I know, the Tour is almost finished and I am far behind in my recipes. Life got in the way, in a good way that is, as I have signed a new client who I have been trying to work with since I started my business. So it is all good.
Episode 3 relates to Stages 10 and 11 which were based across the South West of France and the Pyrénnées, and what best recipe comes to mind from there? Rich, earthy, wintery and perfectly appropriate for my Australian readers who are still experiencing winter, although it feels like Spring today. It should include duck or foie gras, other meats and vegetables, so here it is:
You are not visiting my site to get told to buy a conserved Cassoulet, although some can be very good.
So how do we go about it, then? Well, first a word of caution as this recipe is expensive in terms of the time involved and the cost of the ingredients. It is also better cooked in large quantities, so if it's only you and your significant other, visit Jean-Marc at the Orange Grove Market and it will be quicker and cheaper. In my case with 4 or 5 people around the table, it starts to make sense, and in that particular case, I did it just for you my dear readers and a young man who stayed with us for a couple of weeks last year. Now, feel free to compensate me for my trouble with a good bottle of Bordeaux - my address is in the footer!
More seriously, you will need to buy some organic beans, some magrets or confit legs, some duck fat and some saucisses de Toulouse. See my choices below:
You will also need some onions, carrots and potatoes to garnish in the end.
Now that you have spent your good money on quality ingredients, it is time to use them properly, and that entails starting to prepare at least the day before you want to serve. If you can, add an extra day, so the cooked cassoulet can rest overnight and reheated on the day.
You need to first soak the beans in cold water overnight. But let's start with cooking the duck!
In my case, Commissary Kitchen did most of the work for me and I just had to re-heat the duck legs in plenty duck fat in the oven for half an hour. If you start from scratch, then slow cook them for 2 hours at relatively low temperature like 160 degrees. Rest overnight in the fridge.
After wnndering through northern France and the coast of Normandy to end up in Le Havre, the Tour started stage 7 in Livarot. That in itself could be a story, but my dear subscribers would have read my story - 12 cheeses, 12 villages quite a while ago, so i will only give you a glimpse of it here.
This is another village in Normandy, not that far from Camembert or Pont l'Eveque.
The Livarot cheese is the oldest in Normandy and is a soft, pungent, washed rind cheese made from cow's milk. It is both beloved and reviled for its earthy aroma. It was also referred in the past as "the meat of the poor" for its good nutritional values and also because it kept itself up to six months. It is quite easy to recognise on a platter with its orange colour and the five rings of straw, which has given its nickname of "le colonel".
A rich red wine like a Pomerol or a Saint-Emilion would be an ideal match.
I believe that some of the Barossa Valley reds would be quite a good match as well.
SAINT-PIERRE AU BEURRE BLANC NANTAIS
My son Grégoire, who is rarely with us on Sundays these days, asked me to make him either turbot or John Dory, "with that butter sauce" for lunch. Lucky me, I found some big, beautiful Saint-Pierre, the French name for it at the Sydney Fish Market this morning, and only had to follow my Mum's recipe for the "beurre blanc" - that butter sauce...
It was also fitting with the passage of the Tour through Brittany where this fish is abundant and Nantes where "beurre blanc" originated, is just on the South bank of the Loire, and Vannes is just a little further North.
I did add a few twists to the recipe, as I wanted to try my new Himalayan Salt Block bought at the Bastille Day Market (don't ask...) from my neighbours Salt Lamp Store, and also prepare some oyster mushrooms - pleurottes - with garlic and basil, a recipe I usually make with Champignons de Paris. Add some miniature Roma tomatoes for flavour and colour and "le tour best joué"...
Ingredients per person:
200 grams of Turbot or John Dory
15-20 grams of rice - I used Randall Organic Long Grain Rice
4 miniature Roma tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 stalk of basil
25 grams of oyster mushrooms
25 grams of butter - I used a combination of Lurpak unsalted and Pepe Saya Truffle Butter
1 table spoon of white wine vinegar
1 table spoon of white dry wine - I used a Macon Villages Chardonnay
The first thing to do is to heat up your salt block, on a small flame first, until the top is warm to the touch, and then full on to reach the cooking temperature of about 500 degrees Celsius.
Then, boil some water for the rice and peel your shallots and garlic and prepare the mushrooms
The Himalayan Salt Block is been heated on the gas flame and gives us a great show of colours
Now, it is time to start the "beurre blanc". For those of you that can read French - and my Mum's handwriting - then you are on your way. For the others (what's the name of someone who speaks only one language...) then here is the quite simple method "en images"
This year, Le Tour started in Flanders and wandered through Holland, Belgium and the North of France before moving further afield. Hence my inclination towards a staple of the local cuisine: Moules marinière, usually served with frites, or in English mussels with french fries. It is quite a simple recipe, but the skill is in mastering the broth and not overcooking the mussels, as well as cooking the frites properly, that is cooking them twice in very high temperature vegetable oil. By the way, olive oil is NOT to be used as it will degrade in the process and will not reach the proper temperature. I use canola oil for all my deep frying.
So,here is the recipe:
You will need per person:
500g of mussels
one shallot head
50 grs of crème fraiche
You could also use some coconut milk to give it an asian twist, with some fresh coriander
olive oil for the broth
one pack of good vegetable stock
one bay leaf, 1 clove, some garlic, optional
one glass of white wine (preferably French...lol), but we used a Californian one this time...
one good size potato
See the simple method "en images" below. As my camera is travelling in Europe with my daughter, all this photos have been taken with my new iPhone 6+. The results are quite amazing.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
A link here for our non-metric readers: