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Posts tagged ‘Ariane Daguin’

The Duck Press: A French Classic

In the history of world cuisine, French chefs have been accused of being many things, but rarely ever “shy.” The French tradition holds dear the notion of not only using every part of an animal, leaving nothing edible to waste, but also of celebrating certain dishes that that often make more squeamish diners fold their napkins away and politely excuse themselves from the table.

There’s foie gras, of course, the production of which is abhorred by many and cherished by many more (us included, obviously). And then we have the ortolan, a small songbird that, due to the traditional preparation — it is gorged on grains, drowned in Armagnac and then roasted, served, and consumed in a single mouthful– has become illegal in France, although many intrepid diners continue to find gastronomic speakeasies that continue to serve it.

But one of our absolute favorite dishes — and kitchen implements — is the much lauded and feared duck press. Considered by many to be the most spectacular entree in classical French cuisine, the duck press is a device and method of preparation that was invented by a man named Machenet in Paris at the dawn of the 19th century, quickly becoming popular among the culinarily elite. The contraption, and its corresponding dish, canard à la rouennaise (or, “duck in blood sauce”) was later adopted by Chef Frèdèric of the restaurant La Tour d’ Argent (or “Silver Tower”), making it his restaurant’s signature dish, which they continue to serve today.

the-number-of-your-duck

La Tour d’Argent issues a card with the number of your pressed duck, in sequence from the very first duck they every pressed.

So, what is this infamous dish often labeled as barbaric and macabre? It begins simply, with one of our favorite things in the world: a roasted duck. The whole duck — and this includes all of the internal organs, particularly the heart and lungs of the beast, though the liver is removed and reserved — is seasoned, the skin lightly scored, and then roasted. Some chefs, including Daniel Boulud, opt to marinate the duck for up to two days before roasting quickly over very high heat, until the duck is appropriately rare. The beautifully roasted bird is carried by the chef to the diners’ table, where the rest of the elaborate process continues in full view of the restaurant’s guests. The duck’s magret (breasts) and legs are removed and reserved, and the chef uses poultry shears to cut the remaining carcass in half lengthwise.Duck Press 2

Now comes the fun part.

The chef packs the roasted carcass and internal organs into the duck press, a large, squat, menacing piece of kitchen machinery, usually made from a heavy metal such as brass, with a large crank, a wheel, and four legs that are sometimes, in a delightfully morbid fashion, made to look like duck feet. Many people like to compare the object to a medieval torture device, and, if you get a chance to see one, you’d be hard “pressed” do disagree. The increasing pressure of the crank plate compacts the bird until its bones are pulverized, the organs liquified, and the carcass blood juices out of the animal, all of which sluice through a small spout in the duck press and are collected in a pan, then strained through a fine chinois.

Duck press spigot

The chef then thickens the mixture with the pureed duck liver, adds Cognac and red wine, and reduces it carefully until it achieves a deep burgundy, almost black color. Diners are then treated to thin slices of the duck breast in the exquisite blood sauce, followed by a second course of roasted duck legs and thighs.

You'll never guess what's being pressed!

Ariane and Chef David Burke press a Bloody Mary.

Duck presses aren’t easy or inexpensive to come by these days, though our friends Chef David Burke and Chef Daniel Boulud both use them. While pressed duck isn’t nearly as popular as it was in nineteenth-century Paris, the tradition of the duck press — whether or not you consider it macabre or sublime — continues. And for that, we are most certainly thankful.

Interview with Ariane in The Village Voice

Ariane talked to Laura Shunk at The Village Voice recently. Here’s the story of the early days at D’Artagnan and the philosophy behind what we do. Get the low-down on organic chicken, heritage-breed pork and the state of  meat in general.

So go ahead, take a peek inside Ariane’s head in this interview.

Village Voice Screen Shot

 

The Duckathlon Redux

If you like to play with your food, the Duckathlon is the place to be.

So what is the Duckathlon exactly?

It’s a culinary obstacle course with multiple challenges – some are tough, some are funny, but all are food and wine related. Except the ones that involve Armagnac, gin and beer.

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It all began as a private event back in 2005 for our chef clients to let down their toques and test their skills in a friendly competition. Some teams wore costumes, themed t-shirts (with foie gras a favorite subject), and crazy hats.

Now for the first time, the Duckathlon is open to the public! That means you and your food-obsessed friends can take the same challenges that stymied the chefs. There are prizes and medals for those teams that score highest.

Not sure you can come as a team of four? We got your back. Purchase a single ticket and we’ll pair you up with a team on site.

And not to worry about our chef friends – they’re still coming,  but this time they will serve you tasting portions of delectable dishes they made with our products.

Our farmers will be there, too. And all proceeds go to the Action Against Hunger FoodLove initiative.

But get your tickets soon – the Duckathlon is on Saturday, June 14, 2014, from 12:00 – 5:00 pm.

You can purchase tickets here. But you cannot buy them at the door!

The team from Felix Restaurant featured a guest member: Elyse Pasqual, who blogs at foodieinternational.com

The team from Felix Restaurant featured a guest member: Elyse Pasquale, who blogs at foodieinternational.com

Want more? Watch this!

 

And the Village Voice just posted about the new Duckathlon, which they urge you to attend.

Heed the call – or in this case, the quack.

We hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People of 2014

We are excited to announce that Ariane made the list at number 86 – Fast Company recognized her for “growing while staying rooted.”

It’s a huge honor to be included on this list of innovators and creative geniuses. Ariane has worked for 30 years to make something old – heritage breed animals raised with care  and compassion – something new again.

We are also thrilled to see our friend Chef April Bloomfield make the list. Big congratulations to all the worthies on the 2014 list!

Image from Fast Company

Image from Fast Company

Ariane Debunks the Foie Gras Myths

Ariane has been preaching the gospel of foie gras since the earliest days of D’Artagnan. She started the company to sell the first fresh foie gras raised in the United States. Today she is the leading expert on the subject.

Erin Mosbaugh at the blog First We Feast interviewed her on the controversial topic, visited Hudson Valley Foie Gras, our partner farm, and came away with a better understanding of foie gras.

We share their post and hope that you will share it in turn. Foie gras is a topic that excites a lot of passion on both sides. We only ask that people consider all the facts before drawing conclusions about foie gras. Lucky for those who want to do that, First We Feast does a fine job of explaining and debunking the common myths.

Ariane First We Feast Foie Gras Screen Shot

For those who want to learn more about foie gras, try the Artisan Farmers Alliance. And if you want to order some foie gras, we have plenty available on our website, along with recipes to inspire. (Yes, we can ship foie gras to citizens of California. The prohibition on foie gras applies only to sales and production in the state.)

foie gras recipes panel

The Duckathlon 2014

For nine years, The Duckathlon has tested the mettle of our chef clients, challenging them with a culinary obstacle course unlike any other.

Good news! The Duckathlon is – FOR THE FIRST TIME – open to the public. Now you can run the challenge course and drink deeply from the cup of victory. New York City’s ultimate food competition wants you!

The team from Felix Restaurant featured a guest member: Elyse Pasqual, who blogs at foodieinternational.com

The team from Felix had a guest member: Elyse Pasquale, who blogs at foodieinternational.com

How well do you know a pig’s anatomy? How many crêpes can you flip in one minutes? Can you handle the heat?  Better start training now!

The Duckathlon will take place in NYC on June 14, 2014.

Yes, lipstick was part of the Egg Spin Out challenge.

Lipstick was part of the Egg Spin Out challenge. David Burke was game!

Call your friends with good palates, wine knowledge, and sense of competition.

Get them to join you and build a formidable team. Win prizes, eat, drink, laugh and learn.

 

500 competitors
125 teams
25 challenges
15 sustainable farmers
15 local restaurants
Beer, wine, whiskey, Armagnac
PRIZES, PRIZES, PRIZES

Learn more about the particulars right here. And get your tickets here.

See you in the winner’s circle!

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Watch, Learn, Cook! A New Video!

The latest video in our “Back of the House with Ariane” series takes on the subject of veal. The great Barbara Lynch, a chef and restaurateur based in Boston, makes a traditional Italian dish of osso buco and Ariane takes the French path with paupiettes de veau.

Link over to the recipes for Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Veal Osso Buco with Cumin Strozzapreti and Ariane’s Paupiettes de Veau on our website.

Incidentally, you can purchase veal there as well. And if you are squeamish about eating veal, there’s no need to be. Learn more about how our farmers raise veal here.

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.

Recipe_Gala_Goose_HomeMedium

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.

roastingaholidaygoose1_HomeMedium

Saveur and The World of Duck

The December issue of Saveur magazine has a cover story about our favorite bird: duck.  Yes, it mentions us,  but that’s not why we think it’s a great piece. Our friend Hank Shaw is also quoted, which is appropriate. His new book “Duck, Duck, Goose” is our favorite book of the season. It’s got all you could possibly need to know about ducks and geese, along with some fine recipes.

You can read the entire fantastic article  on the Saveur site, after which we wager you’ll be inspired to cook some duck for dinner.

It’s really quite easy, as this Saveur video with Ariane proves. Her seared duck magret is a tradition handed down by her father, Chef Andre Daguin, who invented the preparation. Read, watch and then get in the kitchen and make duck!

saveur cover

We love these illustrations Saveur did of our products. This is a really useful breakdown of all the parts of the duck. Everything but the quack.

saveur the elements of duck

How to Make Chabrot

A  message from Ariane …

Faire chabrot… it’s a rustic tradition from rural France that continues to this day in the Southwest, my region.  It’s an expression of conviviality and continuity, of simple pleasures at the table. So what is chabrot?

It’s a fun way to finish a bowl of soup. When in Gascony, it is often garbure, an improvised soup that varies by season and from one house to the next, though usually includes cabbage and confit of duck or goose. Some people keep a permanent pot of soup bubbling, and add vegetables and meat to it each day. A good broth is a staple in the day of many rural people.

For chabrot (pronounced shab-row), just enjoy your soup and then leave a bit of the warm broth in the bowl.  Naturally, you have red wine on the table, so pour in a dose of wine, I would say about half the amount of the broth, but you can do equal parts if you like.

chabrot_1

The ritual unfolds.

Chabro23a

Soup, a hunk of bread and wine. All a man needs.

There is no stirring and no spoon! Hold your bowl in two hands, swirl gently, and with elbows planted on the table, drink the wine and broth mixture.

Chabro22a

Optional: elbows off the table. (Note the game bird hanging behind!)

This is chabrot. Considered very old school and a peculiar habit of rural people, and in some company bad manners (!), it’s a tradition that l love to share with others.

There is something about the warm broth and the wine together… and the whole table lifting bowls to their faces. It always stirs something in me. Perhaps it is the thought of a long line of ancestors who tipped their bowls through the generations.  Or maybe it’s just the unique flavor of the raw wine and the broth together.

D'Artagnan the Rotisserie

Here, we chabrot at D’Artagnan: The Rotisserie, our now-closed restaurant in NYC. On the left is Georgette Farkas, the owner of the new Rotisserie Georgette.

You can see how it’s done in this video I made with Ed Brown. We were in the kitchen making poule au pot and I couldn’t resist the chance to show him.

So now that you know, go ahead and faire chabrot!