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Posts tagged ‘d’artagnan recipes’

Favorite Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

This week we are offering 15% off holiday essentials – we think of them as the “little helpers” to ease you through this year’s holiday meal and make it extra-special. Things like black truffle butter, duck fat, demi-glace and bacon. Imported French chestnuts and porcini powder bring earthy flavor and umami to recipes like classic stuffing. Speaking of which, maybe your stuffing needs a little foie gras this year. These cubes of flash-frozen foie gras are quite handy at the holidays.

For further inspiration, here are a few of our favorite things to make for the Thanksgiving meal. Just click on the photo for the recipe.

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D'Artagnan Food products

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A Salad Post (Scandalous!)

You don’t have to double check – this is the D’Artagnan blog, and you did just read the word “salad.” We are known as hardcore carnivores, but we are hungry omnivores with an appreciation for a well-composed salad. As long as there is some meat on it.

And it’s summer  – the perfect time to try one of our favorite salads, like this smoked duck and cherry salad that serves beautifully as a cold supper on a hot night.

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While this salad is perfect for brunch, it could easily satisfy as a dinner. The winning combination of bacon and eggs works well on a bed of asparagus.

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A somewhat less traditional salad, with the frisée and romaine lettuces lightly browned in butter, makes a delicious surprise.  Then the salad dressing is stirred in the hot pan. Now that is a salad! Watch Marcus Samuelsson demonstrate the technique in this video with Ariane. The rich red meat of squab deserves a bed of salad like this. Did we mention the plums wrapped in bacon? Oh, yeah.

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A yearlong favorite, the simplest salad of all: duck confit shredded and served atop your favorite greens.  Our recipe has an Asian flair, but you can dress the salad with a basic vinaigrette as well, with equally satisfying results. Get the confit crispy under the broiler for maximum effect. Recipe_Crispy_Duck_Salad_HomeMedium

While it seems minimal, this salad of thinly-sliced cucumbers offers a refreshing crunch when paired with lamb.  Is is salad? We will allow it.

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The classic Cobb salad gets a D’Artagnan spin with smoked chicken breast, tiny quail eggs and hickory smoked bacon. We must admit, it’s a a great salad.

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Bacon & Cheese Pull-Apart Bread

Great for brunch, this golden bread is packed with flavorful bacon, cheese, and fresh herbs between each heavenly layer. Adapted from a sweet bread recipe by legendary baker, Flo Braker, this bread is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Serve warm with unsalted butter for an extra decadent treat.

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Ingredients

2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
2¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
3 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

for the dough

For the Filling

6 slices hickory smoked bacon, cooked and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup finely chopped soft herbs, such as flat leaf parsley, tarragon, chives, dill, and thyme
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

for the topping

Preparation

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Add salt and softened butter. Add 2 cups of flour and mix on medium speed until combined and a shaggy dough is formed.

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Switch to the dough hook, and with the mixer on low speed, the rest of the flour a few tablespoons at a time until the dough is formed.

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Knead until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and becomes springy and pliable, about 8 minutes.

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Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a round ball. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Allow to rise into warm location until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

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Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Allow to rest for a few minutes before rolling out into a 12 inch x 20 inch rectangle.

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Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, then season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the diced bacon and parmesan cheese.

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Then add garlic, herbs and cheddar cheese evenly over the dough.

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Cut the dough into 6 equally sized strips.  A pizza wheel works well for this. Using a large offset spatula to lift the dough, stack the strips on top of each other.

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Cut the stacked dough width wise into 6 rectangles. A large chef’s knife works well. Stack the squares on top of each other, cut side up in a lightly greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Once filled, drizzle the remaining butter over the top.

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Cover the loaf with a clean tea towel and allow to rise for about 45 more minutes.

Bake in a 350 degree F preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown on top and the center of the loaf registers 190 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

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Saucy Series X: Bechamel Mornay

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 Béchamel Mornay

I discovered Filet of Sole Verdi when I read a description of it that made me swoon –– sole, lobster and truffles on pasta with a creamy Mornay sauce that’s popped under the broiler to brown a bit. Escoffier invented the dish to impress the composer. With 2 great sauces in it I thought it was perfect for the sauce series.

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Escoffier

But when I looked up the original recipes for béchamel and Mornay sauce, I was shocked.

Escoffier’s original béchamel is made with veal! His white sauce is cooked with pieces of veal for two hours then strained. Remarkable. I will try doing it that way one of these days but decided that, since it was fish, I would go with the simpler, non-veal version that he used for “Lenten preparations.”

Béchamel was named after the Marquis de Béchameil (1630 -1703), of whom Escoffier wrote “After all, if it wasn’t for his divine sauce the Marquis de Béchamel would have been forgotten long ago.” Legend has it that it was invented to sauce dried cod. It is in Varenne’s 1651 Cuisinier Francais made with a veal velouté and cream, so Escoffier’s version echoes the sauce’s velouté ancienne roots (velouté has been around a very long time).

The same was true of the Mornay sauce. Probably named after a “player in the halcyon days” of the 2nd Empire, Charles de Mornay, I never knew Escoffier put fumet into the sauce (fumet being stock-based liquid the meat or fish was poached in). It makes a sublime addition to the cheesy sauce, giving it a bit of backbone.

When you put it together with the sole and lobster and truffles and pasta, ooh la la, you can see why Verdi was pleased with it. It is extremely elegant and if you do the sauces and pasta ahead of time, it can be ready in a few minutes.

Bechamel Mornay 1

Filet of Sole Verdi

(serves 2 main course-4 appetizer)

½ to ¾ lb. filet of sole
1 c fish fumet/stock*
4 c cooked pasta (don’t go too al dente on this, you want it softish to go with the elegant texture of the dish)
1 c cream
2 small lobster tails, shells removed
1 T butter
2 c béchamel
2 c Mornay sauce
1 large D’Artagnan truffle sliced and ¼ chopped (optional)
2-3 t D’Artagnan truffle oil to taste.
Salt and pepper

Put the fish in the stock on medium heat. Add a touch of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes per side –– they cook very quickly. Remove. Reduce the stock to 1/2 a cup. Pour any juices that have collected from the fish into the reduced fumet. If you have a lot of juices, you should reduce a little further so you only have 1/2 cup.

Warm the cream. Add the cheeses to the cream. Toss the pasta with the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 t of the truffle oil and some chopped truffle, if you are using it, and toss just before assembling the dish.

Add the fumet to the Mornay sauce and stir. Warm it. It should be thick.

Sauté the lobster tails for a few minutes. They should not be fully cooked. Chop the smaller end of the tail and add to the pasta. Slice the fatter end.

Heat the broiler. Make single skillets or a large skillet with handles that can take the broiler.

Spoon the pasta into the dish. Lay the sole over 2/3 of the dish. Pour the Mornay sauce over the sole and tuck the lobster at the edge of the Mornay sauce. Heat the pan on the stove for a few minutes at medium-low heat.

Put under the broiler on high for a few minutes. Pay attention, it goes from perfect to burned in no time. Remove and top with chopped herbs. Tuck the truffle slices in and drizzle with remaining truffle oil.

*(I always freeze bones and shrimp/lobster shells and make this when I have enough to make a quart of stock. Then freeze it flat and break it off when I need it or freeze in ½ c portions). You could use chicken stock in a pinch.

Bechamel mornay 2

Béchamel

2 c milk
1 small shallot, sliced
1 clove (optional)
3 T butter
2 T flour

Heat the milk and simmer while you melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter and stir over low heat till all bubbly. Do not let it brown. Strain the milk. Pour the hot milk slowly into the flour mixture, stirring all the while over medium heat till all the milk is used and the sauce is thickened. Add the cheeses and set aside.

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Mornay Sauce

2 c béchamel
½ c fish reserved fumet
1 c grated Parmesan
1 c grated Gruyere

Add the fumet to the béchamel and reduce a little. Add the Parmesan and gruyere and stir till smooth.

Thanksgivukkah Comes But Once Every 79,000 Years

You’ve surely heard. It’s being touted by the media as a once-in-a-lifetime event. The convergence of the Jewish and Gregorian calendars brings us a hybrid holiday this year: Thanksgivukkah.

Hanukkah falls early this year, with the first night of the Festival of Lights on Wednesday, November 27. And Thanksgiving is later than normal on Thursday, November 28.

So Jewish families will find themselves lighting a menorah after their turkey dinner on the second night of Hanukkah. And that means …

Thanksgivukkah

It might have been called Chanksgiving, but in a frenzy of excitement surrounding this unique holiday, the most common appellation is Thanksgivukkah. Seems it’s the winning hashtag. And once the mayor of Boston said he would proclaim November 28, 2013 “Thanksgivukkah,” the name stuck.

Thanksgivukkah has inspired products like the menurkey, a menorah shaped like a turkey (a nine-year-old kid created it!), t-shirts, cards, and an all-things Thanksgivukkah website. Rabbis have been commenting on it, and Buzzfeed weighed in with a credible mash-up menu for the festival (Manischewitz-brined turkey, anyone?).

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Light your menurkey.

Even satirist Stephen Colbert has commented on the phenomenon with a sketch, and this song parody supplies an anthem for Thanksgivukkah.

We are not falling for the hype…OK, maybe just a little. Come on, it’s not going to happen for another 79,000 or so. Let’s celebrate!

That means food in our book. Our friends at Bon Appetit have been unimpressed with the weird Thanksgivukkah recipes populating the internet, and their post about the worst-ever Thanksgivukkah menu had us chuckling.

So we’re just going to recommend a few of our favorite recipes that are appropriate for the occasion.  You decide how carried away you want to get with it.

First up, cassoulet. Granted, we have a little pork in our recipe (ventrèche is salted pork belly), but this bean and meat stew bears more than a little resemblance to cholent, a slow-cooked bean and meat stew served at countless Sabbath meals over the centuries in Eastern Europe. And with all due respect to kosher laws, the pork really adds something special. Cassoulet would make a perfect centerpiece for a Thanksgivukkah meal.

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Cassoulet serves a crowd.

For a more literal interpretation, try our potato latkes topped with foie gras and apples, which we just posted on the blog here.

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Potato latkes with foie gras

The legs of duck make beautiful confit when slow cooked in their own fat, and when they are shredded…well, we think duck rillettes are one of the most satisfying meat spreads around. Slice a baguette and get a jar of cornichons. Long live the duck fat!

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Duck rillettes

And speaking of confit, garlic can be cooked in duck fat for mellow, tender cloves that are virtually spreadable. We like them in any dish calling for garlic, and love stuffing poultry with the savory tidbits.

Cloves cooked.

Cloves cooked.

Sufganiyot are doughnuts, traditionally eaten because all the oil represents the miracle of the oil that Hanukkah is based upon. We use duck fat in the dough and in the fryer when we make doughnuts. You will agree this is divine once you taste them.  

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Duck fat doughnuts.

Of course, for a smaller gathering on any night of the holiday (Hanukkah lasts eight nights…does that mean Thanksgivukkah does too?) , a de-boned turkey breast that has been slathered with black truffle butter before roasting makes a very satisfying feast.

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Turkey roulade with black truffle butter.

Perhaps our newest product offers the simplest solution. Our Jean Reno Reserve Oil is much like the oil used in the Jewish temple to light the menorah. It is pure and is made using ancient techniques. And you can use it as a finishing oil without much fuss or forceful combining of recipes. It’s a lazy, but elegant solution.

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Celebrate the miracle of the olive oil.

Whatever you eat, however you celebrate it, Thanksgivukkah is the rarest of holidays. Enjoy it!

Duck Fat 50: The Duck Fat Doughnut

The duck fat doughnut is a savory miracle. We love this recipe by the incomparable Ian Knauer from  Gourmet magazine, and we continue to believe it is the best doughnut ever. But we might be biased. There is a lot of duck involved.

It’s a perfect recipe for Hanukkah, or for that rarest of holidays, Thanksgivukkah. Sufganiyot, or doughnuts, are traditionally served to commemorate the miracle of the oil at Hanukkah; when you make them with a savory filling of duck confit, they are practically a meal.

We took plenty of photos of the process, which you can enjoy in the slideshow after the recipe….which comes with our heartiest of recommendations.

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Savory Duck Fat Doughnuts from Gourmet, August 2009

Recipe: Ian Knauer

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
Scant 1/2 cup warm whole milk (105-115°F)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus additional for dusting
1 large egg
About 4 cups rendered duck fat, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 confit duck leg
2 tablespoons sour cherry or red currant preserves plus additional for serving

EQUIPMENTa stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; a deep-fat thermometer

1. Stir together yeast and warm milk in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.) Mix in 3/4 cup flour at low speed until combined. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 1 hour.

2. At low speed, mix in egg, 2 Tbsp duck fat, sugar, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup flour until combined, then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape dough into center of bowl and dust lightly with additional flour. Cover bowl with kitchen towel and let dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Discard skin and bones from duck confit, then shred meat. Stir together meat and preserves.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and lightly dust with flour. Punch down dough (it will be soft) and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut into 16 equal pieces. With lightly floured hands, flatten 1 piece of dough and put a heaping tsp duck confit mixture in center. Gather dough up and around filling and pinch to enclose. Roll into a ball and transfer to baking sheet. Make 15 more balls, arranging 1 inch apart on sheet.

5. Heat 2 inches duck fat in a 2-qt heavy saucepan over medium heat to 350°F. Fry doughnuts in batches of 4, turning frequently, until puffed and golden, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 350°F between batches. Serve doughnuts hot, with additional preserves.

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Turkey Stuffing v. Dressing

Whether a stuffing is a dressing, or vice versa, is as much about semantics as whether it is cooked inside or outside the bird. One thing that is certain, both are tasty, fragrant, comforting and satisfying; accompaniments with a balance of texture and taste that complement the bird and pay compliment to the cook. While recipes for many holiday dressings tend to build on bread, plenty call for grains like rice (wild or tame), or even cooked chestnuts as a primary foundation. A dressing also presents you with an opportunity to add a few choice ingredients that can elevate the level of your meal, or step up to an elaborately prepared gourmet bird. Several recipes take advantage of the bounty of autumn and fall harvests, and include fresh ingredients such crisp apples and pears, wild chanterelle and black trumpet mushrooms, and various truffles like the White Alba and Winter Black varieties.

If your dinner is a more formal affair, another grand way to stuff or accompany a bird is with a loose dressing, not based on or bound by starch at all, or with forcemeat such as chicken mousseline. For a full-on gourmet departure, fill your bird with a simple loose dressing of just a few choice yet intense ingredients; for example fresh Wild Boar Sausage and minced bits of turkey liver sautéed with prunes plumped in black tea, and golden raisins darkened in port – of course, with the port thrown in. For a true delicacy, consider a boned bird or turkey breast filled with a duxelles of fresh wild mushrooms or beautiful pieces of foie gras incorporated into a chicken breast mousseline.

For our take on the traditional bread stuffing, try making this Wild Boar Sausage with Apple Stuffing. The wild boar sausage has a hint of sage that is perfect for Thanksgiving, and tastes just enough like traditional pork sausage that finicky eaters will not have word of complaint.

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A D’Artagnan favorite: Wild Boar Sausage & Apple Stuffing

INGREDIENTS

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 package of Wild Boar Sausage
4 cups stale bread cubes, or unseasoned stuffing cubes
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1 to 2 apples peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

PREPARATION

1. In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add celery and onion and cook until soft and translucent. Break up sausage meat into small chunks (about the same size as the bread cubes) and add to the pan. When the sausage is cooked through, add the apples, sage and broth (or water). Bring to a simmer.

2. Place the bread in a large mixing bowl and pour the cooked ingredients over the top. Mix thoroughly to moisten all of the bread. Test seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a covered casserole until completely heated through and starting to turn golden brown on top and around the edges.

More in the category of dressing, this recipe for Sauté of Chestnuts, Walnuts, Fennel and Onions is inspired by the cuisine of Joël Robuchon, and adapted from Patricia Wells’ book Simply French. Ariane loves to make it with our already-prepared chestnuts, black truffle butter and demi-glace, as you will see below.

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Saute of Chestnuts, Walnuts, Fennel and Onions

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups Ready-to-Use Chestnuts
20 pearl onions, blanched and peeled
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Black Truffle Butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 fennel bulb, cut into fine julienne, fronds reserved
4 shallots, cut lengthwise into eighths
1/2 cup walnut halves
Duck and Veal Demi-Glace, as needed
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

PREPARATION

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter each in two medium sauté pans over medium-high heat. Add the onions to one and the chestnuts to the other and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and chestnuts have started to turn golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle each pan with 1 tablespoon sugar. Continue cooking the vegetables, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until evenly glazed and caramelized. Set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons truffle butter in a large skillet over high heat and add shallots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the shallots are translucent, one to two minutes. Add fennel and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring frequently, until the fennel and shallots have started to color. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

3. Add glazed chestnuts and onions to the pan with the shallots and fennel and cook everything together for another minute or so. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and add demi-glace by the tablespoon-full if the mixture seems dry. You may not need the demi-glace. Stir in walnuts and reserved fennel fronds and serve.

If you decide to forgo stuffing altogether, and brave the ensuing riot, or cook your dressing outside of the bird in a baking dish, you can still make good use of the cavity. There is a method of stuffing intended only to add flavor to the meat. It can be as simple as placing rough chopped onions and carrots lightly sautéed with a sprig of fresh tarragon, or tart apples with the skins pierced, inside the cavity. You then remove and discard these dressings after cooking.

One of Ariane’s favorite things to do when not stuffing the bird is to put a few pieces of garlic confit in the cavity. To make garlic confit, melt enough rendered duck fat in a saucepan to generously cover your peeled cloves of garlic, and simmer gently over medium heat until the garlic becomes soft. You’ll be delighted with how delicious these little babies are, especially so without that sharp garlicky edge. Make a big batch and keep them in the refrigerator to use for everything from spreading on bread to flavoring your mashed potatoes.

Holiday Helpers are 15% OFF this Week!

This time of year it’s all about the turkey at D’Artagnan. But let’s not forget all the side dishes that are vital to the Thanksgiving feast.

Mashed potatoes, anyone? We always add black truffle butter to ours.  And who doesn’t love stuffing? You need wild boar sausage and chestnuts for that.

Duck fat and demi-glace are workhorses in the kitchen. And what holiday is complete without a little foie gras and fungi?

Be prepared for anything with our holiday helpers, all 15% off this week.

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Conquering Cassoulet

090102_cassoulet_hpIn recent years cassoulet has really taken off, and we couldn’t be happier. It’s downright common to see cassoulet on menus and in magazines these days….in all manner of variations. There’s even a recently-published book of essays called “The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage.”  We don’t promise cassoulet miracles, but we can help to dispel your fears about making it at home.  It’s a lot easier than you might imagine.

You can think of cassoulet as the French version of chili: A slow-cooked bean stew studded with tender meat that is best devoured by a crowd. It’s stick-to-your-ribs fare, and French towns compete for best cassoulet, much like a chili cook-off.

For more on the history of cassoulet, and some great photos, check this post.

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Ariane serving cassoulet at a cooking class.

We admit to being somewhat purist about our cassoulet, but that’s because Ariane comes from Auch, in Gascony, where a specific recipe is followed. In cassoulet country (as Southwest France might be called), different versions are made in different towns, and the true recipe is much disputed. Some will use lamb (a no-no in our rule book), or crumbs on the top (zut alors!), while others will–and this is only in America–use low fat meats in an attempt to save calories. Blasphemy!

But first there is the question of the bean. The D’Artagnan version of cassoulet requires French heirloom beans: The haricot Tarbais. This broad white bean has evolved perfectly for the needs of cassoulet. With a thin, delicate skin and sweet, milky flesh, the Tarbais bean is a perfect match for the rich duck leg confit and sausages our recipe contains. And the magic of Tarbais beans is that most of them will remain whole during cooking, but just enough will burst and those will thicken the cassoulet during its many hours in the oven. We won’t tell you that cannellini beans are forbidden, but consider that we began importing Tarbais beans because Ariane found no substitute for them in America.

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Heirloom Haricot Tarbais

We use only duck and pork meats, and nothing smoked. Duck leg confit, duck and Armagnac sausageventrèche (a French take on pancetta) and pork and garlic sausage are the meaty ingredients in our recipe, each offering a unique texture. And we never, ever use crumbs on top. With a generous amount of duck fat, cassoulet will form a natural crust of cooked beans. Ariane was taught to break the crust several times as the cassoulet cooks, to thicken the layer of crunchy beans on top.

With all these “rules” cassoulet might seem intimidating. But there’s really nothing hard about preparing a cassoulet feast. Our recipe kit provides all you need (even a French clay bowl for cooking if you like, though any sizable Dutch oven or heavy pot will do), and our easy-to-follow recipe takes the mystery out of the process.

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Our cassoulet recipe kit with clay bowl for cooking.

Plus, Ariane and her good friend, Chef Pierre Landet, made a video together to show you how simple it is to make a competitive-quality cassoulet on your first try.

Really, if you can make chili, you can make cassoulet. It’s a one-pot meal that cooks slowly in the oven, with only a little attention needed. And when it’s done, you can invite family and friends to a filling and satisfying meal. The nature of cassoulet is convivial, so get a few bottles of Madiran or Malbec and set out the chairs. Any accompaniments should be light, like a green salad and fruit for dessert.

Cassoulet JC Quote (2)

Leave it to Julia…

Braising Essentials

Because we are offering 15% off our favorite cuts for braising this week, we thought it was the perfect time to share some tips for this technique.

Braising is comfort cooking at its finest, and it’s surprisingly easy. And while you may be inclined to keep the dishes all to yourself, braising is a great option for entertaining. With most of the hands-on work completed before the dish even goes into the oven there is ample time to spend with guests, and as the braise cooks it warms your home with an enticing, rich perfume. A larger batch is no more work, yet leaves enough for leftovers, no sharing required. Here are some of our braising basics.

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Equipment
There is really only one piece of special equipment needed for braising – the vessel. You should always use a high-quality, non-reactive, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Your pot should be deep enough to hold all of your ingredients while allowing about two inches of space at the top for evaporation and condensation, or self-basting, as we like to call it. If in doubt, always go up a size. Some specialty pots have features that enhance this moisture up/moisture down process, like a cocotte which has small spikes on the underside of the lid allowing for continuous self-basting, or a doufeu, a pot with a recessed lid to which you add ice to speed up condensation. These features are nice but often come with a hefty price tag. For basic braising, we recommend a simple Dutch oven made from enameled cast iron as it conducts and holds heat evenly and can be used to both brown the meat stovetop, then finish braising in the oven for true one-pot cooking.

The long & short of it
There are two basic types of braising: short and long. Short braising, or cuisson à l’étuvée in French, is great for vegetables, small birds and lean, tender poultry such as chicken or rabbit. It’s a fast process by which you quickly brown the ingredients in fat then add a flavorful liquid and barely simmer until just cooked through. The entire process is finished in less than an hour. Long braising or, braisage, uses similar techniques but achieves something different entirely. Tough cuts of meat such as short ribs, shoulders, shanks and briskets are browned in fat, then liquid and aromatics are added and the dish is cooked at very low temperature, staying below a simmer, for a long period of time. Cooking meat slow and low breaks down the sinewy connective tissue, first into collagen, then melting into gelatin. The cooking liquid reduces to become the accompanying rich and complex sauce.

Browning Basics
When browning meat for braising, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, never skip this step as browning the meat is an essential part of the braising process and your dish will lack flavor without it. Lean or tender cuts should be patted dry for a more intense browning effect. Fatty cuts should be dusted with flour pre-searing to develop a nice crust that will help to hold juices in. Heat your oil (duck fat works beautifully!) over high flame until quite hot then add your meat. Get the meat evenly brown and crusty on all sides. Be mindful not to crowd the pan, working in batches if necessary.

Recipe_Braised_Rabbit_CAPT

Get Saucy!
The fork-tender meat may get top billing in braised dishes but the rich, luscious sauce is just as important. This long gentle method of cooking does most of the sauce work for you. There are some subtle tweaks you can make at the end of cooking to adjust the final product and really make your dish shine. If your sauce is thinner than you’d like, simply move some of the liquid to a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat. When thickened, add back into the pot. If your sauce is too thick, add some hot broth or wine and simmer. If you were over-generous with your seasoning, add a peeled potato or two during cooking. The starch will absorb a bit of the salt. Discard them before serving. Not enough flavor? Add freshly chopped herbs, citrus zest or spices at the very end of cooking and offer a bit at the table for garnish. Not enough body? At the end of cooking, shave in a small amount of bitter chocolate! It’s a professional kitchen secret that few chefs will reveal. A light hand will yield spectacular results. If your dish is too fatty, simply chill the whole pot in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it easy to discard. The extra time allows the flavors to marry and concentrate too. If you’re short on time, you can also let it rest for a half hour then skim the top with a shallow spoon.

Quick Tips

When reheating, remove the meat from the thickened sauce and bring it to a low boil then toss the meat back in just to heat through.

Braised dishes freeze beautifully – make a big pot, freeze individual portions in airtight containers and enjoy on a cold, rainy day.

Braised meats also make fantastic leftovers. Try adding to tacos or burritos, shepherd’s pie, pasta, sandwiches or salads.