Poule au Pot

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In the fifteenth century the Gascon-born French King, Louis IV, famously said in his coronation speech something along the lines of, “I want every peasant to have a chicken in their pot on Sundays”. Well, far be it from me to deny the wishes of an ex-sovereign, so today, I bring you this simple recipe that’s perfect for feeding the family, Sunday or otherwise.

Just like the pot-au-feu recipe I’ve shared previously, you can use the broth from the pot that remains at the end of cooking as an entrée and then serve the meat and veggies for the main.

What really brings this dish to life though is the sauce gribiche. The capers and cornichons give it a tang that complements the chicken so well!

 

Poule au Pot serve 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 litres chicken stock
  • 3 slices smoke bacon (2cm thick)
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 3 celery stick, cut into short lengths
  • 2 turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 4 small leeks, trimmed, cleaned and cut into short lengths
  • 1 small head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 5 bayleaves
  • 6 slices thick sourdough (2.5cm)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 free range chicken ( 2-2.5kg)

Method:

  1. Put the chicken stock, slices of bacon, vegetables, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves into a large pot, bring to the boil and leave to simmer while you prepare the stuffing for the chicken.

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For the stuffing:

  • 50g chicken liver, chopped
  • 125g white breadcrumbs
  • 120g rindless thick slice smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 30 shallots, finely chopped
  • 20g chopped parsley
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt

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For the vegetables:

  • 12 medium carotts
  • 12 small turnips, trimmed and sliced
  • 12 small potatoes, similar size and peeled
  • 12 small shallots, peeled
  • 6 small leeks, trimmed, cleaned and cut in 3-4 pieces

Method:

  1. Mix the chicken liver, breadcrumbs, bacon, garlic, shallots, parsley, eggs and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Season the inside of the chicken and spoon the mixture inside.
  3. Truss the chicken securely with cooking string.
  4. Add the chicken to the pot, making sure that it is submerged. Add I teaspoon of salt, bring back to the boil and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken over top up with boiling water if necessary, but don’t dilute it too much and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile preheat the oven at 150 degrees Celsius. Place the slices of bread onto a tray and leave them for 20 minutes to dry out in the oven, but not brown.
  7. Lift the chicken out of the pot, remove the first lot of vegetables and discard.
  8. Return the chicken to the pot, add all the vegetables and bring back to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes and then the vegetables and chicken should be cooked.

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Sauce Gribiche:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon capers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoons cornichons, chopped
  • 1 hard boiled egg white, finely chopped
  • 1 hard boiled egg yolk, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped.

Method:

  1. Whisk the mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl, then gradually whisk in the olive oil.
  2. Stir in the caper, cornichons, egg white, egg yolk, parsley and some salt and pepper to taste.

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Serving suggestion:

  1. To serve lift the chicken onto a board a cover with foil. Put the dried slice of bread at the bottom of a soup bowl, cover with stock and eat as a first course.
  2. Carve the chicken and cut the bacon. Place some vegetables, chicken, bacon and stuffing on a plate. Drizzle with some stock and serve with the sauce Gribiche.

I suggest you pair this classic dish with a “Close Planted” Pinot Noir 2012 from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Watch the how to video below or visit my Youtube channel  here for more.

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Tourin Blanchit a l’Ail: Traditional French Garlic Soup

Tourin Blanchit a l’Ail: Traditional French Garlic Soup

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There is an old French tradition whereby garlic soup is given to newlyweds in the wee hours after their wedding night, possibly because it’s thought to be an aphrodisiac, but more likely to aid digestion after a night of feasting and merriment!

I don’t know if this is still observed today but I love the idea of a food being a remedy for too much other food, and garlic does feel as if it has a restorative quality to it. In fact, a Frenchwoman who immigrated to Australia in the early 1960’s told me the only place she could find garlic here back then was in the pharmacy! Times may have changed, but the French still love their garlic soup.

Serve as a starter for any meal or freeze and save a serve for when you’re feeling under the weather to pep you up.

Ingredients:

  • 300g Peeled Garlic
  • 100g Unsalted Butter
  • 60g Plain Flour
  • 350ml Thickened Cream
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • Salt and Pepper

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Method:

  1. Blitz the garlic in the food processor until it forms a paste or chop it as finely as possible with a knife if you don’t have a food processor.
  2. Heat up a medium size cooking pot on medium heat with the butter. Add the garlic and cook it for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the base of the pot.
  3. Sprinkle the flour on the garlic, just enough so that it forms a loose paste. You may not need all the flour. The more you add, the thicker the soup will be.
  4. Fill up the pot to ¾ with water and bring the soup to the boil while whisking. Turn the heat down to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the egg white while whisking as this way you’ll have little bits of egg through your garlic soup and it also helps to blend everything together.
  7. Serve hot with some thin slices of toasted baguette.

 

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

 

Short Bread

Short Bread

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Shortbread started off with very humble beginnings – as the slow cooked off cuts of bread dough. Eventually, butter took the place of yeast to more closely resemble the shortbread we know and love today. With its buttery richness it’s not hard to imagine that shortbread was once considered a luxury and could only be afforded for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas or New Year’s Eve. A particular variety known as “petticoat tails”, flavoured with caraway seeds was apparently a favourite of Queen Victoria.

For this iteration of the Scottish favourite, I used classic gingerbread cookie cutter shapes, which would be perfect to use if you’re cooking with the kids! For a more grown up version, you could create the classic shortbread fingers or the wheel shape sliced into triangles (i.e, the petticoat tails).

Ingredients:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 vanilla pod (seeds only)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (356F).
  2. Mix the sugar, diced butter (soft) and vanilla seeds in an electric mixer until the mixture become creamy and slightly white.
  3. Then add the egg yolk and whole egg and mix until well combine.
  4. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and add it to the butter mix. Mix on medium speed, until you have a smooth dough.
  5. Roll the dough on a slightly floured bench to the desired thickness, I recommend about 3-4 mm.
  6. Using a pastry cutter cut different shapes and place them on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or so until the sides of the short bread becomes golden. Cool them down cooling rack.

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Madeleine

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I often feel that much of the magic and romanticism surrounding French food lies in the mysterious origins of so many dishes. Factual histories become Chinese whispers, embellished and morphed along the way until each version has as many likelihoods and doubts as the next.

Madeleines are a perfect example of this, where the only thing we can be sure of is that they are truly scrumptious (and it’s probably also safe to say they were named after someone named Madeleine).

It’s accepted that these little cakes hail from the French town of Commercy, in the North of the Lorraine Region of France, and is now considered a speciality of the area. Beyond this, there is lots of conjecture on what the true origin of the Madeleine is.

One version claims that they were a family recipe, made by a cook named Madeleine, for her noble employer, Slanislaw L. Slanislaw’s daughter (and wife of Louis XV), Maria, shared them with the King who adored them and decided to name them after their maker. I like this version, but this doesn’t explain the unusual seashell shape, which is what makes this dessert so recognisable.

Another version, which is less romantic but explains the shape, poses that they were again made by and named after a cook called Madeleine, but this Madeleine was making them for pilgrims tracing the path through France to the final resting place of Saint-Jacques (St. James, the patron saint of Spain) whose symbol was the seashell.

While you’re mulling over your own thoughts on the matter, why not grab a coffee or tea and might I suggest adding the perfect petit-four to match – a Madeleine!

Madeleine:

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Ingredients:

  • 375 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs (medium size)
  • 250 ml full fat milk
  • 200 g unsalted butter
  • 500 plain flour
  • 15g baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla essence or 1 vanilla pod seeded
  • 50 g grated coconut
  • 1 orange zest

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Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven at 200-220 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, sugar, 50ml of milk and the vanilla, then add the coconut and orange zest.
  3. Sieve the flour and the baking powder.
  4. Slowly add the flour to the egg mix while mixing with a spatula.
  5. Once the flour is mixed through add the rest of the milk, and mix until the milk is incorporated.
  6. Add the warm melted butter and mix until combined.
  7. Lightly spray the Madeleine mould.
  8. With a spoon or a pipping bag place the mixture in the Madeleine mould and bake for 10 minutes. Take them out of the mould as soon as they come out of the oven and place them on a cooling rack.

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Serve the Madeleine warm for an afternoon tea or for an after dinner treat with a glass of Chateau Viranel “Gourmandise” available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au .

 

 

Lune Croissanterie: A crescent-shaped piece of France in Melbourne

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I love croissants. I ate them for breakfast every morning when I was growing up in France. My Mum would wake up before everyone else and pop them into the oven so that the rich smell of butter and pastry would fill our noses as we woke up and dressed for school. We ate them hot, crispy and with a cup of black coffee (once we were old enough).

Now in Melbourne, it’s amazing how many places sell croissants but how far they all are from tasting like the ones I ate as a boy. For the most part, I find them too sweet, too dense and too soft.

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You can imagine my skepticism then when Mrs. Fermier started raving to me about this little hole-in-the-wall croissant shop in the seaside Melbourne suburb of Elwood. She’d waited 1 hour in line and bought the last too croissants (they sell out every single day they are open).

In a word, they tasted like “home”.

As it turns out the master behind these edible little crescents is an Aussie-born but French-trained pattisière, named Kate. I had the pleasure of chatting to her one morning, and I learned that she even imports some ingredients from France to get the taste and texture of her vienoisseries just right. It’s no surprise that with such a dedication to quality ingredients and a clearly wonderful talent, every piece from Lune Croissanterie tastes like the real deal.

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It’s not just the basics that Lune nails. There’s a wide repertoire available including pain au chocolat, ham & gruyere croissants, specialties like Kouign-Amann (a Breton pastry pronounced “Ku-in A-mun”),“cruffins” (a mélange of muffin and croissant), and la pièce de la résistance, the “twice-baked”. Traditionally in France, left over croissants from the day before are filled with all manner of delicious things and then baked again. The Lune versions are only available on the weekend, sell out in a flash and come in ever-changing, mouth-watering varieties like Almond, Turkish delight and banana split!

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If you’re thinking about indulging in one of these baked pieces of heaven (as well you should be!), don’t even think about sleeping in and wandering down at about 10am on a Saturday. You’ll need to be waiting in line from at least 6:30am if you want your pick of the menu, but thankfully the amazing Lune team is busily making coffees for patient customers so there’s something to keep you going until they open.

 

Lune Croissanterie is located at 29 Scott St, Elwood and is opened Fridays from 7:30am, and Saturdays and Sundays from 8am, until sold out. http://lunecroissanterie.com