L’Auberge Chez François’ Chef Jacques Haeringer Shares Family Traditions and Recipes for Father’s Day

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Family traditions begin in the kitchen for father and son chefs at Washington DC's legendary restaurant.

Father’s Day is a day when we commemorate and celebrate Dad. This tradition to honor not only a father, but all men who have acted as a father figure, is celebrated not only in the United States, but in over 50 countries around the world. Fatherhood is an experience that bonds men across generations, continents and even food. In Great Falls, Virginia, the father-son bond is in evidence at the legendary Alsatian restaurant, L’Auberge Chez François. There, Chef Jacques Haeringer continues in his father, François’, footsteps, cooking up his father’s recipes nightly and keeping family traditions alive.

“I was four years old when my father opened Chez François in 1954. French food and the restaurant business have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” says Jacques. “I began working summers with my father at the restaurant when I was twelve, first as a bus boy, then as a salad maker, and later as a cook. I remember my father’s uncanny ability to be on hand whenever I made a mistake. It was under his sharp eyes that I first began to learn the trade.”

Alsace-Lorraine has produced one of the world’s richest and most varied cuisines. It combines traditional French cooking with unique ingredients. François Haeringer set out to bring the flavor of his native Alsace to America. For Alsatians, great food should be served in an intimate setting along with beautiful scenery. François created a tranquil setting for the restaurant bearing his name on six rolling green acres. The dining room and gardens makes enjoying a drink or meal unique and special. Guests are served in an old-world charming atmosphere reminiscent of the little family inns - or "auberge" - that dot the Alsatian countryside.

“In 1954, there were only three French restaurants in Washington DC. My father was the first to offer complete meals to diners in a less formal atmosphere. His goal then, as it is now, was to operate a restaurant with ‘a nice ambiance, good, honest food, at affordable prices.’” For over 50 years visitors to the restaurant have enjoyed François Alsatian delicacies.

To honor fathers everywhere, Chef Jacques shares two of his father’s favorite Alsatian recipes with home cooks to “impart the flavors, family traditions and culinary experiences of my father.”

ALSATIAN STYLE ASPARAGUS
Serves two

8-10 ounces large asparagus
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons grated cheese (Parmesan or Gruyère)

TO PREPARE THE ASPARAGUS:
Peel the asparagus, if desired, and cut off the tough lower stems. Steam the asparagus over salted water to blanch, about 2 minutes. Asparagus should remain fairly crisp. Drain at once on a towel.

TO SERVE:
Preheat the broiler.

Divide the drained asparagus between two ovenproof serving plates with the tips pointing in the same direction. Season with freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the plated asparagus and place under the broiler until the cheese is lightly browned.

The asparagus may be prepared ahead and reheated.

PAPA’S ALSATIAN POTATO SALAD
Serves Two

2 medium Russet potatoes
2 thick sliced strips of bacon
2 tablespoons minced white or red onions
1 tablespoon minced chives or green onions
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dry mustard or 2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup Vinaigrette
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Place potatoes in a pan and cover with cold water; add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes for approximately 15 minutes, until just slightly firm when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and cover with cold water. Once cool to the touch, peel the potatoes, split them lengthwise and thickly slice (1/8-inch thick).

Place sliced potatoes in a large mixing bowl.

Dice the bacon and sauté until slightly crisp. Pour the hot bacon, grease and all (that’s the best part and the secret of Papa’s recipe) onto the potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently using a rubber spatula. Salt and pepper to taste.

STEAK AU POIVRE
Serves two

2 New York strip steaks, 12 ounces each
sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon coarsely ground coriander seeds
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Roquefort cheese

FOR THE SAUCE:
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup Basic Beef Sauce
1 teaspoon butter
pinch of minced garlic
2 drops lemon juice
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the broiler. Lightly salt the steaks.

Combine the pepper and coriander. Using the heel of your hand, firmly press the mixture into both sides of each steak.

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet. When the butter begins to brown, add the steaks and cook over moderately high heat until they are browned on both sides. Allow 3 minutes per side for medium rare.

Remove steaks and place on a platter, keeping them warm while you prepare the sauce.
Wipe out the saucepan in which the steaks were prepared. Then add the shallots, pepper, and wine, and place over high heat. Let the mixture reduce until it is almost dry. Add the Beef Sauce and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter with a whisk. Add the garlic and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings.

When ready to serve, place 1 tablespoon of cheese, broken into four or five pieces, on top of each steak.
Place the steaks under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt.

Remove the steaks from the broiler and pour the sauce around them. Serve at once.

OPTION: steaks can be grilled instead of in a skillet.

BASIC BEEF OR VEAL SAUCE
Makes 1 quart

3 pounds veal or beef bones and meat
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
½ cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 two-inch piece of celery
3 tablespoons flour
2-2 ½ quarts cold water
2 tablespoons tomato purée or 1 fresh tomato, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
pinch of thyme
4 parsley sprigs, optional
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon butter

Using a meat cleaver, crack and cut the bones into small pieces. Place in a roasting pan and brown in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the partly browned bones and continue cooking until the vegetables are also well browned, approximately 15 more minutes.

Remove pan from oven and drain the fat. Dust the bones with the flour, return pan to the oven, and cook for 5 more minutes.

Transfer the bones and vegetables to a stockpot. Deglaze the roasting pan with 1 cup of the water, scraping any meat particles from the bottom. Cover bones with deglazing liquid and remaining water. Add tomato or tomato purée, herbs, and garlic.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 2½-3 hours. Skim occasionally.

Strain into a bowl and discard solids; 2½-3 cups of stock should remain. Dot the top of the stock with the butter to prevent a skin from forming.

Hint: If a sauce is too thin, the easiest way to thicken it is with cornstarch. Place a small amount in a cup and stir in water, a few drops at a time, until a thick paste (the consistency of kindergarten glue) is formed. Whisk a little into the simmering sauce and boil 2-3 minutes. Add more cornstarch until the desired consistency is reached.

Recipes can be reprinted with the following credit: Copyright Chef Jacques Haeringer and L’Auberge Chez François.

Chef Jacques is one of America’s most respected and innovative culinary personalities. Continuing in his father’s footsteps, Jacques loves to create and serve contemporary French fare. His menus feature reinterpreted Alsatian and French cuisine for American palates. When he isn’t in the kitchen he can be found teaching his popular gourmet cooking classes. Jacques is often asked to author magazine articles, cook up recipes at culinary events, and to be a guest on television and radio shows across the country.

Jacques is the author of “Two for Tonight,” a collection of recipes that inspire romance through food and togetherness, and the “Chez François Cookbook,” the bible of classic Alsatian cuisine featuring some of the restaurant’s most popular recipes. He lives in Northern Virginia and is currently working on a new cookbook and television show.

Founded by François Haeringer over 50 years ago, the original L’Auberge Chez François restaurant was only a few blocks from the White House. A native of Alsace, François was a pioneer in bringing French cuisine to post-war America.    With son Jacques manning the kitchen as Chef de Cuisine, patrons of L’Auberge Chez François feel as if they have stepped back into an easier time for a unique dining experience. The restaurant is now serving lunch in the garden and dining rooms Tuesdays through Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 3:00 p.m.

“Tradition Lives at L’Auberge Chez Francois” - The Washington Post features L’Auberge Chez Francois in their Spring 2010 Dining Guide. http://tinyurl.com/2fymvxy/ And for a video visit of the restaurant, go to:
http://tinyurl.com/33wta6l

For more information on L’Auberge Chez François, Chef Jacques, his books and cooking classes, visit him online at http://www.ChefJacques.com, Facebook @JacquesHaeringer, and Twitter @ChefJacquesH.

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