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The Cooking and Cuisine of Berry:Berrichon cooking


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Great suggestion by Chufi to add regional threads on cooking. I thought I'd start.

After spending six summers in the deepest Berry (halfway between La Châtre and Saint-Amand-Montrond), I learned a number of delicious recipes.

Our neighbors were farmers who had retired, so they no longer raised cows or goats, but they still had ducks, chickens, and rabbits in their basse cour.

Mme Bonin would kill whichever beast we were planning to cook that evening. And she always asked, "Je vous garde le sang?" (Should I keep the blood for you?)

She'd bring the animal over in a baking dish, plucked or skinned, with a bowl of its blood (dashed with red wine vinegar to keep it from congealing) in the other hand.

This led to the most delicious dish I have ever eaten (at least a couple of times a year):

Poulet en barbouille. Like a civet, or coq au vin thickened with blood. (And from experience, the chicken works better than the too-fatty duck or too-lean rabbit.)

A heavenly dish, so named ("barbouille" = "on se barbouille" = you get sauce all over your face...) because you want to lick your fingers. Thick, pungent sauce, with some grelot onions and chunks of bacon (lardons) and boiled potatoes served alongside.

Just one of the things I miss about the Berry, a curious, backwards region, but full of deep-rooted traditions I came to love.

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Another thing I miss from the Berry are the galettes de pommes de terre. (Not to be confused with the pâté de pomme de terre from the Bourbonnais, which is a big round puff pastry with sliced cooked potatoes inside, into which you pour crème fraîche and chives and put the pastry lid back on and reheat in the oven. Mm.)

No the Berrichon galette is simply a sheet of puff pastry with a layer of mashed potatoes and then another sheet of puff pastry on top. Bake until puffed and golden and cut into rectangles. Delicious as an apéro served warm. We also used to eat them for breakfast.

Another variant was the feuilleté de pomme de terre, which was a rectangle of a puff-pastry like thing with the potato incorporated into the dough. Not bad, too - a delicious version of this can be found at the Pâtisserie George Sand in La Châtre. My favorite of the other resides in Châteaumeillant.

I think the galette with purée in the middle should make a comeback as a hip apéro in branché places. :)

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