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Cooking with 'The Cooking of Southwest France'

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#1 bleudauvergne

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 01:23 AM

As many of you are aware, Paula Wolfert's new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France, Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine has been recently released. For those in the France Forum who are not aware of Paula's influence in the English speaking world, Paula's original edition in 1983 of The Cooking of Southwest France was a first in many ways: Her work was the first to introduce to average American home cooks on a grand scale the concept of French regional cuisine. Not only was it an introduction, but a warm and friendly beckon for us to join her as she worked her way through the Southwest of France and its treasures that took American home cooking by storm; easing us into an anecdotal but at the same time thorough and rigorous approach to a careful selection of recipes from the Gascogne Languedoc and Guyenne.

Many of us have cooked through Paula's original book and of course many are delighted that she has taken the time to return to the region in her new edition. She has revisited, refined, and expanded on the original tome, continuing the stories she began in her original edition, with the addition of 60 new recipes, and an expansion of her regional coverage to include the Auvergne.

Susan Fahning (aka snowangel), Elie Nassar (aka foodman) and I would like to start this thread in which everyone is invited to join us in cooking our way through Paula Wolfert's new release. This thread is the place to include your notes, and share with us photos of recipes you have prepared from it. This thread will begin in the France forum and eventually be moved to the Cooking Forum.

A group of eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters members were asked to test certain recipes for this new edition, and we hope those who tested recipes will share their cooking notes for any recipe that appears in the final edition. This is a "cooking with" thread, so please concentrate on the recipes in the final edition and save general discussion of the testing process itself for the upcoming eG Spotlight Conversation with Paula Wolfert, which will take place from 14 to 18 November, 2005.

#2 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 01:33 AM

Great idea, it will be interesting to see the differences in the sourcing (of ingredients), ideas, techniques, and feedback between those of us over here in the US and those of you over in France, and anyone else who joins in for that matter.

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#3 Woods

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 02:21 AM

As many of you are aware, Paula Wolfert's new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France, Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine has been recently released. For those in the France Forum who are not aware of Paula's influence in the English speaking world, Paula's original edition in 1983 of The Cooking of Southwest France was a first in many ways: Her work was the first to introduce to average American home cooks on a grand scale the concept of French regional cuisine. Not only was it an introduction, but a warm and friendly beckon for us to join her as she worked her way through the Southwest of France and its treasures that took American home cooking by storm; easing us into an anecdotal but at the same time thorough and rigorous approach to a careful selection of recipes from the Gascogne Languedoc and Guyenne.

Many of us have cooked through Paula's original book and of course many are delighted that she has taken the time to return to the region in her new edition.  She has revisited, refined, and expanded on the original tome, continuing the stories she began in her original edition, with the addition of 60 new recipes, and an expansion of her regional coverage to include the Auvergne.

Susan Fahning (aka snowangel), Elie Nassar (aka foodman) and I would like to start this thread in which everyone is invited to join us in cooking our way through Paula Wolfert's new release. This thread is the place to include your notes, and share with us photos of recipes you have prepared from it. This thread will begin in the France forum and eventually be moved to the Cooking Forum.

A group of eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters members were asked to test certain recipes for this new edition, and we hope those who tested recipes will share their cooking notes for any recipe that appears in the final edition. This is a "cooking with" thread, so please concentrate on the recipes in the final edition and save general discussion of the testing process itself for the upcoming eG Spotlight Conversation with Paula Wolfert, which will take place from 14 to 18 November, 2005.

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Wonderful idea. I think the two editions of this book are of the best cookbooks in the last 30 years. I tend to like books that present food in its social/cultural context. I would love to be involved in cooking our way through. Woods

#4 raisab

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 06:31 AM

This sounds like fun! I just ordered the book. I may be late in starting as my book won't be here for about a week and I won't be back until the 17th. What is the official start up date? And do you have guidelines yet? Thanks!
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#5 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 10:46 AM

Excellent! I tested a number of recipes and will look forward to contributing... I'm going to take some time to see if I even kept some of my photos. I'm dashing off for the afternon but will post some thoughts later this evening!

#6 kitwilliams

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 04:04 PM

I had so much fun participating in the testing for this book and have just made my first attempt at a recipe from my brand-spankin'-new copy! The Creme de Potiron or Autumn Squash Soup with Country Ham and Garlic Croutes is delish (I'm devouring soup and bread as I type)! Recipe on page 67 and photo on 197 (notice that gorgeous bowl in which it is served!). I used kabocha. No Bayonne ham to be found so used Prosciutto. And, best of all, I still have some duck fat in the freezer, leftover from when my friend and I tested Paula's Torchon of Foie Gras Poached in Duck Fat page 242, so the croutes have a hint of foie gras clinging to them as well!

Velvety smooth, the mild sweetness of squash, saltiness of the ham, a clip of fresh chives...don't forget that hint of nutmeg. My broth was salted (Paula lists using un-. I didn't need to add any additional salt so, should you use salted broth, take great care in your seasoning! Or be a good cook and follow the expert's instructions!

Hint: make a LOT more than just one croute per person! Personally, I don't like to use spoons with soup...just give me bread, and garlicky, duck fatty, toasted baguette is the best spoon you'll ever eat!

Going to do Roast Chicken Stuffed with Garlic Croutons in the Style of the Correze over the weekend.

Who's next?
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#7 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 02:24 PM

One of the first recipes I tested was the Marie-Claude's Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel (page 378). It was a recipe that was not in the original edition but as Paula is a tremendous admirer of Marie-Claude Gracia (as she indicates), she wanted to make sure that the combination of chocolate and salt was a good as she remembered it...

It was -- and the little reference to "the friend who tasted the cake [and] said all it needed was some creme anglaise, a few raspberries, and a glass of Ruby Port" was me as that is how Shawn and I ultimately dressed up the cake for a dinner party. On its own, it is more of an ultra-rich brownie with the fleur de sel bits providing a textured contrast to the rich chocolate. The garnish and wine-pairing heightened the contrast that already existed in the cake.

#8 Swisskaese

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 02:57 PM

I just received my book today and I can't wait to try more recipes.

David (Tapenade) and I tested something very close to Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.

Here are our notes (written by David):

"We just made the Chicken with Cepes (more or less) according to your recipe, and have the following to report:

On our gas stove, which has slightly low gas pressure, and using a 30cm teflon saute pan, it took about 8 minutes to get the skin side crispy, and another 4 minutes for the other side before going on to the next stage. I would personally choose to use a deeper cast iron pan with teflon coating, or a Creuset, next time. Even a nice heavy clay pot would do well.

As you know, we keep kosher, and so used butter-flavoured margarine instead of butter. I would want to try this next time with a mild olive oil, or half oil and margarine. There was no need to skim off the fat after cooking the chicken, as I had already taken off most of the surplus fat from the meat while cleaning the chicken pieces.

We used a mixture of real cognac (it turned out I only had about 1 Tsp left in the bottle, as I occasionally drink the stuff) and Israeli brandy, which was absolutely fine. The wine we used was an Israeli Emerald Riesling, which is semi-sweet but definitely not heavy (and we made some Kir to quaff during the cooking phase with what was left over from the cooking).

The white mushrooms were already ready in less than five minutes, so we added the dried cepes after 3-4 minutes instead. And because we weren't using cream, and the stock was still pretty liquid, I made a roux with 1 Tsp of flour and 2 Tsp of water, added 2 Tsp of the hot chicken-mushroom liquid and the water from soaking the cepes, and added that to the mushroom mixture. We added the chives-parsley mixture to the chicken pieces in the pan just before serving, rather than dusting the pieces on the plate, and served with cauliflower and green beans steamed al dente.

It's an extremely easy recipe to prepare, and delicious on the plate -- we drank a new Golan semi-sweet white (the grape types, unusually, weren't listed, but I'd guess a mixture of Emerald Riesling and Colombard), which went very well with the chicken. I, personally, found the taste a little too delicate, and would have preferred to add about 50 percent more shallots and cepes to make the taste a bit more pronounced. I think a little thyme or even sage would go well, added to the mushroom mixture. I would also serve it with a rice and wild rice mixture (preferably brown or red rice, because this dish needs a complement that has a little crunch to it), together with the haricots verts and perhaps steamed baby carrots. Michelle initially thought of asparagus, but I think it would clash with the chicken-mushroom flavours: on the other hand, it could be a very good first course.

All in all, we both loved it, especially because so little effort produced such wonderful tastes, and we look forward to making it again, and again. But I would like to try other mushroom varieties as well (such as the forest mushrooms we have here), which I think would add more intensity to the flavour."

Edited by Swisskaese, 10 October 2005 - 09:49 AM.


#9 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 06:44 PM

Don't feel badly, Michelle -- another recipe I tested -- or, I should say, "revisited" -- was from the original edition; Alain Dutournier's Duck Breasts with Capers and Marrow.

It was a complicated recipe where a spice paste was composed of juniper berries, black peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, Izarra or green Chartreuse liqueur, Dijon mustard, and salt. The duck was marinated in this odd blend, cooked with little red wine vinegar, dry white wine, and served with marrow and capers.

We basically decided that the recipe was too labor-intensive and just too odd tasting for modern-day palates. My boyfriend really liked it, but the combination of flavors was (as Paula put it), "a bit too sci-fi" to be really approachable.

#10 chefzadi

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 10:03 PM

For those in the France Forum who are not aware of Paula's influence in the English speaking world, Paula's original edition in 1983 of The Cooking of Southwest France was a first in many ways: Her work was the first to introduce to average American home cooks on a grand scale the concept of French regional cuisine. Not only was it an introduction, but a warm and friendly beckon for us to join her as she worked her way through the Southwest of France and its treasures that took American home cooking by storm; easing us into an anecdotal but at the same time thorough and rigorous approach to a careful selection of recipes from the Gascogne Languedoc and Guyenne.


Yes, Julia and Paula. I did not know of them in France. And coming from France when asked the question, "do you know who they are?" I was a bit confused. But when I read about the contributions to the American culinary scene and the availabilty of ingredients that I take for granted now... I know how important they are. I'm writing (riding) on their coat tails (or apron strings) in English.

As for French cuisine in French I have Lyon to answer to... :smile:
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#11 Swisskaese

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 01:08 AM

Don't feel badly, Michelle -- another recipe I tested -- or, I should say, "revisited" -- was from the original edition; Alain Dutournier's Duck Breasts with Capers and Marrow.

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I don't feel bad. I was honored that I could test a recipe for the book.

As a writer myself, I understand that Editors and space in the book are a factor.

Edited by Swisskaese, 10 October 2005 - 01:13 AM.


#12 Swisskaese

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 09:46 AM

It turns out that variation of the dish I tested is in the book. It is Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.

Edited by Swisskaese, 10 October 2005 - 09:49 AM.


#13 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 12:08 PM

It turns out that variation of the dish I tested is in the book. It is Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.

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Don't you just LOVE Pineau???? Paula introduced me to it and I am completely addicted although I have yet to have the gumption to COOK with it! <glug-glug>

#14 Smithy

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Posted 11 October 2005 - 12:49 PM

It turns out that variation of the dish I tested is in the book. It is Chicken Thighs With Pineau de Charentes on page 155.

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Don't you just LOVE Pineau???? Paula introduced me to it and I am completely addicted although I have yet to have the gumption to COOK with it! <glug-glug>

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I have yet to taste Pineau! I tested the same recipe but used a mix of cognac and chablis, based on Paula's suggestion for a replacement. It tasted wonderful and flamed even better, but I don't know how it would compare to the Pineau de Charentes.

I'll look around and see if I still have my notes. Michelle's and David's are much more thorough than mine, so I may not have anything to add except the caution: this flamed really high when I lit it, and the cook should be prepared. Since then I've known to not only stand back, but also to be ready to protect the cabinets above the skillet by having a skillet lid ready to slam down over the pan if the flames get too high. Having said that, I'll say that the flaming step was great fun! My husband heard me whooping in the kitchen and wondered whether he should come investigate, but wisely decided to stay clear until I called him to dinner.

I have cooked and served the Chicken Thighs with Pineau des Charentes (with the substitution as noted above) to dinner guests. They loved it as much as I did.

This thread is a really great idea. I look forward to working my way through more recipes in good company.

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#15 Steven Blaski

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 10:41 PM

Just got my copy in the mail today -- it felt like Christmas! The original edition is one of my favorite books -- of any genre -- of all time. Congrats to all the eGulleteers who participated in the making of the new edition (and of course to Paula :biggrin:) .

I spent all evening trying to figure out what recipes had been dropped, which new ones were added. I was happy to see the éclade of flaming pine needles made the cut -- I've always thought that recipe was a hoot!

I noticed that the country bread and brioche recipes are both absent -- anybody know why?

Now that I'm living in Virginia, i.e. ham heaven, I'm wondering if I can substitute the fabulous local salt-cured country hams for the Bayonne? Paula doesn't recommend it, but it seems like it would work. I thought it would be great in the autumn squash soup mentioned upthread. Any opinions?

Steven

#16 kitwilliams

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 11:15 PM

I've only had a salty Virginia ham once in my life, Steven, sent to us one Christmas from my grandpa in Charlottesville. Oh how we treasured every bite. I imagine it shredded into small bits, fried crispy/chewy in the duck fat and sprinkled onto that velvety soup.

And when did you say you'd be serving it ?????????!!!!!

Don't forget...make lots of extra garlic croutes!
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#17 Anna N

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:52 AM

My copy is on order but will not arrive until mid November. I combined it with a DVD for hubby to take advantage of the free shipping and the DVD has a November release date. :sad: So I am hoping that this thread will be rolling for a long time so I can join in when my copy finally arrives.
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#18 bleudauvergne

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 05:59 AM

Don't worry, Anna! I suspect it will take awhile to work our way through the entire book! :laugh:

I recently decided to do the Rognons de veau poeles au confit d'echaolotes, Veal Kidneys Garnished with Shallot Confit, on page 278.

The recipe calls for very fresh veal kidneys, and I was able to get one from the butcher. He at first said he didn't have any but then remembered that they were carving up a calf that day and could give me one. Since I was only cooking for two, I accepted this. I arrived and he removed the kidney from the carcass and showed it to me. The kidneys for this recipe should be left intact and whole. My butcher asked me if I wanted the kidney prepared, and I said yes, but didn't realize what he meant by that. What the butcher does to prepare them is to open them up, flatten them out, and remove the fat deposits from the inside. I caught him when he was about halfway done, so he had already cut it open. I explained what I was doing so he did his best to keep it in tact.

Posted Image

I called another butcher to see if he had any, and he said he did. Comparison by sniff test of the kidneys from different sources gave me an important lesson on how to identify a very fresh veal kidney. The very fresh one smells clean and has no unpleasant odor at all. Make sure that the kidneys you use for this dish smell clean and fresh. (I chucked the other one - there was a very big difference!)

The thing that attracted me to this recipe was the simplicity.
Posted Image

The confit of shallots was easy to do and I did mine in the oven in a bowl rather than on the stove top.
Posted Image

Finished shallots ready for caramelization before serving:
Posted Image

Normally the kidneys are not split down the side, and cooked in one piece. But we make do with what we can get!
Posted Image

While the kidney is resting, the shallots are finished.
Posted Image

The dish was tender and flavorful, although my presentation was a bit messed up by my not being able to thinly slice the kidneys on a diagonal for a better presentation. I could completely visualize Paula's description of the final serving process, and plan to do it right next time! My husband and I both felt the dish was excellent in flavor. I think I may have gotten away with serving them more rare than I finally did serve them. In fact next time I might caramelize the shallots in another pan while the kidneys are cooking, to make sure I don't have to let it sit too long. I felt that the kidney continued to cook in its own heat while it was resting.
Posted Image

My recommendations:
Don't let the butcher touch the kidneys because you want to remove the fat that you can while keeping it in tact be able to pan fry them whole.
Save the duck fat you've used for the shallot confit because it takes on a wonderful flavor and can be used for other things.
Timing is delicate so have your guests seated at the table when you put the kidneys in the pan, you want to work fast at the end to make sure this arrives at the table warm.
Don't forget to heat the plates! We do this at our house by spraying a stack of plates with water and heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds on high, then wiping with a dishtowel.

I give this recipe a serious thumbs up! Can't wait to do it again! :laugh:

#19 raisab

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 07:50 AM

Lucy, your meal looks beautiful as always...but, even though I have eaten chicken kidneys before and I will eat raw Foie Gras, I think I would have to blind test calves kidney! Call it an American thing, even though I grew up eating things like brain fritters, cow tongue, liver, and pigs feet, I can't fathom eating the kidney, especially medium rare. Can anybody help me get past this? This looks like a dish my husband would love!

Anna, Amazon usually ships things as they are available even with free shipping. Check on your order status, it may be in the mail already! Mine was mailed out yesterday along with Paula's bookl on Mediterranean cooking.
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#20 touaregsand

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 07:51 AM

Looks delicious Lucy. Did you have wine with it?

#21 muichoi

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:43 AM

How different is the new version? a wholesale reworking or a minor revision. The original is magnificent.

#22 FoodMan

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:57 AM

Lucy, these look awsome, I love the color and the presentation actually. Boy I wish it is as feasible for me to buy fresh veal kidneys. My butcher said he only gets them in bulk for some local chefs sometimes, since no one buys them. Unfortunatly I have no way of using up 10 pounds of veal kidney...unless I hold a veal kidney bbq of some sort :smile:.

I tested two recipes for the book, the "Short Ribs with Cepes and Prunes" and the "Stuffed Duck Neck". Both made it into the book and I am glad to see Paula made small changes based on my notes. I am pretty sure I still have the notes on at least one of them. I will post those as soon as I can find them.


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#23 ludja

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:23 AM

self-edited to save discussion for Paula's upcoming Q&A.

Edited by ludja, 13 October 2005 - 10:48 AM.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#24 FoodMan

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:45 AM

How different is the new version? a wholesale reworking or a minor revision. The original is magnificent.

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This is a good question to ask Paula during her upcoming eG Conversation, calendar entry here. Let's not steer too far away from recipes and cooking on this thread. Please hold the general discussion about the book for later when Paula is available." We can allow Paula to elaborate on all the work she's done for the new edition.

Thanks,
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#25 mikeycook

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:12 PM

I cooked just over half of the recipes in the original, so I expect to participate in this as well.

The Creme de Potiron or Autumn Squash Soup with Country Ham and Garlic Croutes is delish (I'm devouring soup and bread as I type)!

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Funny, the squash soup is the first one that caught my eye. I am either making it tonight or tomorrow (using Jambon de Bayonne and Acorn Squash).

Also, I am planning to make Michel Bras's Stuffed Onions for Thanksgiving this year.
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#26 FoodMan

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 01:56 PM

Here are my notes about the "Braised Short Ribs with Prunes":

I finally made this recipe and we had it for dinner last night. It was excellent. It had wonderful flavor, very deep and complex. The prunes, of which I was a little skeptical, worked great with this dish. All in all a winning recipe. That being said I do have a few comments mainly to clarify a few things:
Prep time: about 45 minutes
Cooking time: about 4 total

• The only “problem” with the recipe, and I use this term very loosely since it really did not affect the outcome, is that there was too much solids in relation to the liquid especially during the marinating period. It was impossible to keep ALL solids submerged in six cups of wine. Either the solids should be reduced a little or the liquid increased.

• In the ingredient list you specify a cup of thyme sprigs tied into a bundle…..It was clear to me that you meant to wrap the whole thing in a piece of cheese cloth, but it might not be apparent to everyone who reads it and tying peppercorns in a bundle might be tricky . So just some clarification will be good.

• I did not need to use any lemon juice or verjuice, I thought the acidity was perfect.

• In step 5: 3 hours might be way too long to braise the ribs. Mine were done in two and
• came out very tender. You also might want to move this line “Set aside the skillet without washing for use in the next step” to the end of step 4 since people might already wash it by the time the ribs are being braised (I did).

• In step 6: I love the skimming process you have in here, it works great!!! However, isn’t it a good idea to reduce the sauce in a metal pot instead of the earthen dish that might be used for braising? I used my only clay pot to braise, a Chinese sand pot, but to reduce it I was too worried it might crack so I put the sauce in a metal pot and continued to skim and reduce.

• In step 7: it is a little unclear here. Where did the casserole come from? In step 6 we put everything (ribs and sauce) in a “container”. I assumed you meant to put everything back in the casserole braising dish and that is what I did but the step needs to specify that.

Please let me know if anything I said does not make sense or is not clear. I enjoyed this dish very much and look forward to making it again.


PS: I could find fresh Porcinis so I used regular white mushrooms. I did use the dried Porcini in the marinade though.

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#27 carswell

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 03:47 PM

Received my copy of TCOSWF last week but have not had time to read through it. On first glance, it looks really impressive — a must-buy for anyone with the slightest interest in the region and its food.

On the weekend, I celebrated the book's arrival by making the Casserole of Moulard Duck Breasts with Potatoes as Prepared in the Region of the Bigorre: Partially cook duck breasts in a skillet, then set them aside. In a casserole (I used a well-seasoned cast iron chicken fryer), cook thinly sliced sweet onion and diced ventrèche (pancetta) in some of the rendered duck fat. Add peeled and thinly sliced red potatoes, turn them in the fat, press down to form a disk, and cook until the slices begin to brown. Turn and press again, cover and cook over low heat. Repeat, adding a bay leaf. Repeat, adding salt and pepper. Repeat, adding chopped parsley and garlic. Slice the duck breasts crosswise. Place the slices atop the potatoes, season, cover, raise the heat and cook 2 to 3 minutes. As you might expect, this dish was rustic, warming and tailor-made for a bottle of Madiran. It was also easy to put together in under an hour. And it looked almost as good as the photo in the book. The only hitch (and a minor one at that) was that some of the onions were blackened by the end; however, they were easy to pull out.

I had the good fortune to test several recipes for the book in the summer and fall of 2004. The most involved was the traditional confit of duck. Others included the sous-vide duck confit ("confit lite" was how Paula referred to it); duck breasts cooked on a string; an early version of the duck breasts with mulberry cream; two or three potato recipes; and the Salt-Cured Pork Belly with Fresh Fava Bean Ragout. The others I'll discuss in future posts. For now, I'll follow other testers' lead and append a slightly edited version of my comments on that amazing pork belly.

A description of the dish: The recipe comes from Jean-Pierre Moullé, whom many here will know from his days as a chef at Chez Panisse. You start four days out by brining the pork belly in a mixture of water, salt, sugar, bay, allspice, clove and pepper. On the fourth day, you put the belly on a bed of onions, carrots, garlic and fennel in a roasting pan, add sweet wine, cover and braise in a medium oven for 2 hours, then uncover and roast for another 30 minutes. After cooling, you cut the belly into 4-ounce portions, which are then reheated on a grill pan and served atop a ragout of fava beans, artichoke hearts, fennel, pancetta and shallots.

My comments:

First, and most important, I thought the dish was fabulous, as did my guests. The meat was unbelievably succulent and flavourful, easily the best pork belly I've encountered. (Tellingly, one of my guests, an eat-to-live type with a tiny appetite, raved about the dish and actually asked for seconds.) The ragout was the perfect foil, earthy, savoury, subtly complex. In other words, the recipe's a winner and one I'll be making again.

The cooking went smoothly, exactly as you describe, with one exception. That was the skinning of the favas, which I had enlisted two of my guests to help with. The problem was, the beans didn't pop out of their skins as advertised. On reading the recipe, I had wondered whether the favas were to be kept frozen until the last minute; on rereading it, I concluded they probably were; and when I asked my guests for their interpretation, they agreed with frozen but felt that the script was ambiguous. [Paula later confirmed that they were to be peeled while frozen. She also provides an alternate peeling method in the book.]

Anyway, we didn't have time to let the favas defrost so we peeled them while they were frozen, finding that we could warm them in our hands, slit the skin with our fingernails and  then squeeze the beans out by applying pressure at various places around the edge. In other words, it was quite laborious. My two helpers spent about 15 minutes before I sat down to help them for another 10 minutes or so, whence the 50-minute figure in the work times below.

I should mention that my favas (gourganes in Québécois) were locally grown and purchased at the farmers' market, where they're sold only in baskets. A medium-size basket held around 6½ pounds of beans in their shells; that in turn worked out to a generous 4½ cups of shelled beans. Also, I didn't wrap them in freezer-proof paper but put them in a tight-fitting Ziploc freezer bag.

I used an inexpensive Mont St-Croix [a Sauternes-like sweet wine] for cooking the belly.

I made the dish while house-siitting for some vacationing friends. I knew they had a ridged grill pan but, the night of the dinner, couldn't find it. So I fired up their gas barbecue and finished the meat there. It went supremely well; the crust on the meat was first-rate and the slight smokiness added another layer of flavour, so this is something I'll do again. The downside was having to run back and forth between the grill and the stove, where I was finishing up the ragout. Also, with such fatty meat, flare-up is a potential problem on a grill, meaning you have to keep an eye peeled at all times.

Maybe we were big eaters, but after serving four at dinner, I found there was one and a half servings of leftover meat and about two and half servings of leftover ragout. For the first leftover meal, I wrapped the meat in foil and reheated it in the oven and reheated the ragout on the stove. It was good if not quite as scrumptuous as the night before; the meat was drier and the flavour less complex while the ragout was mellower, less vibrant. My vacationing friends got to taste the dregs of the ragout, however, and proclaimed it excellent.

I wondered about wine pairings and so opened two reds by way of experiment: a Clos de la Briderie 2002, Vielles vignes, Touraine-Mesland and a Domaine du Clos du Fief 2002, Juliénas, Michel Tête. Both were excellent but the first — a fruity blend of cabernet franc, cot (malbec) and gamay — achieved real synergy with the food and got the Thunderbird award (first bottle emptied). With hindsight, I can see one of my favourite Gaillac reds, Domaine de la Causse Marine's Pérouzelles, making a fine and more regionally appropriate match.

Work time: 121 minutes
- shelling favas: 15 minutes
- preparing brine: 7 minutes
- turning and drying off belly: 5 minutes
- preparing veggies and belly for roasting: 12 minutes
- browning belly, draining fat: 5 minutes
- skinning favas: 50 minutes
- preparing other ingredients for ragout and garnish: 15 minutes
- cooking ragout and cutting/grilling belly: 10 minutes
- final assembly (on individual plates): 2 minutes

Unattended cooking time for pork: 155 minutes
- cooking under wrap: 120 minutes
- browning: 35 minutes

Unattended cooking time for ragout: 10 minutes


Edited by carswell, 13 October 2005 - 08:10 PM.


#28 Anna N

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 05:10 PM

...

Anna, Amazon usually ships things as they are available even with free shipping. Check on your order status, it may be in the mail already! Mine was mailed out yesterday along with Paula's bookl on Mediterranean cooking.

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:sad: No, it is still showing a ship date of November 8. I suspect that Amazon.ca won't ship until the order is complete. But thanks anyway.
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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#29 bleudauvergne

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 04:41 AM

As noted in the first post, I have moved this thread from the France forum to the Cooking forum for further posts on recipes that we prepare from Paula's book. :smile:

#30 JPW

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 05:35 AM

Now that I'm living in Virginia, i.e. ham heaven, I'm wondering if I can substitute the fabulous local salt-cured country hams for the Bayonne? Paula doesn't recommend it, but it seems like it would work. I thought it would be great in the autumn squash soup mentioned upthread. Any opinions?

Steven

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Steven,
The recipe I tested included Jambon de Bayonne that was marinated in milk to even out the flavors. I am sure that the same method would help to take the edge off the saltiness of the country ham. In the substitution, I would probably be more worried about aligning the texture of the country ham with the rest of the dish than the flavor. But in the soup, I don't think that this is a big concern.

I'd be happy to taste test for you if you're uncertain about results. :biggrin:
If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W





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