Serious Eats: Recipes
French in a Flash: Grilled Lamb Chops with Port Syrup, Garlic Confit, and Sauce Vierge 'Persillade'
"I don't think the best technique is absorption—it's eating."
Grilled Port Lamb Chops with Garlic Confit and Sauce Vierge "Persillade" is a dish that contains more French words than a high school vocab quiz. A quick translation is a Frenched rack of lamb, cut into finger-food lollipops, soaked in Port, caramelized on the grill, then topped with a fresh, biting sauce made from soft, sweet garlic and parsley.
When I took French in school, my teacher, an outlandishly gentle, white-moustached little man, once tolerated my jabbering my way through an oral exam and then broke his steely silence with, "You speak the French of the Paris gutters." I laughed. Is that where Maman had come from?
Memorization is boring. People can debate all they like about the best way to "absorb" a language, but I don't think the best technique is absorption—it's eating. For instance, when I recently found myself eating dinner on the sidewalk in Paris my duck confit came with potatoes Sarladaise. I had no idea what they were, but I will now never forget the word Sarladaise as long as I live, for it will always conjure up blissful images of Place Dauphine in the summertime, the tinkling of pétanque balls, and sliced potatoes fried with garlic and duck fat. In short, I was mesmerized. Not memorizing.
French cuisine is a precious source of pride, and so much of it is named accordingly: grandly and loftily, after countesses (like Crème Dubarry), cities (like sauce Bordelaise), or battles (like sauce Albufera). If you eat it and you like it, you'll never forget, even if you try, that Crème Dubarry is cauliflower soup, that sauce Bordelaise is made from Bordeaux wine, or that sauce Albufera is a mixture of cream sauce and meat glaze. What you will learn, without further ado, from Grilled Port Lamb Chops with Garlic Confit and Sauce Vierge "Persillade" is the following:
- Confit: an old technique of preservation, in which meats or fruits are soaked to their core, cooked, and stored in either fat, for meat, or sugar, for fruit
- Persillade: the term generally given to a flavoring agent made from a mixture of garlic and fresh parsley
- Sauce Vierge: translates to "virgin sauce" and is a raw sauce made from oil, acid, and fresh green herbs
Make this recipe, and you'll have learned your lesson for today. It is, unlike me and Maman apparently, decidedly not from the Paris gutter.
About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient series for Serious Eats.