Hélène Darroze’s dinner party

For my friend Hélène Darroze, cooking is a family affair: she is part of the 4th generation of hotelier restaurateur and cook family in the Landes.
A love of cooking that she passes on through her three restaurants and especially the newest, Jòia.
The Holidays give me the opportunity to ask her for some advice!

What are your traditions to celebrate the Holidays?
I celebrate Christmas with my parents, brother, children and sometimes some friends. For a long time, we celebrated in London since I have a restaurant at the Connaught and Christmas is a very busy period, because unlike France, people go out to the restaurant a lot at this time.
We always started with a "tea time" on the 23rd at the Claridge's, then lunch on the 24th at Cipriani because the 24th is my nephew's birthday, then New Year's Eve at the Connaught's lounges.
The lunch of the 25th was always done in my office in front of the restaurant’s kitchens, which allowed me to take a look regularly!
Now that I know better how to delegate to my teams, I allow myself to be absent from my restaurants for Christmas and celebrate it in France’s Southwest.

Have you preserved any from your childhood spent in the Landes?
I love going to the market in Biarritz. In the evening, we attend mass with Basque songs in Arcangues before dinner. Then we enjoy foie gras and oysters, Aquitaine caviar and Périgord truffles on Christmas Eve and a Landes capon on Christmas lunch.

Your ‘it’ product for a Holiday dinner?
Next to the Landes capon (I even cook it in my London restaurant), my ‘it’ product remains the Périgord ‘first truffles’.

How do you cook it?
I prepare stuffing with brioche bread, foie gras and black truffle that I slip under the skin of the capon. Then I roast it in the oven, starting in a very hot oven so that it is seared, and ending with a longer bake at low temperature so that it is moist.
And I water it very often with duck fat.
I simply serve it with baked potatoes.

A cocktail to go along with it ?
Madame Spritz, the Spritz restyled for my restaurant Jòia to drink as an aperitif.
The recipe:
Bas-Armagnac Darroze 8 years old, with Saint Germain liqueur and Galliano aperitif liqueur, and Nathalie Falmet’s champagne.



The best dessert to savor?
We have a tradition with my friend Pierre Hermé.
I cook a "salty" eve for him, which he warms up at home and he delivers me the sweets.
So we always have a Yule log from Pierre, usually with chocolate because I love chocolate!
But I still cook a bread and butter pudding with pannetone and lots of dried fruits.
And we also have the wonderful gingerbread covered with chocolate sent to me by my friend Christine Ferber,
an exceptional pastry chef in Alsace.
She presents it in the form of a house covered with almond and sugared almonds and that makes the happiness of my little girls.

A tip to impress your guests?
I advise you stuff the capon with foie gras and “coquillette” pasta before roasting, instead of a traditional stuffing, then cut it in front of the guests.
They do not expect this kind of stuffing at all which also serves as a garnish.
Pasta feeds on the fat and the flavors of foie gras and capon, it's sublime!

Do you involve your daughters, Charlotte and Quitterie, in the preparation of dinner?
They are the ones who cook the pudding. And they set the table with my mother : it's a moment of sharing they love!

What is the first recipe you taught them?
The first recipe they made was a cake, but I must admit it was not one of my recipes ...
It was Quitterie's godmother, Suzy, who is an excellent cook. It was her famous chocolate cake.

What are your New Year resolutions?
Every year it's the same: to find a little more time for me and my family ...
Every time it falls through but in 2019 for sure I’ll get there!

Photo credits : Nicolas Buisson