France Culinary Travel Diary – La Dordogne (Part 2)

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – La Dordogne (Part 2)

There’s so much so say about this department of France that I simply couldn’t squeeze it all into one installment. If you’re not the market faring kind but want to sample the Dordogne’s bounty of famous produce, then visiting one of its countless restaurants is a must.

By no means do you need to dine in the most fancy establishments to eat well either, as when the produce is local and seasonal even the more humble restaurants can serve a quality meal without breaking your budget.

That being said, if you are in the Trémolat area and can justify treating yourself to a Michelin star meal (you only live once!), then I highly, highly recommend you making a booking at Le Vieux Logis. A boutique hotel and gourmet restaurant belonging to the acclaimed Relais-Châteaux group, you can enjoy a degustation dinner with matching wine for €115 or there’s an à la carte menu to choose from. The food is beautifully presented and tastes exquisite, and the service is faultless but personable.

20150502_200831   Confit Salmon in walnut oil

20150502_201833Green asparagus topped with Crab and Fennel

20150502_211922Quercy lamb with broad beans, “ail des ours”  and Pistou

20150502_204921Grilled Turbo, oyster “Meunière” and Foie Gras

20150502_222644“Gariguettes” strawberries, meringue and violette chantilly

20150502_225029Amuse Bouche with our coffees

As delicious as the dining is at Le Vieux Logis, my favourite place to eat in the Dordogne doesn’t have a Michelin star, nor is it fine dining. It’s a rustic, family run restaurant in the charming town of Cadouin, called Le Restaurant de L’Abbaye, and I know the food is great because this happens to be where I completed my cooking apprenticeship! Every meal starts with their house specialty Tourin à l’ail (garlic soup), their menu is full of country classics like magret de canard, foie gras, and salade perigourdine and their mousse au chocolat is a guilty pleasure I treat myself to every time I visit. If you’re travelling in the summer months, a booking is essential.

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As a special treat, the head chef of the Restaurant de L’Abbaye has kindly agreed to share the recipes for both his garlic soup and chocolate mousse. Look out for them on the blog in the coming days!

My top Dordogne picks:

  • Le Vieux Logis -Le Bourg 24510 Trémolat 1 Michelin star
  • Restaurant de L’Abbaye – Place de L’Abbaye 24480 Cadouin
  • Chez Julien 24510 Paunat
  • Chez le Gaulois 9 rue Tourny 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda

Lamb Pasta Bake with Tomato & Cheese Sauce

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The wonderful team at Barilla has treated me again with a sneak preview of some of their latest products. This time it’s their new pasta bake range which is fantastic for those casual dinners with family or friends as it’s hearty, cost effective and most importantly, delicious!

Some pasta bakes can be quite heavy on the cheese so I’ve kept this one lighter by only using parmesan cheese as the very top layer to add a nice crust as opposed to stirring a cheese all the way through.

 

Ingredients:

  • 500g Barilla Casarecce pasta
  • 1 Jar of Barilla’s new cheese and tomato sauce
  • 1kg lamb mince
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 8 slices mild pancetta (2-3mm thick)
  • 2 onions
  • 350mL red wine
  • 4 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 Tbsp Peter Watson lamb spice mix
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 250 g parmigiano reggiano

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Method:

  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove for the pasta and preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 8 minutes, then drain and keep aside.
  3. Peel and dice the onions, crush the garlic, chop the thyme and rosemary. Roughly dice the pancetta and keep aside.
  4. Preheat a metal roasting tray on the stovetop on a medium heat.
  5. Cook the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, and then add the thyme, rosemary and pancetta. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the paprika and lamb spice, stir, and cook for a couple of minutes.
  7. Add the red wines and reduce by about ¼.
  8. Add the lamb mince and cook until brown, making sure you don’t have any big lumps.
  9. Add the Barilla cheese and tomato sauce and the crushed tomatoes and 150mL water, stir then add the cooked Barilla Casarecce pasta, mix well and top with the grated parmigiano reggiano and bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes covered with foil, and then 5 minutes without it.
  10. Serve hot with a green salad

 

With this wonderful dish I recommend a Château “Falfas” AOC Cote de Bourg available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au .

Lamb Persillade with ratatouille

lamb ratatouille_lefermier_021014

 

Ratatouille, like many French dishes that are considered “classics” today, started life as humble peasant food, in this case a simple mix of abundant, in season spring/ summer vegetables. Today, opinions are divided as to how to cook the “perfect” ratatouille, but really, the most important part of this dish is the quality of the produce you are using to make it with.

 

My preference is always produce that has been grown locally and as free from chemicals as possible, with the exception of tomatoes which I don’t mind being canned, as long as the only thing in the can is the tomatoes themselves.

 

Purists will say that the original dish didn’t include eggplants, but I quite like the meaty quality they add to the dish so I’ve included them here. Good news is, if you’re not a fan, you can leave them out and still have a delicious dish on your hands.

 

I’ve paired my ratatouille with delicious lamb persillade, but it’s a truly versatile dish enough so that you can eat it hot, cold, as a side or as a meal on it’s own and it goes perfectly with fish too – so enjoy it your own way and bon appétit!

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Ingredients for the Ratatouille:

 

  • 2 eggplant (diced)
  • 3 zucchini (diced)
  • 1 red onions (sliced)
  • 2 red capsicum (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves (grated)
  • 1 bunch thyme (chopped)
  • 2 tins crushed tomato
  • 4 fresh tomatoes (diced)
  • 400 ml vegetable stock

 

 

Method: Place a deep cooking pot on a high heat with a little bit of olive oil in it. Once heated turn the heat down to medium and ad the sliced onions, grated garlic and chopped thyme. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the onions have browned, stirring from time to time. Then add the diced capsicum and cook for about five minutes, until the capsicum softens a little. Add the diced zucchini and the diced eggplants and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomato and the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 25 minutes on a low to medium heat. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat and adjust seasoning if necessary.

 

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Ingredients for the persillade:

 

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 100 g coarse breadcrumbs

 

Method: Wash, dry and chop the parsley. Peel and grate the garlic then combine it with the parsley and the breadcrumbs. Lay down the lamb cutlets on a board and season well with salt and pepper. Dust the lamb in plain flour, dip it egg wash (egg , milk mix) and coat the cutlet with the persillade mix. Heat up a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil on a medium heat. Place the lamb cutlets in the pan (depending on how many cutlets you have, you may need to do more than one batch, as you don’t want overfill the pan). Cook on each side for about 3 minutes. You’ll see when they are ready to be turned, as the persillade will be golden and crunchy. Turn them and cook for a further 3 minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on how big the cutlets are. An easy way to know is if you slightly cut one of them, the meat should still be pink and juicy. Allow the cutlets to rest for a minute or so then serve with the ratatouille.

 

Wine Note: A fresh Rosé is perfect to compliment this dish in the warmer months. I recommend a “Chateaux Minuty” cote de Provence, Available from http://www.airoldifinewines.com.au .