Several books have been written about the Cuisine Minceur (the slimming diet for the lack of a better translation). Both in France and elsewhere, it it is still not clear1y understood. Mostly, Cuisine Minceur is mistakenly or interchangeably used with Nouvelle Cuisine.
In fact, each is completely different in its objective.
Cuisine Minceur was created by Michel-Guerard, undoubtedly the most inventive of French cooks in the 1980’s.
Cuisine Minceur cooking eliminates largely, all types of fats or uses only in miniscule amounts. In this style of cooking the foodstuffs used must be absolutely fresh and cooked in ways to preserve their nutritive value is preserved to the extent possible.
It is a very calorie conscious method of cooking, and in most cases that consists of an appetizer or soup, sa1ad, main course and dessert,including an infusion of herbal tea. The entire meal generally does not exceed 600 -700 calories.
Michel Guerard belonged to the group of Paul Bocuse, the creator of Nouvelle Cuisine. The story is that Michele Guerard, born in Vertheuil, north of Paris, in 1933, was trained in Mantec in classic French Grande Cuisine cooking, that evolved over centuries, culiminating with A. Careme and the great A. Escoffier just to name the two most famous chefs. Not only did Guerard learn the basics of cooking, but he also completed a patisserie apprenticeship. Then he worked at the Hotel Crillon in Paris, first as pastry chef and then as a sous-chef. In 1965 after holding some more positions in various French restaurants, he opened his own restaurant in Aisnieres, a suburb of Paris. It is here that he met his
future wife Christine. Being involved in classical French cuisine, he was rotund and overweight- a fate many chefs suffer because of constant tasting of the calorie laden, rich cream and flour based sauces.
Christine suggested that he would look great if he lost some weight.It dawned on him that, if he was to have a chance of marrying Christine, he had to comply.
The long march or search
“started” for Guerard, looking for ingredients containing fewer calories – an ideal way to lose weight.
The search for new cooking techniques was long and ardous. But then again,nothing is ever achieved without great effort and imagination.
After three years of experimentation, the concept Cuisine Minceur emerged.
Today M. Guerard continues to create more techniques and ways to prepare and present his specialties.
M. Guerard owns the restaurant in Eugenie-les-Bain and caters to a highly appreciative clientele.He and his wife have been successful enough in their endeavour to affors the purchase of a sizeable vineyard in the vicinity of Eugenie-Les-Bains.
The techniques most frequently utilized in Cuisine Minceur are:
Cooking by “Searing”
Cooking by this method retains all the nutrients and the juices and caramelizes the exterior surface of the food being cooked. This is sometimes achieved by the addition of minimal quantities of fat, i.e. sauteeing and frying at other times, it is achieved by grilling or by roasting.
Searing can be achieved without browning. To achieve the browning effect, first the food is poached, or steamed,then using a non-stick pan to sear.
Cooking by “Interchange”. The food is quickly sauteed in a little very hot fat, and some liquid is added to finish cooking.
Interchange without browning is achieved by following the same technique as above, but without browning the food by sauteeing.
Grilling without charring is also an appropriate way of cooking. Foods are placed on very hot grills to achieve searing in order to preserve their juices and nutrients. Salt extracts juicesout of the food. While grilling, Salt and pepper half way through.
Never pierce food. This causes nutritious juices to escape. Cooking a 1’etouffee is another way of cooking a la Cuisine Minceur. This method requires poaching i.e. vegetables and fruits, with fine herbs (thyme, bay leaf, fresh or dried, tarragon, rosemary, just to name a few) in a covered pan.
Another way of achieving the same effect is by wrapping the food in aluminum foil- after adding either a little white or red wine or oil and sealing the envelope (en papilotte).The papilotte is then wrapped in aluminum foilor parchment paper after adding either a little white or red wine, or oil and grilling or under hot ashes.This technique intensifies flavour and preserves nutrients.
While roasting meat, use direct heat as this cooks the food without added moisture but it requires frequent rotation for uniform cooking. This can be done in an oven or on a turning spit exposed to heat vertically or horizontally.
After roasting, always rest the meat for at least 15 minutes, and preferably longer before carving.
This allows the blood which gravitates toward the middle of the roast to flow toward the outer layers of the meat, allowing fibers to re1ax and become more tender.
Prick poultry before roasting to allow fats to escape from the carcass.
Steaming is also frequently.It preserves nutrients.
Poaching is also a preferred cooking technique in Cuisine Minceur. It extracts fat. Always start poaching in simmering flavoured liquid to minimize nutrient loss.
The poaching liquid may or may not be perfumed (flavoured) with wine or any other aromatic food. This will depend on the preferences of the cook. Poaching makes food particularly easy to digest.
Soups in Cuisine Minceur are bouillons, broths and consommes (clarified broths) if rarely a cream soup is served its liason (binding agent) consists of low – fat cheese.
Sauces in Cuisine Minceur consist mainly of flavoured liquids devoid of fats. They are thin but adequately flavoured.
Salad dressings are usually made of light walnut oil and red wine vinegar and chopped fresh herbs but never mayonnaise-, blue cheese- or other creamy dressing.
Desserts generally consist of steamed fruits,or fruit compotes served in unsweetened liquids flavoured with aromatic herbs.
Pastries are rarely served.
The presentation of Cuisine Minceur dishes is always imaginativeand appealing, down to earth emphasizing wholesomeness.
Cuisine Minceur requires fresh foods prepared with minimal fat use.
This is the Cuisine for the overfed and obese, desperate to lose fat.