Christmas lunch at Château d'Issan is not quite the same as at our house.
For starters, there isn’t a turkey crown or Brussel sprout in sight.
That’s because rather than my mother-in-law burning the stuffing, Château d'Issan relies on the handy work of the estate's head chef and former personal chef to Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Frédéric Braud.
Wine intelligence agency Wine Lister asked Chef Braud to come up with his perfect alternative Christmas day meal - and the perfect wines to match.
Below you have all the direction you need to make it for yourself. Just don’t let your mother-in-law persuade you that you need cranberry sauce with it.
Tomato soup with basil and langoustines
Ingredients (for 4 people):
- 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch of basil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 langoustines
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger (optional)
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes
For the tomatoes
Remove their stalks, chop the tomatoes and blend together with a pinch of fleur de sel, a few grindings of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Pass the puréed tomato through a fine sieve to strain out the skin, seeds and any undesirable bits, reserving only the juice.
Blend the leaves from a few basil sprigs with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Add half of this pistou to the tomato purée along with the sherry vinegar and mix again. Reserve the remainder of the pistou to garnish.
For the langoustines
To shell the langoustines, first remove the claws and the heads then pinch the tail and pull firmly to extract the flesh. Using a thin-bladed knife, devein the langoustines by cutting down the back of the flesh to remove the sandy and bitter intestines. To cook the langoustines, you can either sear them in a frying pan coated with a few drops of olive oil or cook them in a court bouillon flavoured with ginger.
Pour the cold tomato soup into soup plates and place the langoustines directly into the soup. Garnish with drops of the reserved pistou around the edge.
Chef ’s tip
Nothing is wasted, everything is transformed: to make a bisque with the langoustine heads, brown them with carrots, leeks, onions, fennel and garlic. Add some tomato purée, a little Cognac and water and reduce by three quarters. Strain everything through a fine sieve then store the langoustine bisque in the freezer for another meal. All that remains is to add a little butter or cream.
We recommend that you pair this dish with a Blason d’Issan 2015.
Seven-hour leg of lamb
Ingredients (for 8 people)
- 1 leg of lamb (about 2.5kg/51/2lb)
- 50g (13/4 oz) unsalted butter
- 100ml (31/2 fl oz) grapeseed oil
- 500g (1lb 2oz) carrots
- 500g (1lb 2oz) onions
- 5 garlic cloves
- 80g (23/4 oz) plain flour
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 500ml (18fl oz) water
- 2 litres (31/2 pints) red wine
- 1 litre (13/4 pints) veal stock
- 2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly (optional)
- Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
- Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 7 hours
Preparation and cooking
In a cast-iron casserole dish, sauté the leg of lamb in the butter and oil for 5 minutes on each side.
Peel and slice the carrots, onions and garlic and add to the lamb.
Sprinkle lightly with the flour, then add the honey, water, red wine and veal stock.
Bring to the boil. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface using a small ladle.
Transfer it to the oven to cook at 150°C (300°F/Gas mark 2).
After 7 hours, the meat will have become very tender. Remove the meat from the casserole and leave to rest.
Reduce the gravy, but don’t strain it if you want to keep the golden vegetables. Test it for its acidity: if necessary, add some redcurrant jelly to sweeten it. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the whole leg of lamb, surrounded with grilled vegetables if you wish. Pour over the red-wine gravy. Don’t be afraid to disturb its glossy sheen, as sharing food with others is always worthwhile.
Always choose slow cooking in a casserole in the oven as it’s less risky than cooking on the hob, where your dish is never entirely safe from get-ting burnt.
We recommend that you pair this dish with a Château d’Issan 2010.
Chocolate tartlet with toasted hazelnut
Ingredients (for 4 people)
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
- 200g (7oz) plain flour
- 125g (41/2 oz) icing sugar
- 20g (3/4 oz) cocoa powder
- 125g (41/2 oz) unsalted butter, diced and softened
- 2 eggs, beaten
For the chocolate cream
- 150ml (5fl oz) whipping cream
- 200g (7oz) unsweetened dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 20g (3/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg, beaten
- 500 ml (18 fl oz) milk
- A handful of hazelnuts
Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
Prepare the dough the day before.
Sieve the flour, icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and slowly beat in the softened butter.
Add the eggs and mix again to make a smooth pastry dough.
For the chocolate cream
Heat the cream without boiling it.
Add the chocolate and the softened butter and mix vigorously.
Add the egg and milk, stir to thicken then set aside.
Baking the tartlets
Roll out the pastry and line it into four 8cm- (3in) diameter tartlet rings or loose-based flan tins.
Bake blind in the oven at 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4) for 15 minutes.
Fill the pastry cases with the chocolate cream, lower the temperature of the oven to 140°C (275°F/Gas mark 1) and bake for a further 15 minutes.
The chocolate cream filling should still be quivering: the tartlets are at their best like this – a subtle balance of sweetness and bitterness, lightness and intensity.
Making a liar out of Socrates, these tartlets make us want more than anything to live to eat rather than simply eat to live!
Unmould the tartlets and place them in the centre of the plates.
Crush the hazelnuts and bake them in the oven at 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4) for a few minutes to roast them.
From time to time, shake the oven tray to ensure that the hazelnuts brown evenly.
After 15 minutes, when their toasted aroma will have filled the kitchen, it’s time to take them out of the oven and sprinkle them over the tartlets.
You can adapt this recipe by using any type of chocolate – white, dark or milk – in the same quantities.
Grand Vin RRP approx. £85; Blason RRP approx. £30, various independents: wine-searcher.com