He had me at hello. No seriously, I speak French like sling blade, so when Greg Marchand the chef at Frenchie in Paris said “Hello” in English, I was smitten. The meal that followed that night was one of the best examples of ingredient love and technique restraint that’s quite frankly hard to find in Paris. We started with the smoked trout, a mesquite smoked filet served over avocado puree with pickles and dill. Our main course was a pleasantly salty roasted fork tender pork over cranberry beans, with favas and baby carrots both sweet and still slightly crunchy. Dessert was a milky panna cotta just barely set and served with red fruit coulis and a topping of fresh raspberries.
I stumbled home that night and while still drunk and happy sent a giddy e-mail to Frenchie saying “you have built it, they will come”. And come they have. In just over a year that Frenchie has been open, they have garnered the praise of every blogger and publication in Paris, raves from the New York Times, picked up a Michelin bib and Greg himself took home the Le Fooding chef of the year honors. Sadly, all this acclaim has also made our once a week spot into once a month treat, if we can score a reservation.
Of the dozen or so times we have eaten at Frenchie, the dishes that stand above the rest are the ones Greg has cooked up with his tiny Weber grill doubling as a hot-smoker. Smoked polenta w crab, smoked mackerel with asparagus, smoked oyster w sweet pea and anchovy soup and of course the smoked trout, the pièce de résistance for more than a few food critics. After I spent a day with Greg in his tiny kitchen he shared his recipe for the signature smoked trout.
photo courtesy of David Lebovitz
6 medium size trout filets
mesquite wood chips
Stove-top smoker or a small grill with lid
Place stove top smoker or grill on two burners both on medium heat. Add mesquite chips to the bottom of the smoker and replace wire rack. Pat skin side of trout dry with paper towels and place skin side down on wire rack of smoker. Sprinkle flesh side of trout with salt. Replace the cover of the smoker and cook filets for 8 – 10 minutes until just filets are just cooked through and beads of water still linger on the surface. Remove trout filets from smoker and peel off skin.
1/2 lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
salt to taste
Slice avocados in half and remove pit. Using a large spoon remove the meat of the avocado and place in blender with other ingredients. Blend on high until silky smooth. Taste and add salt. Store chilled in airtight container.
Dill Pickled Cucumbers and Shallots
2 cups h20
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 english cucumbers sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
4 shallots peeled and sliced
1 bushel of dill
Bring h2o, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and add cucumbers and sliced shallots. Once it reached room temperature add dill and refrigerate overnight.
Drizzle plate with a little olive oil. Spoon avocado puree into the center and place smoked trout filet on puree. Top trout with pickled cucumbers, shallots and dill. Serve immediately.
5 rue de Nil – Paris – France – 75002