The first installment of “A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving”
My husband and I like to make lists.
But instead of “things to do” or “places to go,” most of our lists revolve around food that we’ve already eaten. One list is the fullest we’ve ever been. For me, hands down, the winner is after our meal at the (now defunct) Incanto in San Francisco. I was so stuffed I almost cried when the kitchen sent us a complimentary dessert and champagne at the end of the meal. It felt more like a punishment than a gift.
We also talk about the longest meals we’ve had (the Herb Farm is definitely up there – so much food!) and, of course, the best things we have eaten. This list is constantly changing but for both of us the ultimate winner is the same — the Oysters & Pearls from our dinner at the French Laundry back in 2011.
This is one of Chef Thomas Keller’s most iconic dishes. The base is a custard made with small pearl tapioca, cream and oyster trimmings. The mixture is baked in individual ramekins and then topped with a gently poached fresh oyster, a silky butter sauce, a scoopful of caviar and a dusting of chives.
Out of everything we ate that night, which was somewhere close to 14 or 15 courses, this dish is the one that we reminisce about the most.
If there was a single con to be found, it’s that it is only a few bites in size — and after just one spoonful I was sure I could eat a platter of the stuff. Keller is clearly aware it’s always best to keep your guests wanting more.
Since our meal there, my husband and I have often discussed recreating the dish at home using the French Laundry cookbook. That is what inspired our Thanksgiving feast this year, which I dubbed “A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving.” We pulled recipes from three of his cookbooks, Ad Hoc, The French Laundry and Bouchon, and created a four-course meal instead of the usual spread of turkey, stuffing and gravy.
Here’s the start of our journey into the fine art of cooking like Keller…
What can I say about the end result? It was gorgeous and tasted just like I remembered. It is extremely rich so we probably only needed half of this but once I started eating there was no way I could stop.
If you want to wow someone, make them this. It is surprisingly easy to put together. Yes, it has a lot of steps but much can be prepped in advance. (If you don’t have the cookbook – here’s a link to the recipe).
There is no way it won’t be one of the best things they ever had.