How to Make Ludo Lefebvre’s Grandmother-Inspired Ham Chablisienne with Pasta
In the latest episode of Ludo à la Maison, chef Ludo Lefebvre shares a dish that for awhile, he admits, he "totally forgot about." That is, until his grandmother reminded him, when she cooked dinner for him and his friend Anthony Bourdain. After apologizing for doing another dish from his hometown of Burgundy, France (as if anyone minds!), Lefebvre breaks it down: while ham and pasta are the most visible components of Ham Chablisienne with Pasta, "this dish is really about the sauce."
To start, Lefebvre peels the shallots, pointing out the "everything is good with white wine and shallots," which is why they're used so often in Burgundy. He says to dice them, and "keep in mind you want a nice because…" he trails off, realizing that he actually doesn't know why, and he won't give you a fake reason.
He puts the butter in a pot on medium heat, adds the shallots and sweats them for three minutes (no colorization), then deglazes with Chablis. "The dish needs to be made with Chablis," Lefebvre emphasizes, "not another white wine." The dish needs the Burgundy wine's perfect balance of dryness and minerals.
After a quick keyboard solo on the hi-tech induction stovetop, Ludo reduces the wine by half, in order to burn off the alcohol, making steam that, he jokes, could get you drunk. After starting the pasta (tagliatelle), he mixes a bit of tomato paste into the sauce with a whisk, adds a touch of beurre manié (equal parts flour and butter) to help thicken the sauce, then heavy cream, salt, white pepper and finally crème fraîche.
He says you should get a beautiful, light pink sauce, and then reduce for "five good minutes" before taking a more philosophical turn. Repeatedly tasting and adjusting the sauce, Lefebvre says in cooking you should "go by feeling"—unlike in baking, with set amounts you can't alter, "a sauce can change."
"When she's beautiful she's ready," he says of when the sauce is done, then strains it to get the shallot pieces out, brings it back to the pot and adds the ham and pasta to warm them up. Like his grandmother, he cooks for five more minutes so the pasta absorbs the sauce, plates it and adds some diced parsley. "That's the way we eat our pasta in Burgundy, " Lefebvre concludes. "With a lot of sauce." While his attempt to conclude by speaking Italian doesn't quite work, Ludo's Ham Chablisienne with Pasta most certainly does.