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Growing Mushrooms Organically

It’s Day of the Mushroom today! To celebrate, here’s a little behind-the-scenes view of the process of cultivating mushrooms.

Our wild, foraged mushroom selection varies with the seasons, but our cultivated organic mushrooms are available all year. Grown in large mushroom houses, with just the right amount of humidity and at the perfect temperature, these fungi are a minor miracle.

In an effort to recreate the natural conditions of the forest, pristine wood pulp, or another similar substrate, is steamed and purified, then is inoculated with specific mushroom spores.

 

substrate steamer

The substrate steamer.

The inoculated material is placed in large jars with wide mouths. The jars are placed into trays, and then on shelves, which fill large rooms.  The mushrooms grow rapidly in the controlled conditions, and they are monitored and harvested at the optimum time. Because they are not on the forest floor, these mushrooms are not subject to insects and other factors in nature that can compromise their quality.

piopinni starting to grow

Pioppini mushrooms beginning to grow.

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Reinventing Chicken

Esteemed French Chef Antoine Westermann recently opened his first New York City restaurant.  It’s called Le Coq Rico: The Bistro of Beautiful Birds. And when you want beautiful birds, D’Artagnan is the place to find them.

NY Post Chicken Article

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What is Duck Leg Confit?

What is confit? Very simply, it is a French word meaning “preserved.” More specifically, it is a pre-refrigeration strategy for meat preservation. In this case, we are talking about duck leg; meaty, delicious, and cooked in duck fat and aromatics for hours. This makes it tender and helps to preserve the meat.

Traditionally, duck leg confit would be stored in jars of duck fat, with a layer of pork fat on top for good measure. These pots of confit would make it through winter in a cool basement or root cellar. Today it is kept in vacuum-sealed bags in the refrigerator, but the flavor is just as satisfying.Duck Leg Confit - Plated

In the early days of D’Artagnan duck was the first product we sold. In our “everything but the quack” philosophy, we put each part to good use. Along with foie gras and duck breast, the moulard duck provides hefty legs that lend themselves to confit… and plenty of duck fat for cooking them. And so we started making vats of duck confit!

Technically speaking, duck confit falls in the broad and glorious category that is charcuterie. All smoked, cured, and cooked meats belong there; your favorites like bacon, ham, salami, prosciutto are all charcuterie. Read more

How to Assemble a Cheese and Charcuterie Board

When it’s time to plan a party, we always vote for a charcuterie board. This platter of smoked, cured and cooked meats is perfect for a pre-dinner spread, small bites and cocktails, or even for a football viewing party. But we love cheese almost as much as charcuterie, so it seemed natural to pair them and make one big, fantastically tasty platter.

We highly recommend you try this at home. No need to overthink it! Parties are fun – and cheese and charcuterie should be, too. Just read our primer and then get creative with your own pairings. All of the items and flavors work well together, so you can’t go wrong.

We’ve divided the board into 5 stacks, or suites. You can pick one or two columns in our pairing and recreate them for a small board. Or expand your selection as needed for a larger  board.

The nice thing about all this variety is that your guests can mix and match to create new combinations, or nibble on the items they like best. There’s something for everyone here.

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Passover Meal Ideas

Every spring, Jewish families around the world come together to tell each other a hallowed story of slavery and redemption, to remind themselves why “this night is different than all other nights,” and to partake in a holiday that’s existed, relatively unchanged, for thousands of years.

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There’s much to love about Pesach, as it is called in Hebrew: the gathering of family and friends, the beauty of the prayers and songs, the crazed fervor with which children scour the house looking for the afikomen, the pillow you get to recline upon, as well as the four whole cups of wine one is commanded by the almighty to consume throughout the evening. But the best part – at least for the food obsessed, like us – is that the core of Passover is a huge meal, one of personal and religious significance. Every seder guest knows to expect the basics: a fruity, nutty charoset, parsley, horseradish, and the like. But that’s not to say that your seder has to be ordinary. If you’re looking to make your big Passover dinner a little different, while still maintaining the spiritual and traditional significance of the seder, here are a few ideas.

Matzohs Passover

Chopped Liver

To us, no real Jewish meal would be complete without “Grandma’s chopped liver.” Especially a Passover dinner. That said, we know one way to take your chopped liver to the next level: instead of the traditional chicken livers, go for duck livers instead. Like all things duck, they have a distinctive, dark richness to them that is incomparable, and you don’t need to change your recipe at all. For added flavor, forego the standard vegetable oil when sautéing the onions and livers for – you guessed it – duck fat, and add a tablespoon of kosher wine (port, if you can find it) right at the end. Cool, and serve atop matzoh for a decadent Passover treat.

Quail

If you’re not up on your five books of Moses, you might have missed the fact that quails play an integral part in the Exodus saga. Many remember that, when the Israelites were wandering the desert, God fed them with food from the sky, particularly “manna.” He also literally showered them with quail. So, in effect, quail is something of a divine bird, and what better time to enjoy it than at Passover? Try stuffing some whole quail with charoset before you roast them, or topping the cooked birds with a reduction of wine and honeyed dates. Your guests will be happy you did! Also, to keep things interesting, feel free to place a quail egg on your seder plate instead of a traditional chicken’s egg for a bit more Exodus verisimilitude.

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Capon

Should you be on the hunt for Passover poultry and quail is not your style, a capon makes a wonderful, festive roast. Not sure what a capon is? Back in the day when chicken was considered more of a dish for plebs and peasants, smart cooks realized that castrating a rooster would cause it to almost double in size, a dish fit for lords and ladies. Bigger than a hen but smaller than a turkey, and possessed of a deeper, more robust flavor than your standard chicken, capon is perfect for the seder table. And speaking of chickens, it would of course behoove you to roast a couple of those in the week or two before the big night, making sure to reserve the bones for stock. Would any seder be complete without a hot bowl of matzoh ball soup?

“Chad Gadya” (A little goat)

A favorite Passover song for many families is “Chad Gadya,” a story about “a little goat that my father bought with two zuzim.” The tale spirals almost out of control, ending with the Angel of Death smiting a poor butcher (obviously a song of Eastern European origin), but it also reminds us that goat was for centuries a traditional Jewish dish. For the seder, a goat roast makes an outstanding main course. Does someone in your family have an excellent brisket recipe? Well, that same recipe will undoubtedly work perfectly with a large roast of young goat, whether or not you purchased it for two zuzim.

Brisket

An obvious choice for a celebratory meal, brisket is easy to braise and keep warm for serving. This is especially important for the cook to consider, as the seder can go on for hours before the dinner course begins. The tradition is to stretch the telling of the Passover story long into the night, but with brisket there is no need to worry about drying out or overcooking the meat.

DArtagnan brisket rect

Lamb

How can we forget the paschal lamb, the symbol of springtime, renewal and freedom? If it’s on our plates, we certainly won’t. If you’re looking for a great main course for your seder (and you decided not to go with goat), lamb is the perfect choice. Whether rubbed with olive oil and herbs and baked, slow-roasted or smoked, and whether you choose roasts, racks, or a whole leg seasoned with plenty of rosemary, the smell of lamb cooking in your kitchen is undoubtedly the smell of Passover. We have some excellent ideas for lamb dishes here. And, naturally, don’t forget your roasted shank; some lucky seder guest (or perhaps the cook?) might get some excellent marrow out of that lamb bone!

roast-leg-of-lamb-holiday-recipe

Happy National Caramel Popcorn Day!

IG_BaconDuckFatCaramelCornWe don’t celebrate every food holiday … oh, who are we kidding? We love that nearly every day of the year has a food-related holiday to celebrate. Today it’s National Caramel Popcorn Day!

And that’s why we’re sharing our recipe for caramel popcorn, with a D’Artagnan twist. We’ve enhanced this sticky treat with bacon and duck fat.

This party-worthy popcorn will satisfy the whole crowd – it’s savory, sweet, salty, crispy, and chewy. Try it and let us know how you like it!

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Bacon Duck Fat Caramel Corn

YIELD: 12 SERVINGS

Ingredients

12 cups popped plain popcorn (about ½ cup kernels)
1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
½ cup Duck Fat, plus 2 tablespoons (for coating the pan), melted
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 slices Uncured Hickory Smoked Bacon, chopped into ¼ inch chunks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preparation

  1. Parcook bacon pieces in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until fat renders but bacon is still soft and hasn’t browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F with the rack placed in the center position. Grease a large roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of duck fat. Spread popped popcorn evenly in the pan and set aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together brown sugar, duck fat, corn syrup, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sugar dissolves and starts to emulsify, about 10 minutes. (The mixture may be separated and oily – keep whisking, it will come together as it cooks.) Carefully stir in reserved bacon. Now stop whisking and continue to boil without touching it at all for about 3 minutes more.
  4. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the vanilla and baking soda until the caramel is light in color, foamy, and has doubled in volume, about 10 seconds.
  5. Immediately drizzle caramel mixture over the popcorn, turning with a silicone spatula until thoroughly coated and spread into an even layer.
  6. Bake the caramel corn, mixing about every 15 minutes with a silicone spatula, scraping up any caramel from the bottom of the pan, until a cooled piece of popcorn is very crunchy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour total. (To test for doneness, take a few pieces of popcorn out of the oven and let cool. If they’re crunchy, then the caramel corn is done.)
  7. Transfer the caramel corn to a clean, rimmed baking sheet to cool completely (it will crisp as it cools). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Enter for a Chance to Win $250 Shopping Spree!

We’re having a giveaway – and the big prize is a $250 shopping spree at dartagnan.com!

What’s on your wish list? How about $250 worth of charcuterie and foie gras? Invite your friends and break out a good bottle (or two) of red wine.

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Or maybe a big, juicy heritage ham – you could entertain a crowd, or get several meals out of this ham. Plus you can use the bone for split pea or lentil soup.

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Are you wild about Wagyu beef? Get a stack of the most tender steaks ever and plan a special dinner. What about our pasture-raised beef? From filet mignon to ribeye steak, there is a cut for every beef lover. Plus incredibly tasty ground beef that’s ideal for burger season.

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You could try our exclusive Green Circle Chicken, which is vegetable-fed, free-ranged and beloved by many of the best chefs in the United States…and it made an appearance on Mike Rowe’s CNN show “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.”

DArtagnan Green Circle Chicken Roasted 2

Any way you cut it, there is something wonderful to eat at dartagnan.com. And you could get a free lunch, dinner, brunch and breakfast if you win our giveaway. Enter here for your chance.

What is Duck Magret?

Duck magret –  or duck breast – is the new steak. And the rich, red meat of duck breast is every bit as satisfying as beef. Many restaurants now offer it on the menu, and people are searing duck breasts at home for quick weeknight meals. Duck breast has arrived. But once upon a time, say 30 years ago, it was not that way.

Recipe_Magret_Dartagnan_HomeMedium

In 1985, when Ariane founded D’Artagnan and became the first purveyor of fresh, domestic foie gras in the United States, she had a lot of other duck parts to deal with.

Many years before that, her father Chef André Daguin, had raw duck breasts in the kitchen waiting to be submerged in duck fat and turned into confit. A hungry customer, too late for lunch, arrived and there was not much left in the larder. Chef Daguin pan seared a duck breast, treating it like a steak. This interesting – and delicious – new idea took fire. Soon everyone in Southwest France was searing duck breasts and serving them rare.

Ariane and Dad with Geese

And Ariane came to the United States with that history. So the plump breasts of the ducks quickly became a signature D’Artagnan product. And duck magret has remained one of our most popular items for the past 30 years.

If you’ve never tried “duck steak,” don’t hesitate. It’s easy to prepare, as you can see in this video, where Sara Moulton and Ariane cook duck breast together. It’s also quick – a 30-minute meal with duck breast at the center is a reality. Not sure where to start? We have plenty of duck recipes at dartagnan.com to guide you.

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Ariane and Sara at the stove with duck breasts in the pan.

If you make duck magret at home, be sure to share photos with us on social media! We are @dartagnanfoods on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tag us – we love to see what’s cooking!

 

Why You Should Eat More Duck Fat

There’s an old saying, “When life gives you ducks, make duck fat.”

This liquid gold is the preferred cooking medium at D’Artagnan, as it is in Southwest France. Way back in 1985, when Ariane founded the company, she knew that duck fat was a product that Americans needed. Even if they didn’t know it themselves yet.

The first and most obvious reason is because it’s incredibly tasty. Duck fat offers a rich, silky mouth feel that transforms whatever it touches, without an overpowering flavor. But make no mistake, it has a flavor all its own. If you haven’t tried potatoes roasted or fried in duck fat … you haven’t lived. This is the stuff our ancestors used before industrialized seed and vegetable oils came along. And we are happy to see that our obsession with duck fat is beginning to catch on.

When cold, duck fat is solid.  It goes back to liquid at warmer temperatures. 

Chefs love it because of the high smoke point; duck fat can be cooked at high temperatures without smoking or altering its flavor. And unlike butter or olive oil, duck fat can be recycled. For convenience, duck fat stores in the freezer for quite a long time. So be sure to keep a tub at all times, and be ready for any duck fat emergency. Read more

What is Foie Gras Terrine?

Like many other recipes, the foie gras terrine is named for the vessel in which it is cooked.  Other examples include the iconic cassoulet, named after the cassole (a tapered clay pot) it is cooked in. And the word casserole is from the French for sauce pan, in which a casserole is assembled and cooked.

Much the same, a foie gras terrine is cooked in a terrine mold, usually a porcelain one with a tightly-fitted lid. A whole, raw foie gras  is packed into a terrine mold and cooked at low temperature in a water bath with only a few ingredients: salt, pepper and Sauternes wine.  The foie gras is actually steamed in its own juices under the terrine lid.

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A classic Revol terrine.

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D’Artagnan’s signature Terrine of Foie Gras.

A tip: nestle the terrine on a folded dish towel in the pan of hot water, so the towel holds the terrine still. After the terrine is fully cooked, the excess fat (foie gras butter – freeze it for later!) is drained off and set aside. This can be poured back on top of the preparation to protect it as it rests in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days while the flavor develops. If you want to try your hand at this classic preparation of foie gras, follow Ariane’s recipe. And to see how it’s made, watch our video of Ariane and Chef Wylie Dufresne preparing foie gras terrine and torchon together.

Foie gras terrine

Foie gras terrine

Eating Foie Gras Terrine

In Gascony, the capital of foie gras in France, the terrine of foie gras is traditionally served cold, still in the terrine mold with serving spoons and a bowl of hot water. The spoons are dipped into the hot water, to cleanly slice through the rich foie gras, which is usually spread in a slice of bread. In the United States, foie gras terrine is more commonly served thinly sliced, on elegant toast points or flaky pastry shells.

A foie gras terrine can be unmolded gently onto a clean cutting board. Run warm water over the outside of the terrine dish to loosen it slightly. For slicing, use a knife that has been dipped in hot water to make clean, perfect slices every time. Remember that foie gras is delicate, so it’s best to handle it with care. Thin slices can be fanned out on a platter for serving.

Serve terrine chilled with slices of crusty peasant breast, toasted brioche, cranberry walnut loaf, and any jam or fruit compote to complement the creamy, fatty flavor. Drink a glass of Sauternes or late-harvest Jurançon, both sweet wines from the Southwest of France.