Yes, we are launching into serious autumnal cooking! It’s time to slowly simmer and tenderize with a braise. And to inspire you, we’re offering 15% off a selection of our favorite cuts for braising at dartagnan.com. From ribs and racks to shanks and shoulders, apply the simple technique for tender results. Our special pricing lasts through October 11, 2013, so shop now.
Posts tagged ‘d’artagnan’
For those who attended Taste of France in Bryant Park last weekend, you already know what a blast the event was. Any of you who missed it should join us next year!
“Indeed, stock is everything is cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.” –Escoffier
Forget about the cans and boxes of watered-down, flavorless stock in stores. The best stock is made at home and the good news is: it’s not difficult to do. You will be amply rewarded with glorious, golden liquid that will boost the flavor of sauces and serve as a base for soups. Professional chefs confess that they dip into a constantly bubbling stock pot when water is called for in a recipe.
When Brillat-Savarin said, “Soup is a healthy, light, nourishing food, good for all of humanity; it pleases the stomach, stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestion,” he was not referring to canned soup or low-sodium, thin broth. Bone broth rich with gelatin was the basis of soup in his day. And French studies on gelatin have found it to be useful in treatment of many diseases, and helpful to digestion.
Rich, homemade chicken stock has been called “Jewish penicillin” for its healing qualities. Bone stock has minerals that the body can absorb easily—important ones like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. Why pay for supplements like glucosamine chondroitin, which supports joint health, when you can get it naturally from bone stock?
How it’s done
Whether making chicken, fish or beef stock, the first thing you will need is a pile of bones. And the next is a stainless steel pot. The one we used is a 14-quart stock pot, but depending on how many bones you have, you can do this in a smaller (or larger) pot.
Waste not, want not. Start a bone collection; save all the bones, wing tips, backs, necks and gizzards from any poultry that you eat. Seal the bones in a bag and store in the freezer until you’ve collected enough and are ready to make the stock. No need to defrost them–frozen clumps can go right into the stock pot. And you can mix raw and roasted bones and bits together in the pot.
If you can get hold of chicken feet, throw them in–the collagen in them makes a gorgeous, gelatinous broth that jiggles when refrigerated. This is the holy grail of chicken stock.
We used a combination of a fresh, raw chicken carcass mixed with frozen chicken bones. Toss the carcass and bones into the pot with the onion, carrots, celery and bay leaves. Cover with water. The rule of thumb here is that meat, bones & water + heat & time = stock. All you need to do is fill the pot with as much water as possible and let time and heat do their thing.
Bring the whole thing to a boil, and skim the foamy scum off the top. Always skim! The effluvium that rises to the top can spoil the taste of the stock, and it looks pretty nasty, too. You can use a broad, flat spoon or a fine-mesh strainer to do this.
Then reduce the heat and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook it, the more concentrated and flavorful the stock will be. You can cook it for 10 hours if you like, or even 24. It will just continue to reduce and become more delicious. About 10 minutes before finishing, add the optional parsley (just throw it in whole), for added dimension and brightness.
Allow to cool a bit before attempting to remove the bones, chicken scraps and soft vegetables with a strainer or slotted spoon. Strain the stock into another pot or large bowl. Allow to cool and skim off the fat as it rises to the top. Be sure to save the fat. Chicken fat, aka schmaltz, is a valuable cooking medium, and a necessity in chopped chicken liver. Or leave the fat in the stock, and pour into quart or pint containers. Do not fill to the top, as the stock will expand when frozen. Store a quart in the refrigerator and put the rest in the freezer. When you chill it, the fat will separate and you can remove it then.
Use chicken stock in sauces, soups and sautéed vegetables. Add some to the water when cooking rice and pasta. You will soon find it an indispensable ingredient in the kitchen. Add salt and pepper when you cook with the stock, but never in the reducing process, or it will get too salty.
What You Need for Chicken Stock
1 whole free-range, organic chicken (or assorted bones)
2-4 chicken feet
1-2 onions, cut in half
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2-3 bay leaves
Bunch of parsley (optional)
The world’s largest event dedicated to France will be taking place at Bryant Park in New York City on Saturday, Sept. 28 – Sunday, Sept. 29. Of course D’Artagnan will be there serving food and working with the cadre of chefs involved.
There will be food, wine, music, fashion, chef demos, literary figures, a French bulldog contest, fun for the kids, prizes and much, much more…we hope to see you there!
Whip up a batch of this garlic confit to keep in the refrigerator and add to just about anything. Ariane loves this trick, and would tell you it’s one of her little secrets in the kitchen. The super simple, 2-ingredient recipe provides soft, fragrant cloves of garlic, perfect for potatoes, bread, pasta, or pizza. After a little bath in hot duck fat, there’s no garlic bite left, just mellow flavor that will complement many meals. Store garlic cloves in duck fat and they will last quite along while (not that we would know, the stuff seems to vanish all too quickly!).
2 containers duck fat
3 whole heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
Melt the duck fat slowly in a small sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic cloves and turn heat to the lowest possible flame. Cook garlic until the cloves float and are very soft.
Pour the melted duck fat through a fine-mesh strainer to catch the whole cloves. Place the garlic into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and strain the duck fat into the jar through a layer of cheesecloth to catch any burned bits of garlic.
A message from Ariane–
It is always a joy to return to my country – Gascony—for any length of time. This summer, I spent 3 weeks there with my family and friends. We rented a rambling old farm house with a swimming pool and we relaxed into the pace of South West France. Which can actually be pretty brisk!
Summer is dedicated to food and music festivals in Gascony, so there was plenty to do. There is the Tempo Latino festival in Vic-Fezensac and the Jazz Festival in Marciac, where Wynton Marsalis always appears. We went to Cuivr’enfoliz, a brass band music festival in Fleurance, which featured 12 brass bands, including some all-girl bands.
Not far from there is the lovely town of Barran, a bastide, or medieval fortified village. If you are lucky enough to visit Barran, you can’t miss the famous church, the 13th century Collégiale Saint Jean-Baptiste. Its spire is helical, or spiraled. In the middle ages, artisans learned their trade by apprenticing with masters and then proved their skill by producing a masterpiece of their own. This church is one of those masterpieces—and a real challenge of symmetry.
Anyone who knows me knows that I adore Armagnac. Maybe it’s a bit chauvinistic, but I truly love the fiery intensity. And, no, Cognac is not the same –I won’t drink it! And in a region known for Armagnac, the ancient city of Éauze is the capital of Armagnac. So, after a day of visiting my good friends Armagnac makers at Domaine de Lagajan, then saying Hello to the Grassa family at Tariquet, we gathered for dinner at a long table under the ivy awning for a well needed solid ration. After the late dinner, we sat at “the loft,” in the middle of the main square to sip more Armagnacs. Their outside cart alone stocks 53 varieties. A “normal” tasting is about 6, but we had to try 14 types, could not decide which ones were better than the others, and have no idea how we got home.
At Domaine Lagajan, under the direction of George, the father, the whole family makes Armagnac the old way, with a continuous still over a wood fire that must be tended for the entire week that it takes to distill pure spirits. The fire under the beautiful copper alambic is a convenient place for the workers to make their lunch while they babysit.
A hallmark of Armagnac production is la part de anges, or the angel’s share, which is the percentage of alcohol that evaporates from the casks, every year. These vapors create a black fungus (Baudoinia compniacensis ) that you’ll see thriving on the alcohol fumes on the walls of the distillery and aging rooms. One can see it on the outside of the building, which is a telltale sign that some Armagnac casks are aging inside.
George accumulated, over the years, a huge collection dedicated to the old ways—farm equipment from the Middle Ages and other instruments we have forgotten how to use. I liked the painting of D’Artagnan at the entrance, hanging above a few swords and a plumed hat.
At Vic-Fezensac, where Tempo Latino is held, we encountered a flock of geese outside the tourism office. We thought they were looking for Youri Buenaventura, who was performing that evening, until we saw the gooseherd with his dog. On their way to the foie gras market, maybe?
Farming is an important part of life in Gascony, but raising bulls for bullfights is pretty unique. Jean-Louis Darré, a man whose entire life and passion is about breeding these fierce animals, invited us to look at them up close, in his ranch near Mirande. The bulls were magnificent to see… from a distance. We couldn’t get too close. Though, apparently when they are in a group, the bulls remain calm, we took no chances.
We also became friendly with a neighbor near the vacation home in Marambat who raises bees. He has 12 hives and how he removes the honey is amazing! It is a little bit stressing but totally amazing to be surrounded by bees with their gentle buzzing, and the smell of the summer fields and fresh country air. He tends to his 3 organic potagers, (kitchen gardens), one of which is regularly stomped by a family of wild boar, and about 2 dozen hens. Like most people in Gascony, surviving and even striving on his own food production is just a way of life.
Ah, the food. It’s all fresh, locally grown on family farms, and every time you eat, you are experiencing the honest flavors of the land. The only time you rely on “foreign” ingredients, is to take inspiration from neighboring Spain, like the day we made a huge paella outdoors, with incredible seafood: langoustines and mussels, and chicken, rice and plenty of chicken stock.
For outdoor grilling, we used the bottom of an old wine press and made pork ribs the country way. The marinade was piment d’Espelette, olive oil, wild oregano we picked ourselves on the roadside and fresh thyme and rosemary from the garden. No BBQ sauce needed!
When I go home I am reminded of the importance of food raised the right way. Growing up in a place dedicated to food – from the hotel kitchen of my father to the surrounding farms and vineyards—taught me so much. Here in my adopted home, I try to bring that sensibility about food to my American friends. Spending time in Gascony reminds me of this mission and inspires me.
It is a region of France less traveled than others, and it is raw and beautiful, full of character and wonder. If you can, go to Gascony. You will see a side of France you might not expect, and you will eat well, I promise.