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Surprise! 12 Hour Flash Sale!

Yes, we’re having a sale within a sale. Dizzying, isn’t it?  Not only is cassoulet 15% off all week, but today we’re slashing prices up to 30%  on selected items at dartagnan.com. Because we love you.

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Cassoulet is 15% Off All Week!

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“Cassoulet, like life itself, is not so simple as it seems.”  - Paula Wolfert

But our cassoulet recipe kit makes it a whole lot simpler. It includes all the ingredients you need to make a cassoulet to serve 12 (with leftovers) and a clay bowl (cassole) for baking it.

 Duck leg confit, duck and pork sausages, ventreche, duck fat, demi-glace and the all-important Tarbais beans are the simple ingredients of this legendary dish. The magic happens when all the flavors mingle together into a thick stew that is ideal for cold winter days. Just get a few bottles of Madiran or Malbec wine and invite some friends over for dinner.

Learn more about the preparation and history of cassoulet here.  And the reason we insist on using Tarbais beans here.

Click through to shop the 15% off sale now, because the deal ends Sunday, January 12, 2014.

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Saucy Series, Part VII: Sauce Béarnaise

Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.

Sauce Béarnaise

One of the most ostentatious parties of the 19th century was the Bradley-Martin Ball. It was noted that some the costumes cost more than a worker made in their lives (although Mrs. Martin noted that she arranged the party on short notice, so costumes would be made in New York and not Europe so as to employ out-of-work garment workers). Clergy gave sermons about the excesses causing some guests to bow out.

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The menu was elegant and had Filet de Boeuf Jardinière as one of its show-stopping dishes. It was a huge favorite during the gilded age and meant to impress. Aside from beef and vegetables, it always had a sauce Béarnaise to spoon over the delicious beef.

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Ah Béarnaise sauce –– as part of my sauce series, Béarnaise is one of Escoffier’s mother sauces (that I wrote about HERE). History says the sauce was probably invented by Chef Collinet, for his restaurant Le Pavillon Henri IV (opened in 1836). Henri IV was from Béarn. It is essentially a hollandaise with shallots and tarragon that uses wine vinegar instead of lemon. It is fabulous with both beef and vegetables… if you add a bit of meat glaze to the sauce it becomes Sauce Foyot, very delicious with your beef. It’s also a breeze to make.

Although you can make the whole tenderloin, I decided that I would do little filets in the style and make cabbage cups of Béarnaise with the vegetables strewn about under the sauce. You can do an old style garnish if you wish ––cauliflower encased in gelée. It’s fun and delicious.

It doesn’t get better than this. Honestly, it can be ready in ½ an hour (if you don’t get fancy with the gelée).

19th century beef was much leaner than ours, so had to be larded. Not a problem today. I used D’Artagnan’s pasture-raised filet mignon –– a magnificent piece of meat. It has a buttery, cut-with-a-spoon texture and rich, deep flavor. Party like a plutocrat, you won’t be disappointed.

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Filet Mignon a la Jardiniére

serves 4

4 D’Artagnan’s pasture-raised filet mignon (6-8 oz each)
salt and course ground pepper to taste
2 T butter (or a bit of lard or bacon fat for the flavor of the original larding)
4 T demi-glace
4 t madeira
1 c cooked peas
1 c cooked green beans
2 cooked carrots, sliced into thin sticks
1 cup cooked cauliflower (plus another cup if you want to make the gelée)
4 small cooked onions
4 – 8 leaves of cooked cabbage cut to make small cups
*cauliflower in gelée garnish (optional)

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After cooking them, keep the vegetables warm.

Put the butter (or lard) in a hot pan (preferably cast iron). Salt and pepper the meat. Brown on top and bottom and on the sides, if the meat is very thick. It will be rare when you are done with this. Cook a few minutes longer if you want it medium-rare. Tent and let rest for 5 minutes. Warm the demi-glace and madeira and pour over the meat.

Place the vegetables on the plate and put the cabbage leaf like a cup. Add some Béarnaise to the cup, place the cauliflower gelée and the meat.

Béarnaise Sauce

8 T butter
2 egg yolks
1 shallot, minced
pinch of nutmeg
1 – 2 t chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 c white wine vinegar (tarragon vinegar if you have it) plus 1-2 T
salt and pepper

Put the shallots in a heavy pan if you have it with 1/4 c vinegar and a pinch of pepper and reduce till nearly dry. Let cool.

Add the egg yolks, stirring to blend and put on low heat. Add a few tablespoons of butter and stir to dissolve, removing from the heat from time to time and continue adding butter till all of it is used up. Never let it get too hot or it will separate. Just enough to melt the butter. Add the remaining vinegar to taste and salt and pepper and the chopped tarragon.

You can add a bit of the meat glaze from the beef when you have finished cooking it if you would like. Keep warm. If you need to reheat it, do it gently, it will separate if it gets too hot.

Gelée

3 cups stock
3 envelopes gelatin
2 egg whites and shells, crushed
3 T tomato, chopped
dark green top of 1 leek, chopped
1 sprigs parsley
1/3 c chopped celery leaves
a few slices of carrot
salt and pepper to taste

Put 1 cup of stock in a pot. Add 3 envelopes of gelatin to the stock and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the rest of the solids and egg whites and shells and add the stock. Bring to a heavy boil then immediately turn down to a low simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and pour through double thickness of WET cheesecloth… DO NOT PRESS ON SOLIDS!!!! Let it drip slowly and you will have perfectly clear, golden stock. You can make it before you need it and refrigerate, just warm it to return it to a liquid state. It freezes beautifully

Put thin slices of cooked cauliflower in a dish of choice and pour the warm gelée over it. refrigerate and serve as a garnish. It is very forgiving. If you don’t like the way it looks in the gelée, just warm and start over.

The Taste is Back on TV

We will be watching the new season of The Taste on ABC tonight at 8 PM EST.  Not only because our chef friends are on the show, but some of our products might make an appearance as well <wink, wink>. You can take a sneak peak on the ABC website here. 

Tune in tonight and see what happens as competitors are judged on one blind spoonful by Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Marcus Samuelsson and Ludo Lefebvre.

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Bonne Année! Happy New Year!

Wishing you a happy new year filling with delicious adventures – both sweet and savory.

Here are some some vintage New Year’s greetings from the turn of the last century for you to enjoy. Our penchant for all things French will be obvious, but there are several interesting cards in English as well. We were delighted to find so many images of lucky pigs – yes, it turns out they are more than just tasty!  There were so many ways to express your best wishes during the golden age of the postcard.

The postcard was the text message of the early 20th century. To give you a sense of how prevalent it was, in 1907 over 577 million postcards were mailed, at a time when the US population was only 88 million. And the postal service delivered mail to homes several times a day!  Often a postcard arriving in the morning would confirm the arrival time of a train that very evening.

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Words to drink by…

Happy New Year!

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Time to Plan for New Year’s Eve

Our gift to you this season is 15% off your New Year’s Eve order! Enter code: NEWYEAR14 at checkout to receive 15% off your order of $100 or more. Order by 12 PM EST on December 30 to take advantage of this savings and for delivery on December 31, 2013. SHOP NOW!

*Order cut-off times are subject to change.

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Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

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How Your Goose Gets Cooked

The tradition of a roasted goose on the holiday table goes way, way back. The people of ancient Greece and Rome may have been celebrating different festivals, but they did so with the very same bird we do. From medieval days right through to the Victorian depiction in Charles Dickens, the goose has remained the ubiquitous holiday bird in all of Europe.

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The reason is the natural rhythm of its lifespan; a goose is at its fattest (think tastiest) after it feeds on late harvest grains to  bulk up for the cold months. And that falls right in step with the autumnal and winter holidays.

If you’ve decided you want to be a part of this long tradition, but have never prepared a goose before, there are a few things you should know. Of course, roasting a big bird like a turkey or a duck is much the same process. One thing you will notice is an astonishing amount of fat renders out of a goose.

There’s no reason to get nervous about your goose, just be prepared. Check out  the tips on our website here and here.

And watch Ariane talking goose in the Le Creuset Film Series below.

We have several goose recipes, including this Alsatian one which involves foie gras and chestnuts (lovely for the holidays). One of the nice things about the dark meat of a goose is how it well pairs with fruits, such as the pears in this recipe.

Ariane’s favorite version is the gala goose here, a recipe in which the goose is first poached and then roasted, which tenderizes the meat, renders out the fat and allows the skin to crisp.  Though it’s an involved process, this really is the right way to cook your goose. And you get the benefit of all that lovely fat rendered cleanly out; it’s perfect for the potatoes or other vegetables you serve alongside the main attraction.

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Saucy Series, Part VI: Sauce Cameline

Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.

Sauce Cameline

Sauce Cameline was like the ketchup and barbeque sauce of the Middle Ages. It was a cinnamon-y bread and vinegar sauce that was so popular it was actually purchased at a store. I read in the 14th century Le Mangier de Paris “At the sauce-makers, three half-pints of cameline for dinner and supper…”

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He also gives a recipe for it in the book:

“CAMELINE. Note that at Tournais, to make cameline, they grind together ginger, cinnamon and saffron and half a nutmeg: soak in wine, then take out of the mortar; then have white bread crumbs, not toasted, moistened with cold water and grind in the mortar, soak in wine and strain, then boil it all, and lastly add red sugar: and this is winter cameline. And in summer they make it the same way, but it is not boiled.

And in truth, for my taste, the winter sort is good, but the following is much better: grind a little ginger with lots of cinnamon, then take it out, and have lots of toasted bread or bread-crumbs in vinegar, ground and strained.”

Another famous 14th Century cookbook, The Forme of Cury had it as well:

Take currants, meat of nuts, crusts of bread and powdered ginger, cloves, ground cinnamon, pound it well together and add thereto salt temper it up with vinegar and mess forth.

The great Taillevent’s 13th century Le Viandier also had an even earlier recipe:

Take ginger, plenty of cassia, cloves, grains of paradise, mastic, thyme and long pepper (if you wish). Sieve bread soaked in vinegar, strain and salt to taste.

I decided to combine a few recipes and make squab with Cameline Sauce.

It is delicious and tangy, and you will get an idea what it was like to eat in the Middle Ages, not too shabby at all!

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Squab with Cameline Sauce

4 cooked squab –  (see recipe)
1 recipe Cameline Sauce (see recipe)
garnish (I used frisee & parsley)
Place the squabs on the platter with garnish and serve with the sauce

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Cameline Sauce

1- 2 slices bread, crusts removed and well-toasted (about 7″ x 3″, 3/4″ thick)
1 c red wine*
1/4 to 1/3 c red wine vinegar*
2 T currants soaked in 4 T water till plump and soft
2-3 t sugar
1 T blanched almonds (optional)
2 t – 2 T cinnamon to taste (I used 1½ T)
1/2 t – 2 t ginger (I used 1t)
1/2 t ground grains of paradise (optional)
Healthy pinch of cloves, nutmeg
Pinch of ground mastic (optional – if you use it remember is it very powerful so use sparingly)
1/2 t thyme
pinch saffron (in 1 T warm red wine)
salt and pepper to taste (if you have long pepper, grind 1 in a spice grinder and add to taste, otherwise use black pepper)

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Bread with wine and vinegar

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Bread after soaking an hour

Soak the bread in the wine and vinegar for an hour till mush. Grind the almonds if you are using them, then put in bread and soaking liquid in a blender or processor and puree. Add the spices to taste (especially the cinnamon — most recipes ask for a lot of it, but you may want less – if you use less, add less ginger). At this point you can press through a strainer for a finer texture or not, mine did not, it was smooth as silk.

*You may need to add more wine and vinegar if the sauce is too stiff –– mine was not. You may want to play with the proportions for the tang you like. It will have the texture of ketchup.

To Cook the Squab

4 squab
2 large carrots, cut into 4-6 sticks each
1 T oil
salt and pepper (you can use ground long pepper and grains of paradise if you have them)

1. Pre-heat oven to 500º. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and heat for at least 15 minutes.

2. Season the squabs inside and out with salt and pepper. Oil the carrot sticks.

3. Remove the skillet from the oven and place the carrot sticks in the pan and the squab on top (to keeps the bottom of the bird from burning and they are delicious to eat afterwards – a Ming Tsai technique). Roast from 15 to 18 minutes till the squab reaches 120º interior temperature – you don’t want squab done to death –– medium-rare to medium is good. Let rest for 10 minutes.

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