Assiette anglaise

assiette anglaise1

Cold roast meat platter, French style

What the French call an assiette anglaise, or ‘English plate’, is in fact a French dish that’s especially great in summer when you want to get everything ready in advance and avoid spending time over a hot stove just before guests arrive. It is manifoldly variable – the platter may include roast beef, roast pork, roast lamb, roast chicken, roast ham, roast duck and/or cold cuts (salami, parma ham, etc.) – but there are certain elements that usually appear, among them mayonnaise, mustard, little pickles and a few green leaves.

Now, let’s talk about how much preparation is actually involved. I roast the beef myself – click here for the recipe – but often buy a rotisserie chicken instead of roasting my own. (If you’d like to roast the chicken yourself, click here for the recipe.) And as for the ham, I choose a good quality sliced ham from the supermarket or deli. There are also recipes here for roast pork, roast lamb and roast duck, so if that’s your preference, go for it.

One thing I would definitely advise is to make your own mayonnaise. It takes only a few minutes and the results are infinitely superior to store-bought mayonnaise. Try to find a true French Dijon mustard (no sugar listed in the ingredients). As for the pickles, little French cornichons are marinated in vinegar and have a different flavor than pickles in other parts of the world. If you can find them, fine, but if not, any pickles will do.

The recipe that follows, for four people, is one of my favorite combinations. You may present a selection of everything on individual plates or on one large platter for all. Served with a cold rosé, it makes a delightful and elegant summer supper.

8-12 slices cold roast beef
4 pieces cold roast chicken
8 slices cold roast ham
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
bowl of little pickles
handful of small greens: arugula, lamb’s lettuce, baby spinach, baby chard, beet greens, mustard greens, or a combination
2 tomatoes, sliced
fresh herbs for garnish: basil, cilantro, parsley or dill

Arrange the cold roast meat on a platter or individual plates. For maximum flavor, take the meat out of the fridge about 10 minutes before serving to allow it to warm up a bit.

Add the greens and tomato slices. No dressing is needed for the veggies, but if you like you can sprinkle on a little salt and olive oil, or a few drops of mustard vinaigrette.

Place the mayonnaise, mustard and pickles in small dishes, and garnish the plates or platter with fresh herbs. Serves 4.

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