Maitre Marcel

Because food is more than fuel for the body

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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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Duck risotto

The southwest of France is known for duck. duck liver, duck confit, duck breast and duck pate. On the market you can find almost every part of duck to whole ducks without the liver – the prized part – that people are currently buying to prepare their Christmas dinner.

I had some duck carcass left and turned it into a duck stock, with leek, onion, carrot, turnip, start aniseed, nutmeg and pepper. I stored this in empty apple juice bottles.

I had ordered pasta and rice from De Cecco in Italy and used some great Arborio rice and I grated some Parmesan. The combination was delicious.

I served the risotto with a grilled duck breast. Because I had to trim some of the fatty skin, I melted it in a small pan and then filtered it so that I could use the duck fat to prepare the risotto, instead of butter and oil.

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Fresh trout on cabbage

At a market nearby I found a man selling fresh fish from his small fish farm in the mountains, using clean spring water, as many fish would prefer. He used a net to catch the fish from plastic containers on the back of his car.

I prepared the fish in the simplest possible fashion to appreciate the taste and presented it on a bed of green cabbage, leek and a carrot because they happened to be waiting for use in the kitchen.

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