The Thomas Keller Library—comprising The French Laundry, Bouchon, Under Pressure, Ad Hoc at Home, and Bouchon Bakery—is available in all ebook formats for the very first time. To celebrate the digital publication of these cookbooks, every week we will highlight a different recipe and excerpt from each of the five books. This week, we’re highlighting Ad Hoc at Home.
In Ad Hoc at Home, a cookbook inspired by the menu of his casual restaurant Ad Hoc in Yountville, California, Thomas Keller turns his imagination to the American comfort foods closest to his heart—flaky biscuits, chicken pot pies, New England clam bakes, and cherry pies. In fun, full-color photographs, the great chef gives step-by-step lessons in kitchen basics—here is Keller teaching how to perfectly shape a basic hamburger, truss a chicken, or dress a salad. Best of all, where Keller’s previous bestselling cookbooks were for the ambitious advanced cook, Ad Hoc at Home is filled with quicker and easier recipes that will be embraced by both kitchen novices and more experienced cooks who want the ultimate recipes for American comfort-food classics.
Below, you’ll find an exemplar of Ad Hoc cooking, excerpted from the cookbook.
Split Pea Soup
with ham hock, fresh peas, and mint
This is at heart a classic split pea soup, with a big ham hock to flavor the stewing split peas, but rather than serving it as a rustic dish, it is pureed so that it’s smooth and velvety. Fresh peas, along with chunks of the ham hock and fresh mint, are part of the garnish. Serve this soup in the spring when peas are very, very sweet.
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
- 2 cups coarsely chopped leeks
- 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
- Kosher salt
- 1 smoked ham hock (about 1 pound)
- 3 quarts Chicken Stock
- 1 pound (about 2 cups) split peas, small stones removed, rinsed
- 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups peas (2 pounds in the pod), blanched
- ½ cup crème fraîche
- Mint leaves
Heat the canola oil in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, leeks, onions, and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a parchment lid (with a hole cut in the center) and cook very slowly, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
Add the ham hock and chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 45 minutes. Prepare an ice bath. Strain the stock into a bowl, discard the vegetables, and reserve the ham hock. Place the bowl of stock over the ice bath to cool. (The split peas will cook more evenly when started in a cold liquid.)
Return the cold stock and ham hock to the pot, add the split peas, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, or until the split peas are completely soft (do not worry if the peas begin to break apart, as they will be pureed).
Remove the soup from the heat, and remove and reserve the ham hock. Season the soup with 1 tablespoon vinegar and salt to taste. Transfer some of the split peas and liquid to a Vita-Mix, filling it only about one-third full, and blend on very low speed until pureed. (If you blend it on high speed, the steam could pop the lid off and send the soup shooting out in all directions.) Transfer to a bowl, and puree the remaining soup in batches. Taste for seasoning, adding additional vinegar, salt, and/or pepper to taste if necessary. (The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. It will continue to thicken as it stands; add a bit of water or stock when reheating if it becomes too thick.)
Pull away and discard the skin and fat from the ham hock. Trim the meat and cut into ½-inch dice. (Refrigerate if not serving immediately; bring to room temperature before serving.)
To serve, reheat the fresh peas in a little water if needed. Drain and stir half the peas into the soup. Put the remaining peas, the crème fraîche, ham hock meat, and mint leaves in separate serving bowls, and serve the soup with the garnishes.
SERVES 6 (MAKES 8 CUPS)