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.
It all started there decades ago: We were driving back from Salon de Provence where we had spent sometime with my maternal grandparents and we were heading home which was in Tours at that time. There is a big obstacle in the way, a very wide mountain range called Le Massif Central - The Central Range could be a translation. There was no freeway at the time and only a road on each side of the Rhone river, one called the Nationale 7, now doubled by the A& freeway and the Nationale 6 on the west side of the Rhone. We drove down via Roanne and the N7, but on the way back, the traffic was horrendous with trucks and other vacationists, so Dad decided to go via the N6 instead and rather that heading to Roanne again, he decided to explore another route...
Once he was on that road and Mum had calmed down a little about the change of plan(!) he stopped to look at a map (a real one, no iPhone then...) and decided we could reach the charming Lamastre in time for dinner. He then checked the Michelin guide and decided that we would stay and eat dinner at the Hotel du Midi. There was obviously no telephone nearby to reserve and we went on the odd chance that we would find a room and a table...And we did!
And what a dinner we had! I can't recall what we had as a starter, but we surely had one, and then we had the specialty of the region: Poulet aux morilles et à la crème - We probably had some cheese but I certainly remember the dessert: Fresh raspberries with guess what? More crème fruit!. Mum and Dad obviously enjoyed some wine, but again nat the time it was beyond my care!
So when my children asked me what I would like them to cook for my birthday dinner last night, I thought it would be nice to try to make that recipe as a tribute to my late father, but also because I knew I could get some beautiful morilles (morels) from my friends at Commissary Kitchen...
In essence, the recipe is a glorified Chicken Fricassée with lots of shallots and garlic, as well as plenty butter and cream and a good dose of Chardonnay. It was cooked in the versatile Australian frying pan, which is conveniently located under a good light, so we could easily record the process for your benefit! So here it is without further delay...
My Birthday Dinner - Ceviche of scallops for starters!
My Birthday Dinner - Poulet aux Morilles - Chicken fricassee with Morels
My Birthday Dinner - Fromage et Dessert!
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading through my birthday celebrations....But there is more cooking on the way as I got a new set of "casseroles" as a present and I have been recently appointed as the exclusive Architectural Sales representative for a new brand of kitchen appliances from Italy!
SMH GROWERS MARKET - PYRMONT
The market population of stallholders is pretty stable at this monthly gathering. But today, the attraction is on stage again as we are meeting the legendary Stephanie Alexander, the godmother of Australian cuisine, launching a new revised and augmented edition of her most famous book "The Cook's Companion" which allegedly graces the shelves of 600,000 kitchens. SMH ran out of copies to sign before 9.30 am when I got there for the second "apparition" on stage of "Sainte Stephanie of the Kitchen"! I have been a regular at her Richmond Hill Café & Larder in Melbourne and my friend Janine S. works occasionally for her Kitchen Garden Foundation, now active in almost 800 schools around Australia, but I had never met her in person. Well this is no longer the case as of last Saturday!
KINGS CROSS ORGANIC MARKET
I have not visited this market for a while and having dropped my daughter at Bills in Surry Hills, it was an opportunity to zoom by before heading back home. It was still quiet as it was before 10.00am, but most of the usual suspects were there with the notable addition of my friends from Commissary Kitchen
and that will be the start of the French Corner!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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