Lamprey à la Bordelaise

Jean-Louis Palladin, Fred J. Maroon, Jean-Louis: Cooking with the Seasons - February 19th, 2014

The fifth course from Jean-Louis Palladin's Spring Menu in Jean-Louis: Cooking with the Seasons.

"Lampreys are another of those things that Americans have to learn to like. I really love them, but for years, I was afraid I would never find them here. Then one day I got desperate; I had to have them. I was sure that somewhere in this enormous country there had to be an estuary, and in that estuary there had to be eels. I told my supplier in Maine what I wanted, and three years later he called me with the good news—he had found lampreys. For me, eating eels is like going to the moon, but my customers are still not so sure."

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 bottle Bordeaux wine
  • 1 cup leeks (white and green parts), chopped
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup unpeeled carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup unpeeled turnips, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 3 med. garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 10 very leafy thyme sprigs
  • 3 lg. bay leaves
  • 2 1/2–3 lbs. live freshwater lamprey or other freshwater eel (see note)
  • 2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups red Bordeaux wine
  • 6 oz. lean prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 3 cups lobster consommé, lobster stock, or other consommé or stock
  • 1 1/2 cups fond de veau
  • salt water (2 Tbsps. coarse salt mixed with 1 qts. water)
  • 6 (1 3/4–2 lbs.) large leeks (white part), cut crosswise into 1 1/2” pieces

Note: Have eel killed, skinned, cleaned, and cut crosswise into 2” sections; if using lamprey, save blood for sauce.

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl; add the eel, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the eel from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels; set marinade aside. Heat a heavy 6 qt. saucepan over high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the eel, reduce heat to medium, and sauté until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Season eel lightly with salt and pepper, then add to the pan the reserved marinade and the wine and prosciutto. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring and skimming occasionally.

With the mixture still simmering, transfer eel with a slotted spoon to a bowl, cover and set aside. Add the consommé to the pan and bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer until liquid reduces by 1/3, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Add the fond de veau and continue simmering until sauce reduces to 1 1/2 to 2 cups, about 15 minutes more. Strain sauce through a chinois, using the bottom of a sturdy ladle to force as much through as possible. Return sauce to the saucepan and, if using lamprey, add the blood. If the sauce is too thin, reduce to a sauce consistency; remove from heat and return eel to pan. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring the salt water to a rolling boil in a small pot. Add the leek pieces and simmer (do not boil) until tender, about 15 minutes; drain on paper towels and blot dry.

Also now heat the serving plates in a 250°F oven.

To serve:

If needed, reheat sauce and eel. Spoon 3 or 4 pieces of eel and about 1/4 cup sauce on each heated serving plate and arrange 3 or 4 pieces of leek on top of the sauce. Serve immediately.

Find more recipes from Palladin's Spring: Menu Two: