Gourmandise Brillat-Savarin

(fillet of veal with mushrooms)

Brillat-Savarin, the author of the historic Physiologie d’ Gout lent his name to this dish (and a baking pan), once served at Laserre. I don’t know if the dish Price enjoyed was the actual Gourmandise preferred by Brillat-Savarin, or a dish inspired by it. The recipe in the Treasury is not the original, as described by the famous gourmand.

In the Treasury, the dish is all about veal and a sugarless crepe. This is certainly a delicious and hearty plate, but to call it gourmandise is perhaps being overly generous. The term indicates a dish that has been elevated on every level. A dish where the highest level of genius has been applied to the selection of ingredients, to the construction of the recipe, to the execution in the kitchen, and to the presentation at the table. No aspect should be left to chance. This is the mindset Alinea and El Bulli are built on, the mindset every great chef aspires to.

There are many changes that have changed the environment of restaurants and the expectations of their guests since 1965. Portions are smaller, ingredients are likely more local, seasonal, and feature more prominently in the flavor profile. People don’t smoke in restaurants any more. They care about their health, they worry about their waistline. They have moved away from the rarer woodland creatures such as bear, thrush, and lark.

All of these reasons and sure more I haven’t considered account for the disappearance of this dish from the modern menu, and certainly account for the changes Price affected when including it in his collection.

Oreiller de la belle Aurore

Here are the ingredients, as reported by Cuisine a la Francais, given without order or volume, the infamous L’oreiller de la Belle-Aurore, (the pillow of the beautiful Aurora) a dish Brillat-Savarin dedicated to his mom.

  • one veal cutlet
  • one pork cutlet
  • chicken livers
  • partridge
  • mushrooms
  • duck
  • rabbit saddle
  • chicken breast
  • blanched sweet breads

All of these are baked together in a crepe pillow. That Brillat-Savarin named this dish for his mother indicates it must have been very, very good. You don’t name a dish after your mom unless it exceeds all the other dishes you’ve ever enjoyed by a good mile.

I think this dish could be adapted for the modern plate by constructing it on a smaller scale, instead of a pillow you can rest your head upon, perhaps something you might place beneath a piece of jewelry.

Here is the recipe from the Treasury.

Gourmandise Brillat-Savarin

Ingredients

    Veal
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 fillet of veal
  • Filling
    tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped shallots
  • 3 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • salt and pepper
  • Presentation
  • Buttered ramekin
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 unsweetened crepe

Instructions

    Veal
  1. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and in it sauté 1 fillet of veal, about 1 inch thick and weighin about 6 ounces, for six minutes, or until browned and almost cooked. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. Filling
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet, sauté shallots and mushrooms, for about 3 miniutes Add sherry and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Dash of salt and pepper.
  4. Presentation
  5. Spread half the mushroom mixture in the center of the crepe. Place the fillet on top and cover with the remaining mushroom mixture. Fold the sides of the crepe over to enclose completely. Place into buttered dish. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter and Parmesan. Bake for 5 minutes.
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Bull Garlington is an award-winning author and columnist from Chicago. His newest book is The Full English, a humorous travel memoir.