature; reserve.

Chervil sauce:
• 24 pairs frog's legs, attached to backs
• 3 Tbsps. unsalted butter
• 2 Tbsps. shallot minced
• 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 thyme sprig
• 8 sprigs fresh chervil
• 1 cup Riesling
• 1/2 cup Noilly Prat dry vermouth
• 2 cups chicken stock
• salt
• white pepper, freshly ground

  1. Place frog backs on cutting board; separate legs using sharp knife; remove thigh bones from legs, scraping meat onto the bottom portion of lower leg bone so it resembles a lollipop ; reserve legs, thigh bones, and backs separately.

  2. Heat 3 Tbsps. butter in skillet over medium heat; add backs and thigh bones, shallot, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and chervil; sauté until lightly golden (about 10 minutes); add white wine, vermouth, and chicken stock; bring to a simmer; reduce by 50 percent; strain through fine chinois; discard solids; season; reserve sauce.

• 1/2 cup crème fraîche (reduced from 1 cup), heated
• 5 Tbsps. unsalted butter
• all-purpose flour (for dusting)
• 1/2 bunch fresh chervil, roughly chopped
• 16 scallions, cut into fan shapes

  1. Heat oven 350°F.

  2. Place ravioli in hotel pan; cover with crème fraîche; warm in oven.

  3. Heat 3 Tbsps. butter in a skillet set over medium heat; dust frog's legs with flour; shake off excess; sauté until golden brown; remove from the skillet; drain on paper towels; reserve.

  4. Heat sauce in nonreactive saucepan set over low heat; whisk in remaining 2 Tbsps. butter; remove from heat; stir in chervil.

  5. To serve, arrange frog's legs in half moon on one side of each warm dinner plate; arrange 4 ravioli in half moon on other half; garnish each with green onion fan; spoon sauce around.

Scale-up: Can be scaled in direct proportion.