Posts Tagged ‘French’

Rabbit with tarragon & mustard

Jono’s birthday treat this year was a rabbit, which we ate. Orlaith (the 3 year old in the house) also ate it despite being very attached to her favourite fluffy ‘Bunny’.  If you’re nervous about rabbit don’t be, the flavour is really good and not too gamey. We highly recommend this mustard & tarragon sauce too.

Wine Suggestion: A classic French dish needed a classic French wine to go with it. Our choice was a favourite, the Patrick Javillier Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée Oligocene, in reality a good Meursault. Well worth seeking out.

Rabbit with Mustard & Tarragon – serves 3-4

  • 1.5kg rabbit joints
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 100ml double cream
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • leaves from 8 springs of tarragon

Season the rabbit joints with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter in a deep frying pan and brown the rabbit pieces, then remove from the pan and set aside. Cook the onion in the same pan until soft and golden. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and return the rabbit pieces to the pan. Simmer very gently, covered, for 1.5-2 hours or until tender and still moist.

Take the rabbit back out of the pan, put into a warm dish and cover. Add the cream to the stock and reduce by about half. Add the mustard, lemon juice and half the tarragon. Reduce again until the sauce is the consistency of single cream but be careful the sauce doesn’t reduce too much and become sticky and salty.

Return the rabbit to the sauce to heat through and add the rest of the tarragon just before serving.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)


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Daube of Beef

Daube of Beef

This dish was traditionally cooked in a glazed clay pot. However these have successfully been replaced by cast-iron casseroles, like our favourite oval shaped one from le Creuset. It keeps the heat stable which makes it perfect for the long and slow cooking required for this dish. Very like our Chianti Beef recipe but with a few French touches.

Wine Suggestion: with a nod to the French origins of this dish we’d suggest a good Gigondas from the Rhone to match. With rich brambly fruit, good spicy tannins and a touch of elegant leathery development the Grapillon d’Or Gigondas was immensely enjoyed last time we cooked this, but other GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) blends from around the world would work well too.

Daube of Beef – serves 6

  • 1.2kg shin of beef, cut into large pieces
  • 4 tbsp plain flour, well seasoned
  • oil for frying
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced thickly on a diagonal
  • 4 carrots, sliced thickly on a diagonal
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 750ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 cloves, ground
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 strips of orange peel
  • flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 150ºC/Fan 130ºC/Gas 2.

Toss the beef in the seasoned flour (we shake them together in a large freezer bag).

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan and brown the beef in batches before transferring with a slotted spoon to a large casserole dish with a lid. Add the bacon to the frying pan and cook until brown and crispy, then scoop out and add to the casserole with the beef. Cook the onions until golden and caramelised then add these to the beef. Finally fry the carrot and celery until just starting to colour. Add the garlic and cook for a minute then add to the beef. Add a splash of wine to the frying pan to deglaze, stirring to scrape any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan, then tip into the casserole. Add the rest of the wine to the casserole and bring to a simmer. Stir in the tomato purée, cloves, bay leaves and orange peel.

Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook for 2½ hours or until the meat is very tender – leave the lid off for a while at the end if you want the sauce to thicken to bit. Scatter with the parsley to finish.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes in BBC Olive Magazine, September, 2012).


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Bœuf à la Gardiane


Another classic from Elizabeth David, this stew originates in the Gard region of France and is very simple but full of flavour. Elizabeth suggests serving it with rice (a la Camargue) but it also worked well with roast potatoes and rosemary. There won’t be a lot of sauce as it is almost all absorbed by the meat as it cooks but this part of the charm; intensely flavoured, tender beef.

Wine suggestion: This dish would go well with any of the local red wines of the Gard and surrounding southern-French regions (Rhone, Languedoc, etc). Any combination of Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Syrah will work, particularly if they come from older, lower yielding vines and a sensitive hand in the winery. We drank a VdP La Clape from Domaine de Boède, Le Pavillon which is a great value combination of Cinsault and Syrah and which stood up to the flavours and adding it’s own character.

Bœuf à la gardiane – serves 4-5

  • 1kg top rump of beef, cut into small neat cubes approximately 2.5cm square
  • butter and olive oil
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 1 large glass of full-bodied red wine
  • bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, a little strip of orange peel and a whole garlic clove crushed with the back of a knife but left whole (tie together with thread)
  • 175g stoned black olives

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy based casserole dish and brown the beef in batches.

Warm the brandy in a soup ladle, pour over the meat, then carefully set alight. Shake the pan carefully until the flames go out.

Add the red wine and bubble for 30 seconds before seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Add the bouquet garni, turn the heat down as low as possible and cover the pan with at least two layers of greaseproof paper or foil and the lid.

Cook as gently as possible for about 3½ hours. Ten minutes before the end, remove the bouquet garni and add the olives.

Season to taste and serve.

(Original recipe from At Elizabeth David’s Table: Her very best everyday recipes, compiled by Jill Norman, Penguin, 2010.)

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Jerusalem Artichoke soup

This is so refined in flavour and texture with the creamy and elegant soup working perfectly with the crunchy topping of celery, pancetta, garlic and fresh tomato. Highly recommended!

We’re a bit late with the recipe as Jerusalem artichoke season finishes in March but they’ll be back again at the end of the year and they’re probably still around somewhere in the world.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup – to serve 4

  • 1kg Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1.8 litres of salted water
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • small piece of celery, chopped
  • a little parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped ham or bacon or pancetta

Peel and chop the Jerusalem artichokes into even sized chunks. Simmer in the water until tender, then drain and purée with a stick blender.

Heat up the artichokes and gradually add the milk.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the tomatoes, garlic, celery, parsley and bacon for just a few minutes, then pour into the soup (along with the oil).

(Original recipe from At Elizabeth David’s Table: Her very best everyday recipes, Penguin, 2010.)

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This is a classic French side dish which remarkably improves steamed carrots and we find impresses guests too despite being easy to cook.

Vichy carrots – serves 4

  • 6-8 carrots
  • 15g butter
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • few mint sprigs
  • few parsley sprigs
  • black pepper

Peel the carrots and cut into batons.

Put the butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently. Stir in the carrots and add enough water to come halfway up.

Increase the heat to medium and partially cover. Simmer until the carrots are tender and most of the water has evaporated.

Turn down the heat and remove the lid. Reduce the remaining liquid to a glaze, stirring to ensure the carrots are evenly coated and don’t stick.

Finely chop the mint and parsley – you need about a ¼ tsp of each. Season with pepper, stir in the herbs and serve.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook, Quadrille Publishing Limited, 2013)

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Not a million miles from a Coq au Vin but with a much more delicate and slightly sweet sauce. The Muscat Beaumes-de-Venise is a vin doux naturel from the southern Rhône and is a sweet wine with a characteristic grapey flavour.

Chicken sauté with Muscat de Minervois and crème fraîche – to serve 4

  • 1.5kg chicken – jointed into 8 pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Armagnac
  • ½ bottle Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (or any sweet Muscat)
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150g small button mushrooms
  • 100ml crème fraîche
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Beurre manié (blend equal quantities of butter and flour together into a smooth paste. Keep any extra covered in the fridge)
  • Steamed rice and green salad to serve

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat half the oil and butter in a large deep frying pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Lower the heat, add the chopped shallots and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the Armagnac to the pan, light with a match and shake the pan until the flames go out. Add the Muscat, stock, thyme and bay leaves, bring to a simmer, cover and leave to cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms in a little butter and oil and season. Lift the chicken pieces onto a warmed serving dish and scatter over the mushrooms.

Mix the crème fraîche and egg yolks in a small bowl. Take the pan off the heat and skim any excess fat from the surface of the juices. Add the lemon juice. Add the cream and egg mixture along with the beurre manié, put the pan back onto a low heat and stir over a very gentle heat until the sauce has thickened slightly – do not let it boil! Check the seasoning, then strain the sauce over the chicken and serve with steamed rice and green salad.

Wine Suggestion: A light and southern Rhône red from the Cotes du Ventoux should complement the rich, creamy flavours of this dish and add a pleasant savoury contrast to the sweet sauce. Or, if you’d prefer a white see if you can find a very good Roussillon, like Domaine Gauby or Domaine Madeloc which would make the whole dinner  a real treat!

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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La Mouclade

A traditional French dish of steamed mussels with a light creamy, curry sauce. Serve with lots of crusty bread.

La mouclade – to serve 4

  • A good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp medium curry powder (buy a good quality one)
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley

Moisten the saffron with a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl.

Put the mussels and wine in a large pot, cover and cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan now and then, until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels in a colander set over a bowl to catch the cooking liquor. Put the mussels in a large serving bowl and keep warm.

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion, garlic and curry powder and cook gently, without browning, for a few minutes. Add the cognac and cook until almost evaporated, then stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Gradually stir in the saffron liquid and all but the last tablespoon or so of the mussel liquor (so you avoid any grit). Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the crème fraîche and simmer for another 3 minutes, until reduced a bit. Season, stir in the parsley and pour the sauce over the mussels.

Wine Suggestion: A classic match for this dish is a white Bordeaux where the fresh grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc is complemented by the richness of Semillon and structure from a bit of oak. Almost an exotic combination with the mouclade, but perfect.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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