I have always wanted to take cooking classes. Between a perpetually busy schedule and not really knowing where to take them, I was excited when I heard about Sur La Table’s Christmas in France. Our lesson started out with a quick introduction to chef Martin Gilligan and his staff. He then demonstrated the knifing technique of how to prepare chicken. He made it look so easy. I knew that with copious notes and about a dozen birds to practice on, I would get it right eventually myself.
Wines were poured and Chef Gilligan then walked us through a Grand Marnier Soufflé. I have made a handful of soufflés before and I noticed a few differences in the demonstration. Most notably there were more egg whites than yolks and there was apparently no cream of tartar. I always wondered why I bought that stuff. Soufflés hit the oven and we were sent off in pairs to stations for the preparation of the individual dishes for the nights big fest.
Now I must recommend that if you take such a class, make sure you stick close to the dish you want to make. Haya and I turned around to find the Pommes Dauphinoise was the only dish left. At first it looked a little plain, as we were just going to be slicing potatoes and cheese for the bulk of the prep here. As it turned out, these simple hand held slicers made it fun to turn two bowls of peeled potatoes into neatly sliced pieces. It was so much fun that I bought one in the store as our potatoes came to a simmer.
Our fellow guests were making a zucchini gratin, mussels in white wine, soupe au pistou, lavender vanilla madeleines and ham stuffed chicken legs. The soufflés came out of the oven and we indulged in dessert before dinner. The soufflés were amazing on their own, but I opted to add white raspberries and chocolate sauce to really push it over the edge.
After a little more shopping and a few more demonstrations we sat down for dinner. The first to be served was the soup. The mixture of garlic and basil make this soup very flavorful, however the large undercooked beans were to be avoided.
The remaining dishes came to the table next. The zucchini gratin was accented by tarragon and parmesan. I thought the zucchini was a bit over done for my preference, but overall it had a nice flavor. The potatoes were delicious…and not because we made them. The real gem of the night was the ham stuffed chicken legs with sweet pepper, honey and onion compote.
Sur La Table does a remarkable job of making you feel like a great meal is a cinch to make. While there is a hands on component, the staff is good about assisting or rescuing as needed. They were a good humored bunch that offered a sense of kindness and community to the instruction. I am looking forward to their upcoming holiday desserts class.
See Recipe for French Style Ham Stuffed Chicken Legs Below Photo Gallery
Sur La Table
6333 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036-7637
Ham-Stuffed Chicken Legs with Sweet Pepper, Honey and Onion Compote
Yield: 4 servings
Chicken flavored with ham or bacon is an age-old Irish marriage. At Drimcong House in Moycullen, Ireland, the combination is translated into a stunning contemporary dish. Ask your butcher to skin and bone the chicken legs for you, which will make this easier to prepare.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
1 4-ounce ham slice, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1 tablespoon whipping cream
4 large chicken legs, skin and bones removed
Chopped fresh parsley
1. Combine all ingredients except broth in heavy medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add broth; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.
2. Transfer 1 cup compote to food processor and puree until almost smooth. Add puree to remaining compote; simmer 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (can be made 2 days ahead. Chill.)
3. Combine ham, egg and whipping cream in processor and process until ham is finely chopped.
4. Pound each chicken leg between sheets of waxed paper to 1/3-inch-thick rectangle (about 6 inches by 5 inches). Arrange, smooth side down, on work surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide ham filling among chicken pieces. Spread over center of chicken, leaving 1/2-inch border on short sides. Starting at 1 long side, roll up chicken jelly roll style.
5. Place four 9×7-inch foil squares on work surface; butter foil. Place 1 chicken roll in center of each. Roll up foil tightly around chicken, enclosing completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
6. Preheat oven to 500°F. Place chicken on baking sheet. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove foil from chicken. Cut chicken roll into 3/4-inch-thick slices.
7. Re-warm compote over medium heat, stirring often. Spoon onto plates, arranging chicken atop compote. Top with parsley.