Coq au Vin

 

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Coq au Vin is considered one of the all-time classic French recipes. Presumably, the original recipe called for Rooster, as the translation of the dish’s name is “Rooster in wine” but today it’s very much considered a chicken dish. This one-pot wonder is a delightful concoction of browned chicken, red wine sauce with salty pork lardons and mushrooms.

The best thing about this dish is that it tastes even better the day after you’ve cooked it because all the ingredients steep together overnight, making it a perfect dish to prepare in advance for guests or a busy week ahead.

More traditional recipes call for Burgundy wine, but I chose to make this recipe with Shiraz as I feel it gives the sauce more depth of flavour. There are some regions in France that use white wine for Coq au Vin, so really, you can feel free to experiment with your favourite grape variety.

Ingredients:

  • 1 free range chicken, around 2 kg and cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 litre red wine (I used shiraz but burgundy or Bordeaux are also popular choices)
  • 1 Bouquet garni (Make a fresh one from thyme, parsley and bay leaves – no pre-made teabags!)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stick, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves
  • Peppercorns
  • 1 small glass cognac or brandy

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Method:

  1. Put the chicken pieces into a deep cooking pot. I like to use my Le Creuset Round French Oven for slow cooking.
  2. Add the celery, bouquet garni, brown onion, carrots, garlic, cloves, peppercorns, cognac and red wine. Leave to marinate for 5-6 hours or overnight in a cool spot in the kitchen.

For the Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 25g unsalted butter or duck fat
  • 40g plain flour
  • 4 slice pork belly rashers, diced or cut into Lardons
  • 350g button mushroom, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 brown onion, diced

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Method:

  1. Take the chicken out of the marinade, discard the vegetables and pour the remaining wine into a jug.
  2. Place the cooking pot on high heat and add the olive oil and butter (or duck fat). Place the chicken into the pot and seal on all side until golden brown. Remove from the pot and keep aside.
  3. Add the onion and lardons to the pot and cook until slightly brown.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the onion and lardons and slowly add the wine while whisking. Whisk well to make sure everything is mixed through.
  5. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 ½ -2 hours on a low heat with the lid on but slightly open to let the steam out.
  6. Heat up a non-stick frying pan without anything in it. Add the mushroom and cook until they stop releasing water. Add them the pot ½ hour before the end of cooking.

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Side:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch purple Baby Dutch carrots, peeled
  • 1 bunch Baby Dutch carrots, peeled
  • 1 bunch white Baby Dutch carrots, peeled
  • 12 Kipflers potatoes, cleaned, peeled and cut in half

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place the vegetables on a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with Herb de Provence and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 45 minutes or until tender.

I suggest you serve the coq au Vin with a fresh crusty baguette and a glass of EVOI Cabernet Sauvignon available from Airoldi Fine Wines.

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

 

Haricot Couennes

Haricot Couennes

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On my recent trip to France I had the pleasure of joining my Mum in her kitchen to prepare a family feast. For the main course we made Confit de Canard (Confit Duck Legs) and on the side, a dish I had completely forgotten about these past few years, but was overjoyed to be reacquainted with. Haricot Couennes is a slow cooked lingot bean dish (the same beans as used for a Cassoulet) with roughly chopped chunks of pork rind (known as Couennes), onion and herbs. The fatty pork rind injects oodles of flavour and the stewing process creates a rich sauce, just begging to be mopped up with crusty rustic bread. A traditional dish of the Dordogne region, it was the perfect garnish for our duck, but it would work equally well with a good steak, chicken breast or pork fillet.

Serve with a good red wine such as Hermitage or a Cote Rotie. Available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au (côte rôtie only).

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Ingredients:

  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 10cl white wine
  • 250g lard (pork rind)
  • 1kg haricot beans (unless you can find lingot beans)

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Method:

  1. Soak the beans in cold water the night before.
  2. Cook the haricot beans in salted water for about 1hour. You still want the beans to be a little firm. Once cooked, drain half the cooking liquid and keep the other half in the pot with the beans.
  3. At the same time, but in a separate pot, cook the lard in salted water but for ¾ of an hour, as this will soften the lard. Drain all the liquid and place the lard to the side.
  4. Heat up a large casserole pot (a Le Creuset or similar is ideal, if you have one) on medium heat with some olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook for a few minutes. Then add the tomato paste and cook a few more minutes, to get rid of the bitterness of the paste.
  5. Dice the cooked lard and add it to the casserole, give everything a good stir and deglaze with the wine.
  6. Add the beans and the cooking liquid. Cook for about 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

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

 

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!

Almond and Cherry Pithivier

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There’s one cooking show that I could watch endlessly over again. For me, it’s the perfect mix of Francophilic nostalgia, mouth-watering food and my style of cooking: rustic. It is…Rick Stein’s French Food Odyssey. If you’ve never had the pleasure before, you can find it online: www.amazon.com . You’re welcome.

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With its focus on French favourites, there are lots of dishes on Rick’s menu that were regulars at the dinner table growing up, but one that I have never tried was something called a Pithivier, and so, I decided to make one. My only regret…I shouldn’t have waited so long!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets butter puff pastry
  • 125g softened butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 125 almond meal
  • 15 flour
  • 2 tablespoon Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • 225 fresh cherries, stone removed

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Method:

  1. Cut a disc of puff pastry using a medium size plate (about 25 cm) for the bottom and a slightly larger one for the top (about 29 cm), using a larger plate. Rest them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. For the almond filling, cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and one of the yolks, gently add the almond meal, flour and Kirsch, stir until combine.
  4. Stir in the pitted cherries.
  5. Place the smaller disc on flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Spoon the almond mixture in the center and spread it to about 2.5 cm of the edge.
  6. Beat the remaining yolk with 1 tablespoon of cold water and brush the edges of the bottom disc. Place the larger disc on top of the filling and press the edges together to seal, pressing out any trapped air. Press the outside of the edges of the pastry with a fork to give it a attractive finish. Place the Pithivier in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (428F). Brush the top of the Pithivier with the rest of the egg wash, then with the tip of a small sharp knife, score radiating arcs from the center out towards the edge, taking care not to cut too deeply. Make a hole in the centre to let the steam escape.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius(428F), until the pastry puffed up and is golden. Then lower the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius(356F) and bake for a further 40 minutes or until a skewer pushed in the middle comes out clean. If it start to become too brown, loosely lay a sheet of foil over the top.
  9. To give the Phitivier a classic glazed appearance remove it from the oven, increase the temperature to 220 degrees Celsius (428F). Dust the pastry with icing sugar and bake for 4 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool slightly, then serve with vanilla bean ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
  11. I also recommend a glass of Chateau Viranel “Gourmandise” available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Apricot Tarte Tatin

 

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The story of the Tarte Tartin gives hope to everyone who is absent-minded in the kitchen. This “accidental” dessert is credited to the sisters Tartin who ran a hotel in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron, in France’s Loire Valley. One of the sisters, Stephanie, was known as an excellent cook but also a bit of a scatterbrain. As the most popular version of the story goes, one day she left the apples for her apple pie in the pan for too long and so they over-caramelised.

Not wanting to waste the apples, but wanting to hide the mishap, she covered them with tart pastry and placed the whole pan in the oven to bake. Once cooked, she flipped her concoction back over to serve in order to make it look like a normal tart.

If only every kitchen disaster could be such a hit with guests!

The great thing about this recipe is that it works just as well with any fruit that caramelises nicely. I was lucky enough this summer to have a bumper crop of apricots on my tree and they worked beautifully for this Tarte Tartin. Peaches also work a treat and for the savoury lover, some juicy cherry tomatoes rival their sweeter cousins.

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Ingredient:

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 50 ml water
  • 15-20 apricots
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 50 ml rum
  • 1 sheet butter puff pastry

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Put the sugar and water in a medium sauce pan, give it a stir and cook the sugar until it caramelize.
  3. Pour the caramel into a tart dish, glass or non stick is preferable, and make sure it covers the entire base.
  4. Cut the apricot in half, remove the stone and place them on top of the caramel cut side towards you. Once you’ve layed down the first layer of apricots, repeat the process once more. When you flip the Tatin you’ll see the nicer side of the apricots.
  5. Dice the butter and place it on top of the apricots. Pour the rum on top of the fruit.
  6. Place the pastry over the apricots, tuck the sides in and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Once cooked, leave it cool down a little bit then carefully flip it over. A good way to do it is to place a tray on top of the tart and using two towel flip in one move.
  8. I suggest you serve the Tarte Tatin with a delicious vanilla bean ice cream and a glass of Chateau “Suduiraut” Sauterne available from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au .