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Posts tagged ‘recipe’

Roast Gala Goose Recipe

Forget your fear of flabby, greasy goose! This do-ahead method produces a succulent, flavorful bird with crispy skin. After poaching, only a half-hour of high-heat roasting is needed before serving.  It’s a classic and perfect centerpiece for a Christmas meal and should serve six.

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Ingredients

One 9 to 11lb goose
3 tablespoons rendered goose fat
1½ cups each coarsely chopped carrots, onions, and celery
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups dry white wine
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
Peelings from 1 green apple (optional)
6 cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, cleaned, and coarsely chopped, liquid strained and reserved
½ cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons Armagnac
1 tablespoon red currant jelly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Remove giblets and neck from cavity, pull off any loose fat, and cut off first 2 wing joints, if still attached, and reserve. Wash goose, tie legs together, pick bird all over, and set aside.
  2. Put goose fat in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and render about 3 tablespoons of fat. Remove and discard remaining fat (or use later). Add giblets, wing pieces, neck, and vegetables to pan. Sauté until vegetables are browned, about 7 to 8 minutes, turning frequently. Sprinkle on flour, adjust heat to medium, and continue cooking until flour is lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Pour chicken stock and white wine into a covered roasting dish large enough to hold the goose, and bring to a boil. Add goose, breast side down, pieces of browned goose, and vegetables, parsley, apple peelings, cloves, and bay leaf. Pour in enough water to cover goose by about two-thirds, and bring to a simmer. Whisk a cup of this liquid into the sauté pan, then scrape the thickened liquid back into the roasting pan.
  4. Cover pan and cook very gently, regulating heat, if necessary, to keep it just simmering.
  5. After an hour, turn goose over, being careful not to break the skin. (A pair of rubber gloves is an easy way to do this.) Poach goose a total of 2 to 3 hours, or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork. Turn off heat and finish immediately, later in the day, or the next day.
  6. Recipe may be done ahead to this point.
  7. To finish immediately, preheat oven to 450° F.
  8. Remove goose from liquid, drain, and place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until skin is brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. Take out of oven, and allow to stand for about 5 to 20 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, skim grease from pan liquid and strain to remove pieces of goose, vegetables, and seasonings. Discard pieces of goose and seasonings. Purée vegetables in a blender or food processor, and add back to pan. Boil quickly to reduce liquid by about half.
  10. Add porcini and soaking liquid, cherries, Armagnac, and red currant jelly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and keep warm until needed.
  11. To finish later or the next day, cover pan and set in refrigerator. When ready, remove layer of fat from liquid. Lift out goose and bring liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, then reheat goose in stock for about 10 minutes while preheating oven. Proceed with recipe as above.

Saucy Series Part V: Sauce Robert

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 Robert

Sauce Robert is one of the ancient sauces. Mentioned in literature and dating from at least the 15th century, it remained popular right through to the 19th century (although you can still buy bottled Sauce Robert, it is nothing like the original).

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La Varenne

The sauce is used brilliantly in the 17th century by the legendary cook La Varenne in a dish made with pork (you can read more about the history HERE.) This is no surprise since the sweet and sour oniony mustard sauce is a perfect accompaniment to pork.

Although the original was made with the whole loin, I decided that I would use D’Artagnan’s tenderloin for this recipe since I love the texture. Also, D’Artagnan’s Berkshire Pork has such a full flavor, unlike any supermarket tenderloin you are used to. It’s great pork, and the careful way it was raised can be tasted. Since it cooks quickly, a meal fit for a king can be ready in no time. Cooking the onions slowly is the longest step.

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Pork Tenderloin with Sauce Robert, serves 4

2 pork tenderloins
1 T lard or butter
1 large onion chopped
2 T butter
½ t salt and ½ t pepper*
pinch ground cloves
¾ c verjuice ** + ¼ c white wine vinegar OR ½ c white wine and ½ c white wine vinegar
2 small bunches sage leaves
½ c demi-glace
2 T grainy mustard

1. Heat the butter in a skillet and add the onions and one of the sage bunches. Cook at low heat for about ½ an hour till soft and sweet, stirring regularly.

2. Preheat oven to 425º.

3. Put the lard or butter in the heated pan, salt and pepper the tenderloins, put in the skillet and brown the meat over high heat for a minute or two on each side. Put them in the oven for 10 -15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145º. Remove from the oven and tent while you finish the sauce.

4. Remove the sage, add the verjuice and vinegar and begin reducing over medium-low heat. Add the demi-glace and stir till you have a thick sauce. Pour any juices from the pan (after removing excess fat) and pour any accumulated juices from the plate into the sauce. Add the salt and pepper and cloves.

5. Taste for seasoning and then add the mustard. Serve with the sliced tenderloin garnished with the rest of the sage.

*originally long peppers and grains of paradise would be used…they are great so use them if you can get them.

** verjuice is vinegar-like but milder and absolutely delicious –– refrigerate after opening

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.

17 Donuts on the Rack

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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Ariane Talks Turkey on TV

Ariane appeared on ABC 7 Eyewitness News yesterday to share her tips for making the perfect turkey this Thanksgiving.  If you missed it, you can watch the video  and get Ariane’s recipes here. For more turkey recipes, go to our website.

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Ariane preps for the cameras.

Ariane brought three different types of turkeys — wild, heritage and organic — to the studio. Each offers something different for your Thanksgiving feast. Learn more about our birds here.

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Michelle Charlesworth asks Ariane about the different turkeys available at dartagnan.com.

With a whole Thanksgiving meal (and wine!) set up in the studio, no one went hungry.

Ariane on Eyewitness News

Ariane force feeds the team. L-R Amy Freeze, Ariane, Michelle Charlesworth, Alisha from D’Artagnan and Phil Lipof.

Duck Fat 50: Ultimate Movie Night Popcorn

Movie night goes glam with this indulgent popcorn, cooked on the stove top. Because it’s so easy to pop this way, and it’s more fun than the microwave.  The duck fat gives it texture and a certain satisfying flavor, but the truffle butter takes it to another level. Serve it family-style, in a large bowl, or go for the in-theatre experience and use individual paper cones. But be warned: this popcorn is addictive.

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INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup high-quality popcorn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons duck fat
  • 2 tablespoons black truffle oil
  • 3 tablespoons black truffle butter
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated super-fine
  • Big pinch of dried Herbs de Provence
  • Maldon sea salt, to taste

PREPARATION

1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt truffle butter. Remove from heat, add the truffle oil and set aside.

2.  Heat the duck fat and 1 popcorn kernel, over medium-high heat, in a large pot with a lid. As soon as the kernel pops, add the rest of the popcorn, cover the pot and shake over the heat—quickly moving the pot back and forth over the burner—until the popping stops.

3. Pour half of the popcorn into a large mixing bowl, removing any unpopped kernels. Drizzle half of the butter-oil mixture and sprinkle half of the cheese and herbs over the popcorn, tossing to evenly distribute. Repeat with the rest of popcorn. Season to taste with Malden salt and serve immediately.

Turkey Breast Recipes

The question of whether you prefer white or dark meat is a crucial one at Thanksgiving. But how can one turkey yield enough of the preferred meat for each diner? The simple answer is to augment the whole roasted turkey with a turkey breast.  And the overwhelming majority of people prefer the pale, juicy meat of the breast (don’t look at us! We like it dark).  You can roast the breast whole, or debone it, stuff and then roast it. Here are three tempting recipes that work for Thanksgiving, but are also perfect for any meal.

Simple Roasted Turkey Breast

Here’s a basic technique for roasting a bone-in turkey breast, which is great for smaller holiday gatherings or even a sunday roast. Add your favorite herbs and spices as you wish.

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INGREDIENTS

4-6lb bone-in turkey breast
2 tablespoons duck fat, softened
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water, if needed

PREPARATION

1. With the rack in the center position, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fit a small roasting pan with a V-shaped rack.

2. Rub softened duck fat (or olive oil) over turkey breast, and season with salt and pepper. Center turkey breast on rack, skin side up. Transfer to oven, and roast until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. (If at any point the butter/juices in the pan start to burn, add about ½ cup water to the pan.)

3. Transfer to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Turkey Roulade with Black Truffle Butter

This simple turkey breast roulade not only makes a fabulous holiday centerpiece, it makes versatile leftovers too!

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INGREDIENTS

4-6lb bone-in turkey breast
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3oz. container black truffle butter, softened
½ cup water, if needed

PREPARATION

1. With the rack in the center position, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Using a sharp boning knife, place knife close to bone and carefully remove breast from bone, keeping breast meat connected. Place deboned breast skin-side down on work surface. If necessary, carefully pound breast between plastic, keeping skin intact, to make even. Season with salt and pepper then spread evenly with truffle butter.

3. Fold left and right sides in toward center and roll evenly until both sides meet. Turn rolled breast so skin side is facing up and adjust shape as necessary. Using kitchen twine, tie at 2-inch intervals. Transfer to a roasting pan and season the outside with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer roasting pan to oven and cook for 30 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 hour more. (If at any point the butter/juices in the pan start to burn, add about ½ cup water to the pan.) Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Turkey Breast with Mushroom Stuffing

This simple turkey breast roulade is packed with earthy flavor from mushroom duxelles and sauteed leeks. Delicious.

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INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons black truffle butter
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 pound organic chef’s mix mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons water
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small leek, cleaned, trimmed, and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sherry-wine vinegar
6-8lb organic turkey breast
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

PREPARATION

1. Heat truffle butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add 2 tablespoon water; season with salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes more.

2. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a food processor; pulse 2 to 3 times to coarsely chop. Set chopped mushroom mixture aside. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil to skillet and heat over high heat. Add leek and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring until leek is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped mushroom mixture to skillet and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add vinegar; stir to combine. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature before using. (This can be done up to 1 day ahead!

3. With the rack in the center position, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

4. Using a sharp boning knife, place knife close to bone and carefully remove breast from bone, keeping breast meat connected. Place deboned breast skin-side down on work surface. If necessary, carefully pound breast between plastic, keeping skin intact, to make even. Season with salt and pepper then spread evenly with mushroom stuffing, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don’t mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. Starting at 1 end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Carefully turn roulade skin side up and reshape if necessary. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

5. Place roulade on a rack over a sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees F in the center. Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let stand, loosely tented with foil, at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Turkey Breast Roulade with Brioche & Sausage Stuffing

This recipe is great for smaller holiday gatherings. Once you master the roulade technique, you can use any of your favorite stuffings, but we love this one which contains both salty and sweet bites.

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INGREDIENTS

7-10 lb organic turkey breast, deboned & butterflied
Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 cups stale brioche cube
1 package duck & Armagnac sausage
12 pitted prunes, diced
1 small stalk celery, diced
½ medium carrot diced
1 two-inch section of leek, sliced thin
1 shallot
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 leaves fresh sage, chiffonade
4 tbs butter, melted
1 cup chicken stock

PREPARATION

1. Make your stuffing: Remove the duck & Armagnac sausage from its casing and place in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking up any large chunks as it cooks. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a large bowl and set aside. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the sausage fat from the pan. Place the pan over medium heat. Add celery, carrot, shallot and leek. Cook, scraping up the crispy browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until soft and translucent. Add to the sausage.

2. While the sausage/veggie mixture is still warm, stir in the herbs. Add toasted brioche, mix to combine. Season with salt & pepper. Add melted butter and chicken stock. Using your hands, turn the mixture to combine, squeezing the bread cubes to moisten. Stir in prunes. Set aside.

3. Debone your turkey breast: using a sharp boning knife, carefully run the blade as close to the bones as possible, all around the rib cage and up to the back, to remove. It’s easiest to work on one side at a time. Be mindful to keep the breast intact. Reserve bones for stock. If the breast meat is too thick to roll, butterfly it or carefully pound with a meat mallet to flatten a bit. Keep breast skin side down, season with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Spread stuffing evenly, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don’t mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. Starting at 1 end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Carefully turn roulade skin side up and reshape if necessary. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

4. Place roulade on a rack over a sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees F in the center. Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let stand, loosely tented with foil, at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Four Prunes Day

A message from Ariane

Today is a strange food holiday: Four Prunes Day. I believe it refers to the idea that four prunes a day will keep the doctor away. But I am happy to take the opportunity on this official holiday to share my affection for this little wrinkly fruit with you.

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Sadly, prunes seem to be the punch line to a joke in America, valued only for their fiber, not flavor. But in Gascony, where there are about 3 million plum trees, we know that prunes are special.  Prunes have been part of the gastronomic heritage of Southwest France for centuries.

Originally brought by the Greeks and Romans from China, and planted all through the Mediterranean, the plum holds a special place in the city of Agen, where the famous Prune d’Ente trees produce luscious plums that are well-suited to drying. These are the renowned pruneaux d’Agen, or Agen prunes.

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Vintage postcard of harvest in Agen

These particular plum trees were developed in the 13th century by Benedictine monks who crossed the existing trees with a variety the Crusaders brought home from Syria. The tree survived harsh winters, world wars and triumphed in the 21st century, when it was recognized in 2002 by the EU with the Indication Géographique Protégée.

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Sorting plums in Agen

Everyone in France knows that Agen is the place for the sweetest, juiciest, plumpest prunes, and a visit there would reveal a myriad of ways to eat prunes.

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Agen prunes in their natural setting

At D’Artagnan, we have incorporated prunes into several products that reflect the flavors of my area of France: Duck Terrine Mousquetaire, which is a coarse-ground pâté of duck (the livers, too), pork meat, a dash of Armagnac and studded with prunes.

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D’Artagnan Duck Terrine Mousquetaire

And our famous French Kisses, which are prunes that have been marinated in Armagnac and then stuffed with mousse of foie gras. They are the perfect amuse bouche, and are a favorite at parties. I wouldn’t be caught without them on New Year’s Eve.

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D’Artagnan French Kisses

Which reminds me of a fun story. Back in the early days of D’Artagnan, I was invited by Michel Richard to help honor Julia Child on her 80th birthday. He invited many prominent chefs and 500 guests to his Los Angeles restaurant, Citrus, for a feast. With so many meals to prepare, the mise en place (prep work) was being done all over town. I was supposed to work at the hot foie gras station. I had also brought foie gras mousse and pitted prunes soaked in Armagnac with me from New Jersey, so I could make French Kisses.

That morning the kitchen was a mess. Celebrated chefs such as Jean-Louis Palladin, Vincent Guerithault and Thomas Keller were working like maniacs to get their dishes organized. TV reporters and journalists followed them around, asking questions, trying to get a sound bite or quote. Cameras flashed.

I found a little corner to work in the hallway, and started by draining the Armagnac from the soaked prunes into Styrofoam cups, which were the only thing I could find to use. As Laurent Manrique and I piped the mousse into the drained prunes, the smell of foie gras and Armagnac filled the air. Daniel Boulud, standing nearby, got a whiff of the Armagnac-prune juice and took a judicious sip from one of the cups.

Just then the late Pierre Franey came ambling down the hall and asked Daniel what we was drinking. “Coffee,” he said with an obvious wink, and offered the cup to Franey. Without thinking, Franey knocked back a swig of fruity Armagnac, and at 10 A.M. got a true French kiss. And the best part was that the live TV cameras were in tow behind him. So after his first big gulp he tried to hide his surprise, with some difficulty. By the second gulp he got it right and kept a straight face.

Prunes soaked in Armagnac are a common item served in Gascony, and when sipped with some of Franey’s “coffee,” they make a lovely after dinner treat.

And for a truly luxurious dessert, try my father’s recipe for prune and Armagnac ice cream. Are you sensing that prunes and Armagnac were made for each other? It’s common knowledge in Gascony.

Ulterior Epicure Prune Armagnac Ice Cream

Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream, photo via flickr user Ulterior Epicure

Ages ago my father, Chef André Daguin, not only pioneered this now-famous recipe, but also was the first to use liquid nitrogen in his kitchen to make it. This was before anyone heard of molecular gastronomy, of course. Get started on this 2 weeks before you want to eat it, so the prunes can really marinate in the Armagnac.

ANDRE DAGUIN’S VANILLA ICE CREAM WITH PRUNES AND ARMAGNAC

Four to six servings –  Preparation time: 25 minutes  -  Standing time: At least 2 weeks  -  Chilling time: Several hours  -  Freezing time: Varies

16 pitted soft prunes
1 cup Armagnac
1 cup whole milk
1 long vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise, giving four quarters—or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
1/2 to 3/4 cup natural wildflower honey to taste
Pinch of salt
1 cup whipping cream

1. Two weeks or more in advance, place prunes in a large clean jar or crock. Add Armagnac to cover. Cover jar or crock and set aside in a cool place to steep.

2. When ready to make ice cream, measure out 1 cup moderately packed prunes and fill up remainder of cup with Armagnac; set aside. Use remaining prunes for garnish.

3. Scald milk with vanilla bean (but not vanilla extract); set aside. Whisk egg yolks over very low heat in medium, nonreactive saucepan until warm. Continue whisking, adding honey gradually. When all honey is added and honey has begun to dissolve, remove saucepan from heat. Do not boil. Whisk in hot milk and salt.

4. Return saucepan to low heat. Cook and stir until custard is thick enough to coat a spoon heavily, about 170 to 180 degrees on an instant-registering thermometer. Do not boil. Immediately strain mixture into a bowl. Stir in cream and vanilla extract if using.

5. Refrigerate, covered, until very cold. Then beat very vigorously with whisk or electric beaters.

6. Strain custard mixture into an ice cream freezer. Follow manufacturer`s directions for freezing. When ice cream is just beginning to set, drop in prunes one by one (while machine is still in operation) and drizzle in Armagnac. Continue freezing until ice cream is firm.

7. To serve, scoop out ice cream, top with an extra prune, and drizzle some Armagnac over it.

You can cook savory dishes with prunes, too. Roasted with meats like porklamb, rabbit, or game, prunes can offer a bit of sweetness.  A favorite little treat of mine is a prune wrapped in bacon, either duck or pig variety work just fine.

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Stuffed Pork Loin with Prunes and Porcini, recipe at dartagnan.com

Whether  coated in chocolate, stuffed with foie gras or Roquefort cheese, soaked in Armagnac, baked in pies and pastries, or simply eaten out of hand on a cheese board, the prune is a ubiquitous part of life in Agen, and a beloved fruit of Southwest France. So Happy Four Prunes Day!  I hope you will enjoy some prunes today, and if you have a little Armagnac, wash them down with that elixir. You can’t go wrong.

Making Chicken Stock

“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.

Stock cooling in quart containers

Health benefits

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?

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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)
 

 

Garlic Confit: A Duck Fat Secret

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!).

Ingredients

2 containers duck fat
3 whole heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled

Preparation
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.

garlic in pot

Cloves of garlic simmering in duck fat.

Cloves cooked.
Checking on the progress of garlic cloves.

Cloves drained in bowl.

Cloves drained in bowl.

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