The quenelle is a dumpling of various different shapes and compositions found in traditional cuisine from several French regions. Thus, several types of quenelles include pike quenelles, the Lyon quenelles, quenelles of marrow and liver quenelles.
The word comes from the German Knoedel, Austrian and Bavarian specialty close to quenelles.
It seems that this is the proximity of ponds in the Dombes plateau, rich in fish of all kinds and especially pike, that led to the creation of quenelles in Lyon. The technical means used today to transport living fish were not yet known, pike were marketed in Lyon at very attractive prices for buyers, which could not fail to encourage its use for commercial purposes and bakers had the idea to incorporate in a preparation called “quenelle” or “godiveau”.
The pike was stripped, bones removed, it was pounded in a stone mortar with a wooden pestle. A pap made of cooked flour was added to it in milk or water, then rognolet (or fatty raw beef) chopped beforehand and, finally, seasoning and eggs added in small quantities at a time and at the end crushed for 30 to 40 minutes. According to the strength of the chef, a thick paste was obtained, in cooking terms called a “pilee”.
In Nantua, they have always been made with a minimum of 22% of pike flesh, making them tastier.
To shape the quenelles, the pilee was molded into small balls, which are cylindrical in shape and elongated, it was obtained by rolling by hand on a table sprinkled with flour before poaching in hot water. Once, the pastry chefs were the only ones making quenelles that they sold at their store, either natural or prepared.
On a Sunday morning, Lyon people had the habit of going to the bakery with a pan in which the quenelles and tomato sauce were put to cook. Affluent customers, for special occasions, bought a fluffy pastry for vol-au-vent. This is Joseph Moyne, son of a butcher, who recreated the recipe of Lyon quenelles, devoted to its glory and made famous. Around 1903-1904, he settled and proposed everything from sausage to pastry through main dishes and fine wines. After the 1914-1918 war, he teamed with a chocolate maker named Rousseau. Five years later, he invented a more digestible quenelle than that practical and sold it under the name of diet quenelles, finer with a more elaborate recipe. He replaces the rognolet with butter and the dough, more cooked, becomes more like custard. As the pilee is less consistent, softer, harder to roll, he had the idea to cut the dumplings using two special spoons that give them the well-known form, pointed at both ends. Immediately, this is a success.That’s how the bakers saw themselves deprived of a monopoly in favor of the butchers.
The quenelle is a culinary specialty of Lyon. The paternity of the Lyon dumpling is claimed in 1907 by Louis Légroz, at the deli Au Petit Vatel in Lyon. The quenelle is made with the mandatory use of semolina or flour, butter, eggs, milk and / or water and seasonings.
Dough of quenelle, called “pap”, is first prepared with flour or semolina and water or milk. The pap is heated to be dried, and eventually cooled. Before being eaten, the quenelles are prepared in tomato sauce, béchamel or crayfish (prepared with crayfish sauce, carrots, celery, and cognac, they call it Nantua sauce). They are often browned. Quenelles double in size during their preparation.
For 6 people:
600 g of pike or white river fish
1 egg yolk
1 whole egg
60g softened butter
200 g cream
1 cube of broth Maggi or homemade
60g crayfish pureed or crayfish concentrate
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 L of milk
1 dl cream
Salt and pepper.
Melt the butter and crayfish butter in a small saucepan, sprinkle with flour and cook 5 minutes while stirring.
Wet milk, add the cream, allow to thicken for about ten minutes, stirring.
Grind the flesh of the pike in a blender. Season and return to the mixer.
Carefully remove all the bones that could be left.
Always in a blender, add the egg yolk and the egg, butter and cream.
All ingredients should be very cold.
Shape quenelless with a spoon, poach 12 to 15 minutes in the broth at 70 ° C (do not exceed 80 ° C).
Turn over every 3 or 4 minutes.
Immerse in cold water, if possible with ice, to stop the cooking.
Drain on absorbent paper.
Place the quenelles in a dish, pour the sauce Nantua and put in the oven at 180 ° C for 15 minutes.
Finally … Serve hot with rice and a bottle of white wine of Savoy.