Maitre Marcel

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Not a simple white bean soup

You could make a white bean soup in about 15 minutes with a stock cube, a tin of white beans and some tomato pulp. This recipe takes a lot longer but the time and trouble is worth it as the taste is rich and smooth.
You need to cook the dry white beans. I used a local variety here in the south of France, the coco de Pamiers. First you put them in a casserole with a lot of cold water and heat it up for some 20 minutes until there is a white foam on the surface. You can scoop the foam away or pour the cooking water and beans through a sieve and then rinse with cold water.
You also need to prepare a stock. I used beef shank and root vegetables and let that simmer for four hours.
I returned the beans to a casserole, added water and cooked for another hour.
Then I filtered the stock and put it in a large pan. Then I added the beans, some vegetables and tomato pulp. I cooked it together for 20 minutes and then added some garlic.
Meanwhile I had cut up the meat of the beef shank and cut up some smoked lard and added these to the pan. A sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste and the soup is ready.

Ingredients
For the stock

A beef shank
Two carrots
Two leeks
Two onions
A turnip
A piece of rutabaga
A chunk of root celery
A piece of celery
Bay leave
“Bouquet garnie” of herbs
3 cloves
5 litres of water

For the beans
300 grams of dried white beans
Lots of water

For the finishing
One carrot in cubes
One leek in rings
The meat of the shank
A tin of tomato pulp
200 grams of smoked lard
Two cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper

Ossobucco – slowly cooked veal shank

Ossobucco, bone with a hole, is one of the many classic Italian recipes that take more patience than skill. The Milanese version has you coating the meat with flour and adding gremolata, a mixture of parsley and grated lemon rind.

Last week I went to the butcher’s in Mirepoix for some slices of cooked ham. Once there, I saw lovely veal shanks and veal tail and I could not resist. The tail I used for a veal stock but here I will give you my recipe for “jarret de veau”.

First I dried the meat and removed some bone splinters, then I tied it up around the bone. My ages-old Marcella Hazan cookbook told me to find a shank with the bone in the middle, but the anatomy of calves is that the bone is on the side of the meat so you should tie them up prevent it from falling apart.

I had some vegetables from the market, carrot, celery stick, onion. I chopped that up with some garlic and set it aside.

I put a combination of butter and oil in a casserole and browned the meat on all sides. I put them aside and added some pepper and salt. In the remaining fat, I baked the vegetables until tender. Then I put the meat back, added a glass of white wine (or vermouth) and a tin of chopped tomatoes. I let this simmer for a while before putting in an oven at 150 °C for two hours, with the lid on.

Towards the end, I chopped some fresh parsley and sprinkled it over the meat.

Rabbit with garlic and sherry

On Thursday’s there is an organic market in Mirepoix where environment conscious farmers peddle their wares to a small group of equally concerned buyers. I usually like the quality of their goods but am not always ready to pay the price. But when you buy direct from the producer, you end up not spending more than in the supermarket while the seller also makes a decent margin. So, when we happened to be in the town on a Thursday, we ran into a man selling poultry and rabbit. We bought a rabbit and a Guinea fowl, heads on.

We were hosting a dinner party one weekend and I took the rabbit out of the freezer to make a Spanish-style recipe. However, the traditional recipe first deep-fries the rabbit parts in a lot of oil. I braised them in a pan, then put them in the oven.

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Chicken livers and carrot, coriander, cumin – CLCCC with some sesame seeds

One Monday morning on our weekly farmers’ market in Mirepoix, the poultry lady had chicken livers.

Not the soggy reddish things in a plastic container at the super market – which are more than decent – but, well, big livers. The point is that most “chicken” killed and sold are in fact still chicklets – boiler, broiler, pullet, roaster – that hardly reach one year of life. Her chickens are adult, they laid eggs for a while and most of the time outside, moved around on the grassy hills, ran to shelter when there was danger. Muscular hens.

So, their livers, with a heart attached, were larger than in the commercial circuit and needed a bit more time to cook. Useless to say, they did not throw off a lot of liquid in cooking and did not fall apart.

I combined the chicken with carrots, and carrots call for coriander, cumin and sesame seed.

So, I cooked the sliced carrots for 15 minutes and fried the livers for ten. Then I mixed them together with the other ingredients and stir fried a bit before serving.

 

Festive capon with cider and apples

A capon is a poor animal as it is a castrated rooster that becomes a fatter bird than its reproductive brethren. It is larger than a normal chicken and is often used in France for the end-of-year meals. Stuffed, you can feed eight people with one bird.

Here I am combining a poaching technique with roasting. This helps getting the entire bird cooked, not just the outside, and permeates the bird with the taste of the cooking liquid, in this case the cider.

The stuffing was made of apples with the filling of “boudin blanc” white blood sausages. You can also use minced meat or just apples.
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