Arbre is a small municipality near Floreffe in the province of Namur, Belgium. Here, amidst the wonderful, lush, green of the Ardennes, you will find Pierre’s restaurant with its two Michelin stars. Having initially chosen to study Greek and Latin, Pierre later decided that he wanted to become a chef and went to catering school. He pursued an impressive career, working in famous restaurants until 1990, when, on the way to Floreffe, he fell upon the perfect building for his own restaurant. He has since been awarded two Michelin stars, and Pierre is completely taken with veal. He works with it a lot: “I love working with the kidneys. I remove part of the layer of fat and after I have mixed it, I wrap it around the kidney again; then roll it tightly in a cloth made from nettles. When you fry it the next day, the flavour is incredible. I never use bones to make stock, instead, I use the meat off the shanks that I prepare like stewing meat. The liquid is beautiful for making sauces. I have veal on the menu in as many ways as possible, the whole year round.” Pierre is full of tips about cooking with veal: “When you are frying the meat, make sure it gets a good crust. The temperature should never exceed 52°C/125°F and you should always leave the meat to rest for a while after it’s cooked.”
Blanch the sweetbreads, clean well, compress and put to one side. Wrap Cévennes (sweet) onions in foil and bake in the oven on a bed of coarse sea salt at 180°C/355°F. Remove onions from the foil and peel. Blend one onion until smooth and put in a small squeezable bottle. Slice the rest of the onions in thick rings; dip in flour and deep-fry until golden brown. Cook the pearl onions in water until done, slice in half and fry the flat side until nice and brown. Wash the wild mushrooms, dry well and fry in sizzling butter until golden brown. For the gravy, reduce the bouillon and the coffee beans and licorice root, strain through a fine-mesh sieve and season to taste. Divide the sweetbreads into portions, season with salt and pepper, lightly cover each side with flour and bake in sizzling butter until golden brown. Place in the centre of the plate surrounded by the various vegetables, add droplets of gravy to finish.
Blanch the calf’s head and rinse very well. In the meantime, make a bouillon with the spices and vegetables, and use it for cooking the calf’s head. Leave it to cool in the bouillon. Pull off the meat, press into rings and leave to cool even further. Cut the potatoes into 8, 5mm slices, and boil in salted water until done. Slice the anchovy fillets in half, put half of a fillet with a slice of potato on the bottom, and on the top of the meat, the return to the fridge. Bring the parsley juice with agar-agar to the boil, cool slightly and pour a thin layer into the rings that are filled with the meat. Allow to set. Soft boil the eggs and peel carefully before cutting the top off. Remove the ring from the meat, put on the plate with the egg and serve with a nice salad, some capers and the tartar sauce.