Ludo Lefebvre Walks You Through His Ultimate Christmas Pairing
"Christmas in France is a big deal," says chef Ludo Lefebvre, and in the latest episode of Ludo à la Maison, he's letting the rest of the world in on a favorite food/drink combination of his. While Lefebvre wasn't a big cocktail fan until later in life, he says, the Grey Goose Martini he pairs with Blinis Caviar made him a convert, and he starts with a quick walk-through on how to try the martini yourself.
First, he pours together 2.5 oz of Grey Goose vodka, .5 oz vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters, and spoons a good amount of ice in (for dilution). He stirs for ten seconds, then pours into a martini glass, straining out the ice. Noting how the liquid has thickened, Lefebvre then adds some lemon zest, and squeezes the peel for flavor before dropping it in for a light and refreshing drink—though, he cautions, you should drink it with moderation, so as to avoid becoming the "drunk uncle" of the family.
Since, Lefebvre says, the best thing to pair with vodka is caviar, it's now time for the blinis. He says to cook russet potatoes in salted water until they're soft, which you can gauge by whether or not you can smoothly insert a knife into them, and then peel. Next, mash the potatoes in a large bowl, add milk, salt, flour, and three eggs, then mix (like it's a potato pancake). He then adds egg whites and mixes some more.
To cook, Lefebvre says to fill a pan with clarified butter, which, since it lacks milk components, won't burn during the long cooking time and high temperature needed. Once it's very hot, he pours the blini mixture into the pan with a large spoon a la pancakes, four at a time. Also like pancakes, it rises a bit, and you'll know to flip it when the top starts bubbling.
To serve, Lefebvre puts a bit of crème fraîche and a spoonful of caviar on top of each blini, then eats with his hands. He reiterates that it's "the perfect pairing," and once again cautions to make sure that "Uncle Joe" won't get drunk, which seems like a pretty good holiday tip to end on.