Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Selle de Chevreuil – Saddle of Venison

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Quickly sear and brown all over a saddle of venison in a large covered pot in graisse. Remove saddle from the heat and cool to the touch. Drain pot of excess fat, but do not disturb the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan.

Stir together a portion of butter and a dollop of prepared mustard. Slather all over roast and roll to coat in finely minced carrot, apple, squash or pumpkin. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper.

Place saddle back into large pot, cover and set into the slow coals at the back or side of the fireplace (375ºF oven). Do not remove cover for at least an hour. Begin to check on the doneness of the roast, and baste carefully with any juices that have collected on the bottom of the pot. When the roast has cooked to your desired taste, remove to a platter and keep warm. Degrease the pot and add enough verjus or vinegar to deglaze pot. Push pan juices through a sieve and serve over slices of roast.

The vegetable or fruit coating keeps the roast moist without the addition of barding and adds an indefinable something to the gravy. The amount of butter and mustard may preclude the use of salt, but adjust seasoning to your taste.

Venison available here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Anchois - anchovy

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Anchovy, a small fish of the sea, usually preserved in salt in small barrels; one usually makes salads of them--it is the most common way to eat them; wash [soak] them in wine or water, then split them in two [at this point you may have to clean them if they were preserved whole--innards & fins] & remove fillets; properly arrange them on small lettuces & garnish with fresh chervil. Puréed anchovy is used in ragouts, as well for fat [days] as for thin [fast days]. Fry them if you want crisp anchovies for hors d’œuvres after dipping them in a batter made with water, flour, an egg, a little salt & pepper; serve with a drizzle of orange juice & [sprinkle with] fried parsley.

La nouvelle maison rustique, ou, Économie generale de tous les biens de campagne: la manière de les entretenir & de les multiplier : donée ci-devant au public / par le Sieur Louis Liger. Paris : Saugrain, 1755, Tome II, IV. Part. LIV. IV. Chap. I. La Cuisine. B., p. 795-796.

Anchois, petits poissons de mer qu’on apporte tout confits au sel dans de petits barils; on en fait ordinairement des salades, & c’est la façon la plus commune de les manger; on les lave pour cela dans du vin ou de l’eau, puis on les fend en deux & on leve l’arrête du milieu; on les arrange proprement sur de petites laitues & l’on garnit de jeune cerfeuil. On fait aussi un coulis d’anchois, & il entre dans plusieurs ragouts, tant gras que maigres. On frit si l’on veut les arêttes d’anchois qui ont servi, après les avoir trempés dans une pâte faite avec de l’eau, de la farine, un œuf, un peu de sel & poivre; ils servent de garnitures ou hors-d’œures, avec oranges & persil frit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boulanger - World Bread Baking Day 2007

Today is World Bread Baking Day 2007, hosted by Zorra. For those of you who do not bake, or who do not have an oven, a trip to the local bakery will allow you to purchase breads in the sizes and shapes of those of the 18th Century. Breads are still raised on a couche or in baskets prior to being shoveled into the oven with a peel. Very hot ovens and bursts of steam create that crackly crust we are so familiar with, and a frugal cook will save all those crumbs for additions to broiled toppings and extenders for use with ground meat dishes.

North American women have always made their own bread; each individual farmstead had its own bread oven. This was not so in France where picking up a fresh loaf from the baker was a daily occurence.

New bakeries, no matter the expertise of the baker, do not produce as fine a loaf as they will as they age. The secret? The more that yeasts are encouraged through the process of dough making, rising and baking, the better the quality of wild yeasts present in the space and, therefore, the better the bread.

So in celebration of this World Bread Baking Day 2007, I urge you to either stop by the corner bakery and pick up a loaf, from dark peasant rye to the whitest baguette, to eat with your soup, or if you do bake, try Bernard Clayton, Jr's books of recipes for French breads, loaves just like those eaten in the 18thC! And Zorra's roundup of World Bread Baking Day 2007 will surely present you with many delectible bread variations with which to try your hand at bread baking.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bécasses - Woodcock

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This recipe is an example of how different modern cooking is from the “old ways.” My French readers will have to comment on the current addition of innards [other than cooked, mashed liver to act as a liaison] and faisandée techniques as still in use today—in America, I do not believe they are the norm.

Woodcocks with wine. Divide the woodcocks in four, remove the insides [*see note following] & put them aside to thicken the sauce; put your woodcocks in a pan with sliced truffles, calf sweetbreads, mushrooms & will foam [a type of mushroom], & brown them altogether in melted fat, & moisten it with ox juice [sweated meat, cooked slowly to remove the juice—think bouillon or consommé]; season with salt, pepper, Welsh onion [scallions], & add two glasses of wine; bring to boil & when that is well cooked, stir into the sauce the insides* of the woodcocks which you have reserved to bind the sauce, & serve hot with the juice of lemon or orange which you will press above [at the last minute].

*innards as thickening or binder [La Cuisine, Raymond Oliver. Tudor, New York, 1969: p. 526-528] “Pluck the snipe [or woodcock] without drawing it [not removing innards] and bard it [prick it—wrap in bacon--I use turkey or beef bacon or chicken or goose fat pounded and tied around bird] … cook it … Remove gizzard from the bird’s innards and discard it. Put the [rest of the] innards on a plate and mash them with a work. … simmer with smashed bones, strain and serve over meat. … Do not draw the plucked snipe [woodcock], but bard it and tie them, place on spit. Fry bread slices in goose fat, rub with garlic and place in a dripping pan under spit or rotisserie pin, so that the juices from the roasting bird[s] will fall on the bread. The bird is cooked when its interior juices start flowing, that is, in about 15 minutes. Remove from spit and remove bard and innards. Throw away the gizzard, but mince the other innards and spread them on the fingers of toasted bread [from the dripping pan]. Season slices with salt and pepper and fry slices again, spread side down, in a little butter or goose fat. Put bird on a very hot dish, and flame with rum. Cut into halves and put each half on a slice of the fried bread that absorbed the cooking juices. Serve immediately. … Pluck and draw the bird. Discard gizzard; mince the rest of the innards and combine with salt pork [turkey or beef bacon] and … and stuff bird with this mixture, sew it closed and truss it.

La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, translated Paul Aratow. Ten Speed Press, 2005:p. 397-8. “Woodcock and snipe is only roasted or prepared in a salmi. To develop ita aroma, it should be lightly “cured” (faisandée – it must hang for several days between killing and cooking [it implies the point just before mortification immediately preceding the extreme state of decomposition). … Do not gut the woodcock [but do pull the gizzard through the neck of the bird before spitting]. … bard and cook … heat butter in a small saucepan; add the intestines and season lightly; cook on gentle heat. Then smash them into a purée. Spread this purée on the fried crouton [as in Oliver’s description above]. Deglaze pan with cognac and strain sauce through a chinois and serve with game.

Bécasses au vin. Coupez les bécassess en quatre, ôtez-en les dedans & les mettez à part pour en faire une liaison, mettez ensuite vos bécasses dans une casserole avec des truffes coupées par tranches, des ris de veau, des champignons, des mousserons, & passez le tout ensemble avec lard fondu, & le mouillez de jus de bœuf; assaisonnez le tout de sel, poivre, ciboule, & y mettez deux verres de vin; faites bouillir le tout, & quand cela sera bien cuit, vous délayerez bien dans la sauce le dedans bécasses que vous avez reserve pour lier la sauce, & vous les servirez chaudement avec un jus de citron ou jus d’orange que vous presserez dessus.
* * * * *

Woodcocks in Salmi [ragout of game previously roasted]. Roast them with the pin [rotisserie], & when they are half-cooked, cut them in pieces & put them in a pan with wine, according to the quantity of the woodcocks; there add chopped truffles & mushrooms, a little anchovy & capers, good seasoning [salt & pepper], & cook until done: draw up the woodcocks [onto serving plate] & keep warm while binding the sauce with some good purée [of previously cooked and reduced and puréed vegetables and their seasoning juices]. Squeeze the juice of an orange into the sauce and serve warm.

Bécasses en Salmi. Faites-les rôtir à la broche, & quand elles seront à demi-cuites, coupez-les par morceaux & les mettez dans une casserole avec du vin, y en mettant ce qu’il en faut suivant la quantité des bécasses; ajoutez-y des truffes & des champignons hachés, un peu d’anchois & de câpres, bon assaisonnement, & faites cuire le tout: étant cuit, liez la sauce avec quelque bon coulis; ensuite dressez les bécasses & les tenez chaudement sans qu’elles bouillent. Auparavant que de servir, vous y presserez un jus d’orange, & servirez chaudement.

La nouvelle maison rustique, ou, Économie generale de tous les biens de campagne: la manière de les entretenir & de les multiplier : donée ci-devant au public / par le Sieur Louis Liger. Paris : Saugrain, 1755, Tome II, IV. Part. LIV. IV. Chap. I. La Cuisine. B., p. 799-800.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

La nouvelle maison rustique -
New Country House

An amazingly popular French version 'L'agriculture et maison rustique' was first published in Paris 1564, it became a Renaissance bestseller with at least 80 editions by the fall of Napoleon. The work was translated into the English, German, Dutch, Italian and Scandinavian languages. It is a veritable encyclopedia of country living, with large sections on orchards and fruit.

"This work contains all that relates to the goods of countryside, the means of improving them, of increasing, of maintaining and of putting forward. Choice, acquisition, masonry, different productions, and all that is relative; grounds, wood, meadows, vines, etc; horses, cattle and other animals. Best culture of the grounds and the gardens; the most essential matters of the rural right; hunting; fishing, and recreations of the countryside; a small treaty of botany and pharmacy, with simple and easy remedies. Finally practical operations and of arts and the trades most useful for the countryside. The whole enriched by figures, and made more useful, even essential to the owners of the grounds, the amateurs, administrators, managers and farmers." cited 10-4-07 http://www.histoire-genealogie.com/spip.php?article669

A true handbook of agriculture, the New Country House proposes to answer all the questions of an owner concerning the maintenance of his field and the art of controlling its personnel.

My copy of the 10th edition, 1755, has at the very end of Tome II a small section on recipes from which I will share some of the best dishes that can still be replicated today--enjoy!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Biche - Hind [female red deer]

Hind is good only when it is quite young; its flesh is rather delicate & agreeable: it has [as] much [flesh] in ratio to the flesh of the stag & is cooked in the same way; but it is softer & more insipid flesh. It is eaten roasted, & for that soak in a marinade after having pricked it [larded or wrapped] with a little bacon. Baste it while roasting; & when cooked put capers & a little flour in the drippings with a little lemon, & simmer the sauce. It can also be eaten with a sweet sauce, made with vinegar [to deglaze the pan], pepper, cinnamon & sugar, & one whole shallot.

La nouvelle maison rustique, ou, Économie generale de tous les biens de campagne: la manière de les entretenir & de les multiplier : donée ci-devant au public / par le Sieur Louis Liger. Paris : Saugrain, 1755, Tome II, IV. Part. LIV. IV. Chap. I. La Cuisine. B., p. 800.

Biche, n’est bonne que quand elle est bien jeune; sa chair est assez delicate & agreeable: elle a beaucoup de rapport à la chair du cerf & s’accommode de même; mais elle a la chair plus molle & plus fade. On la mange rôtie, & pour cela on la fait tremper dans une marinade après l’avoir piquée de menu lard. On l’arrose en la faisant rôtir; & étant cuite on met des câpres & un peu de farine dans son dégoût avec un peu de citron verd, & on la fait mitonner dans la sauce. On la mange si l’on veut à la sauce douce, avec vinaigre, poivre, canella & sucre, & une échalotte entiere.
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