Soupers de la Cour, by Menon, is the last major pre-revolutionary cookbook, and though it doesn’t have the over the top, debauched, pyrotechnics of Le Cuisinier Gascon, its solid, well thought out recipes are more indicative of the state of haute cuisine (Menon wasn’t himself a snob though, he had already written La Cuisiniere bourgeoise in 1746) in the waning decades of French monarchy.
You’ll need butter, parsley, scallions, shallots, a clove of garlic, mushrooms, basil, salt, pepper, [and bread crumbs] all chopped fine. Lay on top and below the salmon steak (I used a fillet because it was on sale) and lay small bits of butter liberally on top. Cook covered on a low heat. Top with a “little Italian sauce”.
Put in a pan a slice of ham, 3 or 4 mushrooms, 2 or 3 shallots, 1/2 a clove of garlic, a bay leaf, oil; cook on a medium heat, “wet” with consommé (I used stock), a little coulis (see below), a half glass of Champagne (I used white wine), simmer for a half hour, strain off the fat and strain.
Coulis is a great example – like some other extreme reductions – of why the French sent so many rich folks to the guillotine 30 some years after this was written. To make a coulis you reduce a great deal of ham, often some bacon, carrots, onions, and frequently a pound or two of veal, and stock, and strain it until all you have is a thick brown sauce. Then you throw everything else away (I skipped the veal and rather than throw the rest away I used it as a sandwich spread. Even the refuse is powerfully meaty stuff).
What’s left isn’t strongly flavored so much as thickly flavored. Have a tiny taste and you start licking your lips like a dog eating peanut butter, trying to conjure the flavor back into your mouth to have another try at it.
A little ridiculous, but a lot delicious.