Although I drank Pernod and Ricard regularly in the 1960s, probably trying to capture some of the absynthed minds of Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and the like without risking LSD, I’d never thought of cooking with them until I saw Stefane’s ‘Crevette au Ricard‘ on My French Heaven. As some of you will know I adopted them as my Christmas Dinner starter and that turned out to be the gastronomic highlight of 2012. The Pernod flambe adds some indefinable taste, atmosphere, feeling to a very simple dish but surprisingly it cannot be identified as aniseed or liquorice.

Colourful poster for absinth

You can buy this poster from Amazon

As a result I ended up with an almost full bottle of Pernod in the cupboard. What to do with it?

It’s not so full now! I’ve been drinking it, in what I believe is the basic French way – 1:5 with water. I do like it, though at this dilution you have to be a bit careful (unless, of course, you want to get ‘smashed’).

However, I also started to do a bit of research on internet and found that Pernod Ricard themselves had recommended ‘shrimp’ (in the UK these are tiny things found most famously in Morecambe bay; I think it was about what we call prawns)

What 'shrimp' means to most British people

What ‘shrimp’ means to most British people

flambe’d in Pernod at a cooking school in New York. It was described in an article by Roberta Roberti on:

I presume Roberta is a staff member, writer or something, at Epicurean but the article is a good read and there were two recipes, including the flambe’d prawns.

Although I haven’t made the one given on Epicurean I can be pretty certain I’d prefer Stefane’s simpler recipe. It seems to me that serving the prawn on a bed of fennel is putting it with something too close in flavour to Pernod not to mask the extremely subtle flavour from the flambe. But the Anise Flavored Cream with Fresh Orange Salad, the other recipe given, looks worth a try and I’ll almost certainly have a go at it for our next guests.

Yesterday I went into the city of Leeds to do a bit of Christmas shopping, but high on my list was a visit to the market and the excellent fish stalls there (they have survived, probably thanks to the Afro-Carribean community which makes the city such a vibrant place). I was after the basis for the first course of my planned Christmas dinner. Unfortunately the rest of the market no longer compares with those in France so this was all I was seeking there.

If you saw my post of a couple of days ago when I outlined the planned menu, you’ll realise there will be quite a lot of work there. When I detail it you could well find there’s even more work than you thought, as I’m going back to classic French cuisine methods and no short cuts (the sauce will take a few hours to make).

For this reason I wanted a first course that was quick and which would provide a massive taste change to the next course. I didn’t want anything cold, but if possible a bit of a Christmas ‘spectacular’. Then I remembered a recent post on My French Heaven which seemed to be just what I was after.

Picture of a plate of raw prawns

I guess for many people they don’t look so appetising like this. To see them in their Christmas colours, which they will assume when cooked, follow the link below to the recipe

I won’t repeat the recipe – just pop over to My French Heaven by following this link: Crevettes au Ricard. Don’t be put off if you don’t read French; Stephane, the author, repeats all his recipes in English.

In fact I couldn’t find Ricard so it will be Pernod. Nor could I find Espelette pepper so I’ll probably use dash of Tabasco, which is about the same ‘hotness’.

So, it’s quick; apart from a few minutes to make the marinade a day before, it’s just five or six minutes on the griddle. It should be ‘spectacular’, as any flambe is. I’ve never flambe’d with Pernod or Ricard before so it’ll also be interesting. In fact I’ve never eaten anything flambe’d in an anis liquor before, but I trust Stephane.

More about the main course later.