When I go to southern France and mushrooms are in season, I look forward to the particularly meaty, pungent ceps (also called boletus and porcini or “little pigs’, the Italian name). Ceps dry wonderfully well, an intense, fragrant addition to sauces and soups. They are outstanding with game birds such as guinea hen or pheasant,
Roast leg of Lamb with White Beans Roast leg of lamb is the French cook’s pride, paraded for guests, or a birthday, or for family Sunday lunch. To make the most of this expensive cut, a gigot is invariably cooked on the bone, with a clove of garlic tucked into the shank so it permeates
Rack of pork – the loin including the rib bones – makes an excellent family roast when topped with a savory breadcrumb mixture that cooks to be brown and crisp. The topping sticks to the meat surface thanks to a brushing with Dijon mustard, which can be mild or hot, according to your taste. Dijon,
One of my first memories of a good French meal involves Steak Marchand de Vin. Too late for lunch, I stopped one day at a bar where steak-frites was the only choice. The proprietor took out his pan and fried up fresh steaks as I watched, fascinated. After a quick sizzle on each side, he transferred the meat to plates and went to work on the sauce. In went a dusting of chopped shallots and garlic, and then came the wine, poured from an open, unlabelled bottle. But we were in Burgundy, and that bottle had a pedigree. Before my eyes the wine was boiled almost to a glaze to concentrate and mellow the flavor – the key step, I discovered, when I went home and tried it myself. Fresh herbs and cubes of cold butter, swirled in the warm sauce until melted, completed the dish.
Sirloin, top round, and flank steak all work well for this sandwich. Sirloin gives a good beefy flavor but somewhat irregular slices, top round provides very even slices, and flank steak can be counted on for great flavor. The meat is marinated in a simple mixture of garlic, mustard and lemon juice, then grilled, sliced, and piled onto crusty bread with spicy arugula and meltingly soft onions.
Country ham needs fruit to balance the salt, and for me apples are just right. A delicious syrupy caramel gravy brings it all together.
The savvy mustard-makers of Dijon have done such a good marketing job that today the town is synonymous with the classic aromatic French mustard flavored with wine and herbs. In this recipe you can take your pick of smooth or grainy mustard, with or without herbal or fruity flavorings. Veal chops, particularly with this creamy sauce, suggest to me a similarly luxurious vegetable, fresh asparagus perhaps, or fine green beans.
Having read about Enchaud Périgourdin in an old cookbook, I was so happy to actually taste it when I was in Périgord. Once I’d tried it, I never looked back—it’s so simple. The pork is spiked with sticks of garlic, and roasted en cocotte with just a bit of broth in a covered casserole, so the meat keeps moist and tasty. Carrots and parsnips are added halfway through cooking so they cook to just the right tenderness as accompaniment. The pork is also excellent cold: thin slices, spread with the jelled cooking juices and topped with some cornichons, makes a robust sandwich between slices of country bread.
Lyon and the surrounding Lyonnais district have competed for centuries with Paris to be first in food. Paris is chic, sophisticated, refined; Lyon goes for hearty, accessible country cooking that is easy to love. This recipe sums it up.
For roasting, a pig’s head should be halved down the middle and thoroughly cleaned. That’s how they come when ordered off the internet from suppliers such as Heritage Foods USA (http://heritagefoodsusa.com). In large cities you will find pig’s head in ethnic butcher shops, particularly in Chinatown. The roasted head yields quantities of crunchy skin, and generous amounts of rich meat from the cheek. Fergus suggests serving the roasted head at room temperature on a bed of tart seasonal greens such as watercress or arugula. On a chilly day it is also delicious hot with braised fava or kidney beans.