Quenelles have been around since ancient Roman cooks invented them. Many cultures have adapted them and today, they’re served as appetizers or main courses. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Quenelles were most often used as a garnish in consommé. In some parts of France, they’re covered with a sauce and placed under a broiler. In Lyons, quenelles de brochet are made with mousseline from Pike, a fish with very small bones. This method removes the bones and produces a delicious, light and airy dish served with a sauce. Below, you’ll see Paul Bocuse’s version with Sauce Nantua.
The quenelles are made with a panada paired with fish, vegetables or fowl, then poached in a rich broth to add more flavor. Using two spoons, the signature ovoid shape is formed before poaching. Today, that technique is used with ice creams and sorbets to form shapes for glamorous dessert presentation.
While the term isn’t applied outside France, gefilte fish are made as quenelles. Unfortunately, quenelles are not commonly made in North American home cooking. Their preparation is rather simple and easy, once you’ve become accustomed to the forming of the shape.
- force meat See Note below.
- Dip 2 tablespoons in hot water, and form oval shapes by filling each with the quenelle mixture.
- Cover the first spoonful with the second.
- Scrape the loose mixture from the sides.
- Loosen each quenelle from the spoons with a knife dipped in hot water, and drop gently into simmering water or soup as required.
- Alternatively, poach the quenelles.
- As they are so delicate, quenelles are generally only added to soup or any other dish at the point of serving.