Category Archives: France

Amarger mash

Farm cooking from La Lozere region in France. An imprecise recipe!
Floury potatoes, peeled and cooked for mashing, reserve cooking water.
FInely chopped cabbage, boiled until just soft in the same water.
Mash all together with some lard and add enough of the cooking water so the whole has a fairly loose consistency. Season lightly.

Coq au vin (serves 6)

This is Helle’s signature dish for our holidays in France.

100 g lardons (mild unsmoked bacon)
2 tb butter
1 kg chicken, jointed, dried thoroughly
1/2 tsp salt
80 ml cognac
1 bottle full-bodied red wine
about 400 ml chicken stock
1/2 tb tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
onions & mushrooms as boeuf bourguignon recipe (with which coq au vin shares a strong family resemblance)
3 tb flour
2 tb butter

In a casserole saute bacon in the butter, set aside. Brown the chicken pieces over high heat in the same fat. Return the bacon to the dish, season, cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning chicken once. Pour in the cognac and ignite with a match while shaking the dish. Add wine and enough stock to cover. Add tomato paste, garlic, herbs, bring to a simmer, cover and cook slowly for half an hour until chicken is done. Remove chicken.

Simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes, skimming off the fat, then increase heat and reduce to about 600 ml. Adjust seasoning and remove from heat. Blend butter and flour into a paste and whisk into the sauce. Bring to a simmer for a minute or 2, until thick enough to coat a spoon.

Return the chicken to the dish, add the onions and mushroom and heat through to serve.

Source: Julia Child ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’

Boeuf bourguigon (serves 6)

Staying in a classic French vein, this bears reheating and freezing.

200 g lardons (mild unsmoked bacon)
1 tb oil
1.2 kg lean stewing beef, cut in 50 mm cubes, dry with paper towels
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tb flour
1 bottle full-bodied red wine
at least 500 ml beef stock
1 tb tomato paste
2 cloves garlice, crushed
1/2 tsp thyme
bay leaf
18 – 24 small onions, peeled
1 1/2 tb butter
1 1/2 tb oil
125 ml beef stock or wine
bouquet garni
400 g button mushrooms
2 tb butter
1 tb oil

In a large casserole saute lardons in the oil, remove with a slotted spoon. Saute beef, a few pieces at a time until browned on all sides, set aside. Brown the vegetables. Pour out the fat and return the bacon and beef, add salt and pepper, add the flour and toss lightly to coat. Put in 230’C oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return for a further 4 minutes. (This browns the flour). Remove casserole and reduce oven to 165’C.

Add wine and stock to just cover the meat, add tomato paste, garlic, herbs. Bring to simmer on the stove, cover and return to oven. Simmer slowly for at least 2 1/2 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Saute onions in butter & oil over moderate heat for about 10 mins until onions are evenly brown. Add braising liquid & bouquet garni, cover and simmer slowly for 45 mins until onions are tender but retain their shape, and liquid has evapourated.

Saute mushrooms carefully in butter, oil and a sprinkling of salt over a high heat, tossing frequently, for around 5 minutes. Remove them from heat as soon as they are brown, they should not give up any liquid.

Tip casserole into a sieve, wash out and return the beef and bacon to it. Add onions and mushrooms. Simmer sauce for a couple of minutes, skimming off the fat. There should be about 600 ml of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon. Adjust seasoning. Pour back into the casserole, bring back to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve with buttered noodles or potatoes.

Source: Julia Child ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’

Ratatouille (serves 8)

Do not overcook as the vegetables should stay whole and distinct.

3 onions, thinly sliced
250 ml oil
3 large aubergines, cut in 1 cm chunks
3 red peppers, chopped
3 courgettes, cut in 1 cm chunks
4 large tomatoes, skinned, chopped, drained
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted & ground
fresh basil or parsley, chopped

Salt aubergines and courgettes, put in a colander and cover with a weighted plate to press out liquid.

Fry onions in oil until soft. Add augergines, courgettes, peppers, garlic, cover pan and cook gently for 40 mins. Add tomatoes and coriander, season, cook another 30 minutes, possibly uncovered if there is too much liquid in the rat.

Finally stir in the fresh herbs.

Source: Elizabeth David ‘French Provincial Cooking’

Onion soup (serves 4)

Not quick to make, but a meal in itself. The goal is a velvety, evenly coloured soup, so use a good heavy pot and take care during cooking to avoid it catching.

600 g thinly sliced onions (yellow or white), outer layer removed
3 tb butter
1 tb oil
1 tsp salt
3 tb flour
2 l stock
125 ml dry white wine
3 tb cognac

Heat butter and oil in pan until foaming has subsided (this means the optimum temperature is attained), add onions and cook slowly, covered, for 15 mins. Uncover, raise heat to moderate, add salt, cook 30 mins until onions are golden brown. Stir frequently. Add flour and cook 3 mins. Remove from heat and stir in stock and wine, season. Simmer partially covered for 30 mins. Add cognac right at the end.

And for the croutes:

4 slices french bread
garlic clove
grated gruyere

Toast both sides of bread under the grill, rub one side with garlic, sprinkle with cheese, return to grill until melted. Place one on top of soup in each bowl, serve.

Source: Julia Child ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’

Georg’s Faux Gras with Gewürztraminer jelly

Had something similar with real foie gras in Alsace, delicious. Tried to emulate it with ethically slightly more correct chicken livers, which took a bit of research and experimenting. The result is not the same but a great dish in its own right.

faux gras

300 grs chicken livers
100 ml full fat cream
200 grs butter
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
15 grs dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms 
3 tbsp cognac or brandy
1 tbsp port or sherry
1 tbsp english mustard
white pepper

Finely chop the onion and garlic, fry slowly until translucent. Finely grind the dried mushrooms in a food processor, then simmer with half of the cream for 10 minutes. (Fresh mussrooms might work equally, they would need to be fried with the livers.) Clean the livers of any white bits and dark spots, chop and fry with the onions until done. Add cognac and port and turn heat off immediately. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a fine mush. Adjust seasoning, maybe add a bit of cognac if necessary. Pour into little ramekins and refrigerate.

The surface will go green when stored in the fridge, so if you want to keep it for a few days it is best to cover it with a thin layer of clarified butter.

Gewürztraminer jelly

1/4 l Gewürztraminer or other aromatic sweet dessert wine
50-100grs sugar according to taste
agar agar powder (quantity according to instructions of your brand)

Simmer the Gewürztraminer with the sugar and agar agar for three minutes. Pour into a flat bottom container about half a centimeter high. Refrigerate. Remove and cut into thin strips and serve with the paté.

cuisine sauvage

Claire Girard
Pra Boyer
05150 Montmorin
+ 33 4 92 66 03 37

Brilliant low-key place (gite) to stay, up in the hills amongst derelict orchards. Home-grown, home-made food (she wrote her own cookbook – “Ma vraie nature , Les recettes d’une femme sereine”). Even has 2 donkeys for atmosphere.