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A visit to the wines and food of the Jura


SWISS_CHEF
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Hello everyone and welcome to our mini-blog on the wines and food of the Jura and the Franche-Comté!

My name is Ed and my wife Melanie and I have had a little love affair with the Franche-Comté region of France for many years now. For those of you that don't know this region of Eastern France prepare yourselves for a culinary journey into an area that is as rich in culinary history as any place in France. The food is totally unique to France and the wines even more so. This will be a journey into the very heart of French cooking and wine making. Ask any French person....they will smile and tell you how wonderful this region is. The wines are quite uncommon, they have an almost Madeira like quality. The most famous wine of the region is Vin Jaune and a quick google search will tell you more than I could ever hope to tell.

So, fasten your seat belts…because today we made a trip to Belfort and Montbéliard in the Northern section of the Franche-Comté and stocked up the larder with free-range chickens, fresh morel mushrooms and a dozen bottles of the Jura's finest wines. The batteries are charged in the digital camera and we are ready to go!

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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Where is the Jura and the Franche-Comté? (Pronounced Frawnsh Com-tey)

Our journey will include all of the Franche-Comté region of France including the Jura. Located in the eastern part of France, bordering Alsace to the north, Burgundy to the west, Rhone Alps to the south and Switzerland to the east. It is composed of four districts: The Jura, the Doubs, the Haut-Saone and Belfort.

As you will see the Franche-Comté is rich in culinary and wine making history as well as cultural tradition.

A map of the Franche-Comté

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Edited by Bux (log)
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Hello Swiss Chef-

I look forward to hearing and seeing more of your adventures in The Jura!

Ditto; we were over there just a bit ago and loved it. Be interested in what you like. Are you going to the Royal Salt Works and Arc et Senans and the "ideal town", it's one of the most wonderful undiscovered monuments in France. Worth a detour. Also interesting in terms of Ledoux's role in building the toll houses surrounding Paris.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Ed, I am so happy that you're doing this! The Jura is our favorite place to ski, the forests are so deep and lovely there. We get there whenever we can. If you look to the right side of the map, you'll see that we are but a stone's throw from you. I will absolutely love learning all of the treasures that the region has to offer from you, Swiss Chef! :biggrin:

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If you look at the map, you'll notice a blue "snake" from Belfort to southwest. It's the Saône which is a wonderful river for canal cruising on a chartered house boat.

It did a small section years ago on two boats with a couple of friends and kids. We shopped everyday in little towns and villages nearby and had wonderful lunches and peaceful in- and outdoor dinners when mooring somehere at the border of the Saône.

A highly recommended, contemplative way to visit this region.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and I am very glad to see some of you know and love the mostly undiscovered Franche-Comté!

We thought we would intersperse our tour with some of our own personal cooking experiments.

This is our first lunch of the tour using some of the traditional ingredients of the Franche-Comté that we bought yesterday. Fresh morels, free range chicken and Comté cheese.

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The lunch that Melanie and I have just finished was actually quite simple. It was breasts of free range chicken baked with jambon seché and Comté cheese....tempura morels and lentils du puy.

First let's start the lentils because they take the longest:

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Nothing more than onions, bacon, white wine and lentils.

Cook onions and bacon until they start to brown a little.

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Now add some wine to deglaze and reduce and add lentils and some water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat until the lentils ate tender which depends on the kind of lentils you use. Just keep testing them and add more water if you need to.

The aroma these lentils produce is so beautiful and typically French.

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Now on to the chicken...

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Take two chicken breasts and pound then out to about a centimeter thick. Place them on a cookie sheet and cover with the ham and slices of Comté cheese.

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About five or six minutes before you are ready to serve, pop them in to a hot oven until they are done.

The morels are dead simple. Make a mixture of seasoned cornstarch and flour and mix with enough water to make a light batter. Dip the morels in the batter then drop them into the hot fat until they are lightly browned and crunchy.

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Plate everything and serve with a white wine from the Jura like Vin Jaune.

The nutty flavors of the morels and the cheese go perfectly with the wine. And the lentils and bacon add a delicious earthy-smokiness to the combination.

Dessert was simply a cheese course:

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On the left is a 3 year old Comté that literally flakes apart when it is cut, on the right is a two year old Comté. The 3 year old is much more potent and concentrated than the 2 year old.

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mmmm, those mushrooms look excellent.  Do you make the dish with the chicken often?  What do you call it?  The lentils come from Auvergne but they are universal French ...  :smile:

Thank you all for your very kind words!

Actually, I have never made this chicken before...mushrooms either. I just invented it because I wanted to use the traditional ingredients of the Jura. It really is not a dish from the region....its sort of a quick 'version SWISS_CHEF' :smile: !

What will follow this weekend will be a proper 'Poularde de Bresse au Vin Jaune et aux Morilles' where I will take us step by step through the classical preparation of the dish. The dish is so important to the region that they even have a club called 'Confrérie de la poularde aux morilles et au vin jaune'! The flavor of the morels and the vin jaune are really super together.

More about the wines of the region to come also.

Ed

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Actually, I have never made this chicken before...mushrooms either. I just invented it because I wanted to use the traditional ingredients of the Jura. It really is not a dish from the region....its sort of a quick 'version SWISS_CHEF' smile.gif

Very nice! You used the produce of the terroir deliciously. I look forward to more.

I've been to the Jura, as Lucy mentioned it is but a stone's throw from Lyon.

I wonder if Boris stopped in Montmerle. I know he said he was on a chartered house boat. But I remember as a boy some of boats were sort of like Carnival cruises. :biggrin:

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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The Food of the Franche-Comté

I would like to give you a quick run down of the most popular dishes and the easiest way to do that is for you to visit this site that gives you a nice sampling of the most famous dishes (including recipes) of the region. We will cook the Tarte au Fromage and Feuilleté Comtois au Jambon today and tomorrow our big Sunday meal will be Poularde aux Morilles

The Wine of the Franche-Comté

A great site for learing about the wines of the Franche-Comté is here.

Today with the Tarte au Fromage and the Feuilleté Comtois au Jambon we will try an Arbois Rouge 1999 from Auguste Piroi 12.5% and an Arbois Pupillin Rouge 'Cuvée Générations' 1999 from Désiré Petit 12.5%.

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Tomorrow we will drink a Chateau l'Etoile 'Cuvée des Ceps d'or' 2000 13.5% and a 1998 Vin Jaune from Maison du Vigneron 14.5%. We will use some of the Vin Jaune in the making of the chicken dish.

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That's it for now, Melanie says I have to go do some yard work! :hmmm:

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The Apero:

Ok, all of the yard work is finished and we have moved on to more pleasant things!

We decided to make a little apero after all of our hard work so here are some of the pictures:

From left to right are; toast points, pate de campagne and cornichons, confiture de groseilles, saucissons with hazelnuts and pickled onions and quail's eggs on sea salt, Comté cheese and grapes and of course two of the famous Macvin wines.

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A closer view:

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What is remarkable is the difference between the color of the two Macvins, the yellowish cloudy one is a 2000 from La Maison du Vigneron in Lons-Le-Saunier and the darker one is an nonvintage from Fruitière Vinicole d'Arbois in Arbois. Both were good but we liked the Arbois better.

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Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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After the apero we moved on to the Feuilleté Comtois au Jambon.

We have never encountered this dish in our travels of the Franche-comtè so we have to follow the recipe on this one. The recipe did not say if we should use dried ham or fresh so we decided to make two versions and use both. first we wrapped the Comté cheese with the ham.

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Then wrap the ham and cheese in pastry and paint with egg yolk.

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20 minutes in the oven and voila!

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Even better when you cut into them!

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We decided we liked the version made with the fresh ham better than the one with the dried ham. The dried ham made it too salty.

With the Feuilleté Comtois au Jambon we tried two wines. The first was the Arbois Rouge 1999 from Auguste Piroi 12.5% which we found to be young and fruity but lacking power. The second wine was the Arbois Pupillin Rouge 'Cuvée Générations' 1999 from Désiré Petit 12.5% which was wonderful! Very light in color but it packed loads of flavor and had a beautiful nose. We are saving some of each to try over the next 24 hours.

We were supposed to make a Tarte au Fromage but it is after six pm and we so full from the apero and the Feuilleté Comtois au Jambon we don't think we can manage another course. We will try to make it tomorrow to have as an apero for the Poularde aux Morilles. Sorry to let you down.

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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I'm rather surprised there's a vintage Macvin at all, considering the nature of the beverage a blend of before wine and after wine beverages. That's a curious name.

The blend of juice and eau-de-vie reminds me of Pommeau from Brittany which is a blend of apple juice and eau-de-vie of cider. The bottle I have is 17% alcohol. It's a bit sweet for my taste, but a traditional aperitif in Brittany. It was used for a toast at our daughter's wedding. She's married to a Breton.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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It's Sunday! The day we have all been waiting for.

Today we will cook the Poularde au Vin Jaune et aux Morilles.

But first the Tarte au Comté that we didn't make yesterday.

First we made a pie shell:

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Then we filled it:

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almost done..

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And finally the finished product....

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God this was good!!! We followed this recipe to the gram but cut it by 1/3rd

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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Great thread Swiss Chef. I wish this forum had more French home cooking posts.

Quick question for Boris. When he cruised the Saone I wonder if he saw the boats with older French people dancing to accordian music. :laugh:

A house boat is really the way to go.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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...

What is remarkable is the difference between the color of the two Macvins, the yellowish cloudy one is a 2000 from La Maison du Vigneron in Lons-Le-Saunier and the darker one is  an nonvintage from Fruitière Vinicole d'Arbois in Arbois. Both were good but we liked the Arbois better.

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Can you recall any more of the flavor of the two or can you compare it to any other wines? The colors are intriguing. How much sweetness did they have? Do you know the grape varietal? I did look at the Jura wine link you gave; from what I can tell these are not "vin jaune".

p.s. The comte pie certainly looks delicious. (as do all the other dishes...)

Edited by ludja (log)

"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"

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Now, on to the main course!

First the bird.. notice the length of the middle leg bone on these free range French chickens!

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All cut up and ready for the frying pan...

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Three pans going at once...stock, onions and chicken... I pan seared the chicken first in small batches then added it to the sautéd onions and then added some stock and Vin Jaune...

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Finally everything was combined and the morels were added.

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Everything was cooked over a VERY low heat for about two hours. Then I removed the chicken and reduced the stock...then at the last minute I added some heavy cream.

Here s the final product...

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We served it with a melange of three different kinds of rice (red, white and wild) and fresh asparagus.

The whole house smells fantastic at the moment!

A final close up...

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The Chateau l'Etoile was bone dry with a touch of the characteristic maderized flavor you find in the Jura wines.

We used 3/4 of the bottle of 1998 Vin Jaune in the chicken dish but managed to drink the rest. Vin Jaune is such an unusual wine, this one was as dry as the l'Etoile but heavier and more powerful by far and it also had that touch of maderization. It seems to me that these wines would both go well with a blue cheese, perhaps a Bleu de Gex or even a Morbier which are both local cheeses.

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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Can you recall any more of the flavor of the two or can you compare it to any other wines?  The colors are intriguing.  How much sweetness did they have?  Do you know the grape varietal?  I did look at the Jura wine link you gave; from what I can tell these are not "vin jaune".

Hi Ludja,

No these are not like Vin Jaune...they are fortified wines like Port. We opened three Macvins for this thread. All three were very different. Macvin is made over a very wide area and are made from Chardonnay, Savagnin and even Rosé wines fortified with Marc. This results in very different tasting wines. Each of our Macvins was very different from the other.... which was the best??? Every one of them was good. We did pick one over the rest, but it really is a matter of personal choice. The best advice I have is to go there and try some for yourself. The question is kind of like asking "who makes the best barbecue in the US"?

Ed

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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Merci Chef!!

One of our favorite restaurants in Paris does food from the Jura region. The chicken in vin jaune is my favorite dish, so rich and velvet like. Yum!! I have tried to recreate it many times here in seattle but can not locate the vin jaune.

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Merci Chef!!

One of our favorite restaurants in Paris does food from the Jura region. The chicken in vin jaune is my favorite dish, so rich and velvet like. Yum!! I have tried to recreate it many times here in seattle but can not locate the vin jaune.

I know it is very hard to find the Jura wines outside of the region. I suggest you try making a 'faux' Vin Jaune with a mixture of very dry sherry and a touch of dry riesling. Ok, a true Comtoise would laugh but honestly it makes a good substitute I have done it myself! Heck, it's better than nothing!

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The Morel of the Story.

The Franche-Comté has more than it's share of fir trees which the famous morel mushroom tends to favor. Consequently the morel is a very important ingredient to the local cuisine. The fir tree is very important locally too because it is used to smoke the local meats.

Cheese Please:

Other than Comté there is a wide variety of cheeses to choose from in the Franche-comté, here you will find a quick run down of the local cheeses.

Let's Meat in the Franche-comté:

Saucisse de Morteau is a pork sausage and like the Jambon de Luxeuil it is smoked in fir wood, for at least 48 hours.

Saucisse de Montbéliard is made from pork, cumin, nutmeg, garlic and white wine and smoked in fir wood.

Jambon de Luxeuil. This cured ham is soaked in salt water and juniper berrries then smoked with firtree sawdust and dried.

Brési is salted beef, smoked and dried for three months, it is similar Breseola. Served as appetizer or with fondues and raclettes dishes, sliced paper thin.

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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