Pot-au-Feu Traditionnel

Pot-au-Feu Traditionnel:

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Pot-au-Feu is a prime example that the most basic ingredients, cooked simply but to perfection, can make for the most hearty and satisfying meals. The unromantic could describe it as boiled meats and veg in broth, but the French have had a long affair with the Pot-au-Feu and you’d be hard pressed to find a family table, rich or poor, in France which it hadn’t graced at some point.

It’s one of those nostalgic meals that take me back to my childhood, and in this way, Pot-au-Feu seems like comfort food for the body and for the soul.

Ingredients:

  • 350g beef cheeks
  • 300g beef chucks (neck)
  • 300g ox tail
  • 1 brown onion (halved and chargrilled)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 2 turnips
  • 4 Dutch cream potatoes
  • 4 cloves
  • 10 peppercorn
  • 20g rock salt
  • 2 Bouquet Garnis (thyme, bayleaves, parsley)

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Method:

  1. Put the meats in a large cooking pot and cover with water. Place the pot on the stove and bring it to the boil. Once it starts boiling, gently scoop out the foam on the top of the liquid and keep doing so for about five minutes.
  2. Add the Bouquets Garnis, garlic, onions, peppercorn, cloves and rock salt. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 1½ hours on low heat.
  3. Meanwhile start prepping the rest of your vegetables. Peel the carrots, turnips and potatoes and cut into big chunks (keep the potatoes in water so they don’t oxidize). Chop off the green part of the leek and cut the white part in half.
  4. Then add the vegetables to the pot (except the potatoes) and cook for 1 more hour. Add the potatoes and finish off the cooking for 30 minutes.

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Serving suggestion: Place the meat in the center of a large serving tray and arrange the vegetables around it and serve with a side of Dijon mustard, Cornichons, Fleur de Sel (sea salt flakes) and chargrilled bread!

 

In true peasant food style, waste not, want not! Don’t throw out the beautiful broth that’s left in the pot. Once you’ve removed your veggies and meat from the pot, add some vermicelli egg noodles (or any other soup pasta that you fancy) to the liquid and cook until al dente. Serve this is broth as an entrée before the main event.

To watch the how to video on YouTube click here

Regional Cooking Part 3: Cassoulet

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The Cassoulet has to be one of my all time favourite French dishes, and, as Winter approaches, the one that I start to crave the most. Its heartiness makes it the perfect remedy to chilly winds and bleak skies and the fact that it freezes so well means you can make a big batch to then have it ready on hand in smaller portions when a cold day calls for it.

The original birthplace of this bean stew is claimed to be the town of Castelnaudary in the south of France, however slight variations are equally famous in the nearby towns of Carcassonne and Toulouse. Regardless of where it originated, it’s agreed that how it came to be, like so many other now-quintessential French dishes, was peasant food, born from the need to make something out of whatever was leftover or cheap.

The Castelnaudry Cassoulet, which is the version I am most familiar with, calls for confit duck, Toulouse (pork) sausage, haricot blanc or lingot beans, which are slow cooked and finished off under the grill so that a tantalising crust forms on top, right before serving.

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Cassoulet

  • 1 kg Haricot beans or lingot beans
  • 300g Kaiserflesh (smoked pork belly), diced
  • 250 g boneless pork shoulder, diced
  • 2 brown onions, picked with 3 cloves each
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 Toulouse sausages
  • 5 Confit duck legs
  • 1 tin crush tomato

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Method:

  1. Place the beans, chopped thyme, bay leaves, smoked pork belly, sliced garlic, cloves, onions and crushed tomato in a deep cooking pot. Cover with hot water and cook on medium heat until the bean becomes slightly soft.
  2. In the mean time, heat up a small frying pan with some olive oil. Season and Quickly seal the pork shoulder and sausages on all sides. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
  3. Pour the bean mix in a dip baking tray and place the duck legs, pork shoulder and sausages on top. Bake for 2 hours covered with foil and 1 ½ hours uncovered to crisp up the beans.
  4. Serve with a side of green salad and a Chateau Viranel “Saint-Chinian” available from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Bon Appétit

Le Fermier

 

Regional cooking Part 2: Roasted Duck Breast with Braised Red Cabbage

 

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In our modern day efforts to “eat healthy”, carbs have become the bad guy on many people’s dinner menus. While I definitely wouldn’t even go carb free personally (I’m a Frenchman so bread is in my blood!), I do feel some benefit to taking a break from it in my evening meal. This is relatively easy to do in summer, when the heat naturally has me reaching for fresh, light flavours, but come winter and the craving for richer comfort food must be satisfied.

This is where this ripper of a dish swoops in to save the day!

When most people think duck, their mind instantly goes to the peking variety, but the bird is also very popular in France and served just as one would serve chicken breast. Duck has a deeper and richer taste though, making it ideally suited to the colder months.

And, as I showed in my Two Ways With Cabbage post last winter, cabbage needn’t be relegated to coleslaw territory all year ‘round, as it’s delicious when cooked, adding an element of sweetness which complements almost any meat dish.

Ingredients:

  • 500g red cabbage , core removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 brown onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spiced
  • 250g apples diced (optional)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 duck breast

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Layer the cabbage, onions, vinegars, sugar, spices and apple if you decided to use them, in a casserole dish.
  3. Sprinkled the butter across the top, season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid or foil.
  4. Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius.
  6. Leave the duck breast out to warm up and reach room temperature. Using a sharp small knife score the duck fat, it will give it a great look and make it crispy. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat up a small frying pan on high heat. Start cooking the duck on the fat side. Once the fat has a golden colour, drain the fat and seal the flesh side of the breast for about 30 second. Cook the duck in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 8-9 minutes for medium rare.
  8. Leave the duck rest for a couple of minutes before slicing it. Spoon some of the cabbage on two plates and place the duck on top.

Bon Appétit

Le Fermier

 

Regional Cooking Part 1: Chicken Basquaise

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This Recipe is the first of my Regional Cooking series. Today we start with the South West of France. With this series i’ll show you the different flavours and produce of this beautiful part of France.

Chicken Basquaise is named after the Basque Country, a region that covers some of the border between France and Spain. The Basque are a very proud people, and as a whole, have long sought independence from both France and Spain. They have their own traditions, their own language and, of course, their own specialty dishes. While a simple chicken stew might not seem iconic, if this dish were to be made authentically, the key ingredient would be piment d’Espelette. Espelette peppers are native only to the Espellete region of the Basque Country and therefore only peppers grown there can be referred to as “Espelette” peppers. They are the only pepper designated as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée.

My Chicken Basquaise is an interpretation of the original. It’s a quick and simple dish so it’s easy for you to make it your own by changing what garnish you put with it, or what vegetables to include or subtract.

Ingredients:

  • 5oo g chicken thighs
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 2 red capsicum
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 1 yellow capsicum
  • 2 brown onions, diced
  • 5 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaves, parley stalks)
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 2 can crushed tomato
  • Pimenton (to taste)
  • Provençale herbs

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Method:

  1. Start by cutting your capsicums in strips or diced, dice the onions and crushed the garlic. Dip the fresh tomato in boiling water for 20 seconds then skin and dice them.
  2. Preheat a casserole dish on medium heat with olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and seal it on all side until golden, then set aside. You’ll need to seal it in 2-3 batches to avoid boiling it!
  3. Add the onions, garlic and bouquet garni in the casserole and cook gently for a few minutes until the onions soften. Add the capsicum and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Put the chicken back in, including the juices, add the white wine, crushed tomato and fresh tomato.
  5. Season with pimenton and Provençale herbs, or if you can find Piment d’Espellette, use it! It is normally available from good specialty food store like Essential ingredients. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes and serve with a Riz pilaf! You can also add chorizo to give it that extra kick!!!

Dijon mustard, Emmental and Tomato Tart

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Tarts, both sweet and savoury are a staple in French cooking with their crispy pastry and multitude of filling combinations. Generally, when you think of savoury tarts, you imagine delicate concoctions of quiche with some vegetables mixed through. For those who want an alternative that packs a little more punch or who aren’t a fan of the flavour of egg-based tarts, I present you with the following option. The ingredients here are super simple and require little more than to be layered atop one another and baked. There’s no beating or stirring in sight as the core ingredient that binds everything together here is cheese, delicious, melty cheese. Perfect as a gourmet upgrade to the humble pizza and just as great with your favourite beer.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 150g Emmental or Comté cheese
  • 4 medium tomato
  • 3 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • Provençal herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

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Method:

  1. Slice the cheese and the tomatoes and keep aside.
  2. Lay one sheet of pastry flat on your bench and brush it with an egg yolk mixed with one teaspoon of cold water. Lay the second sheet on top and gently press together. This will give your tart a crunchier finish. Lay the pastry over a tart baking dish and gently arrange it in the dish. Using a sharp knife trim any excess pastry.
  3. Spread the Dijon mustard at the bottom then place the cheese on top of it.
  4. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top in circular pattern. Sprinkle with the Provençale herbs, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius (392F) and serve hot.
  5. I recommend a glass of Chateau “La Manufacture” Petit Chablis to compliment this dish, available from airoldifinewines.com.au or if you prefer beer a delicious Pale Ale or even an IPA!

Daube de Boeuf with Cèpes mushroom

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It’s a strong belief of mine that delicious food doesn’t have to be expensive food, and a Daube de Boeuf is a prime example of this. Using a cheaper cut of meat but surrounding it with fragrant herbs and a long cooking time means you can save your pennies without scrimping on taste.

The Daube is a stew and derives its name from the pitcher shaped vessel it was traditionally cooked in, called a “daubière”. Don’t be intimidated if you’re fresh out of “daubières”, you can easily use any casserole dish.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.2kg blade steak
  • 2 brown onions
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 peeled carrots
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 cloves
  • 100 g pancetta, diced
  • 50 black olive
  • 150g dried cèpe mushroom

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Method:

  1. Cut the beef into 3-4 cm chunk.
  2. Put the beef, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, onions, Cèpes, garlic, carrots, cloves and red wine in a bowl. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours, stirring once or twice.
  3. The next day tip the meat in a colander over a bowl and leave to drain well.
  4. Heat a large casserole with a little bit of olive oil, add half of the beef and sauté until brown all over, seasoning with salt and pepper, put the meat onto a plate and repeat the process with the other half of the meat.
  5. Add a little more olive oil and fry the pancetta until golden, you can the end bit of serrano ham or prosciutto if you have some. Add the drained vegetables from the marinade and cook on medium heat until the onions are starting to soften.
  6. Return the beef to the casserole along with the marinade, black olives, 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper about 20 turn of the mill.
  7. Cook on low to medium heat lid ¾ on for about 2 ½- 3 hours until the beef is tender.
  8. Mix 100g of soften unsalted butter with 90 g plain flour until you have a smooth paste. This is called a Beurre Manie.
  9. When the beef is tender, stir in the beurre manie and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  10. As a side I recommend a delicious macaroni and cheese or steam potatoes. You can also compliment this great dish with a glass of  Côte Rotie “loss” Domaine Pichat  -available from airoldifinewines.com.au