The Mighty Manu

French-Australian chef Manu Feildel.
French-Australian chef Manu Feildel.

IT seems that the work of a celebrity chef is never done.

He won last year's season of Channel 7's Dancing with the Stars, completed filming for a new season of My Kitchen Rules - and even managed to help run his acclaimed Sydney eatery L'etoile Restaurant and Bar in between.

For beloved French-Australian chef Manu Feildel, a culinary career in the spotlight is always on the go. But only this week, the 3-hatted chef was keen to visit the Sunshine Coast once again to mingle with fans and fellow food lovers at Berardo's Restaurant and Bar in Noosa to share recipes from his newest cookbook, Manu's French Bistro.

Despite juggling a busy work schedule, the 39-year-old was keen to rekindle his passion in creating contemporary French bistro food at home by putting together a sequel to his first best-seller, Manu's French Kitchen.

"The first book was more for people who would want to cook French food at home, but the second one (Manu's French Bistro) is a little more adventurous," Manu said. "I wanted to show people what I do at the restaurant. A lot of the recipes in the book will be, or are already, on the menu at my restaurant.

"The recipes are a little bit more complicated. Not too crazy, but there would be a bit more work going into cooking these recipes.

"It's great for those who want to have a go at the challenge and try cooking these dishes at home. I'm very proud of this book."

Manu said he was all too aware of the commonly-held view of French cooking as difficult and complex, but was determined to make his contemporary French recipes easier to cook and enjoy for Aussie home cooks.

"It's actually the number-one reason why I wanted to put a cookbook together," Manu said.

"I realised that around the time when I wanted to write a book, most people were actually scared of French cookbooks and how their recipes are far too complicated. I didn't want to scare people away. I wanted them to be able to open the book and enjoy cooking from it, and from there have the chance to create really great French cooking."

Like his first cookbook, Manu's French Bistro includes dozens of recipes collected and recreated from his culinary ventures.

"There's a mixture of everything - there are recipes I've done in restaurants in the past, recipes we're now doing in my restaurant as we speak, and some we'll be developing in the future," Manu said. "And then there are also recipes from my hometown and ones my mum used to cook at home, too.

"There are Monday-to-Friday recipes in the book for people to try out at home, some easy enough to replicate for your families, and then there are some light dishes to cook for friends on the weekend.

"Cooking, eating, and sharing with loved ones just go hand in hand. That's how we live in Europe and I think the world should live that way."

Manu's recipes also draw on the crème de la crème of Australian produce: "To be honest, I am really jealous of the range of seafood here in particular. You've got beautiful snapper and John Dory, and amazing mud crab.

"We have all these fresh, beautiful produce here. I'm just so lucky I get the chance to be able to cook with them, too."

 

COUTEAUX DE MER MARINIÈRE (Razor Clams Mariniere) - Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 2 eschalots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2kg razor clams, cleaned
  • 200ml pouring cream
  • large handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crusty bread, to serve

Method:

1. Place the wine, eschalot, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and peppercorns in a large deep frying pan. Bring to the boil over high heat and simmer for two minutes. Working in batches, add the razor clams, then cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for five minutes or just until the shells open. Remove the clams with tongs or a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining clams.

2. Strain the cooking liquor through a {filig}ne-mesh sieve into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cream, then bring to the boil again and simmer for two minutes. Stir through the parsley.

3. Check the seasoning (razor clams are quite salty, so you usually only need to season with a little pepper).

Pour the sauce over the clams and serve immediately with crusty bread.

 

 

CONFIT DE PORC ET PURÉE DE POMMES CONFIT (Pork Belly With Apple Puree) - Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tbs fennel seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbs finely chopped thyme
  • 150 ml olive oil
  • 1 × 800 g piece pork belly, skin-on, bones removed
  • 1 litre duck fat (see page 105)
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • Black Pudding (optional) and wilted spinach leaves, to serve

Apple puree:

  • 4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 50ml water
  • sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Lightly crush the star anise, fennel seeds, cloves and black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Add the thyme and olive oil and mix well. Rub the pork belly {fllig}esh with the spice mixture; do not rub the skin. Place in a ceramic dish, cover with plastic {filig}lm and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 150°C.

3. Place the duck fat in a large roasting pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes or until melted. Add the pork belly and cook for 4 hours or until tender.

4. Remove the pork belly and place on a baking tray, then top with a heavy-based baking tray and wrap the whole thing tightly with plastic {filig}lm. Refrigerate overnight to press (this creates a compact shape and width, making the belly easier to portion evenly). Cut the pork into four 200g pieces.

5. To make the apple puree, place the apple, sugar, butter and water in a saucepan, then cook over low heat for 10-12 minutes or until the apple is soft. Transfer to a food processor and process to form a smooth puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return to the saucepan and keep warm.

6. Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Working with two pieces of pork at a time, cook, skin-side down, for 8-10 minutes or until golden and crisp. The pork should be warmed through.

7. Divide the pork belly among plates and serve with apple puree, black pudding and wilted spinach.

Topics:  easy eating, food and entertainment, recipes



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