|Bonjour Mes Amis!
And Happy New Year! I hope your 2015 is off to a great start…
I took off for a brief visit to San Juan Island, and knowing that we wouldn’t arrive until 11:30 pm, I packed a New Year’s Eve picnic. I bought a Jacquard Francais tea towel & laid it out on the ferry table, for an impromptu table cloth.
Then I served fennel vichysoisse, gooey cheese from the Jura, & Rosette de Lyon with a sliced baguette. A curious ferry attendant said, “That looks amazing! All you’re missing is the wine!” Little did she know we were drinking Champagne out of our blue Duralex tumblers… 🙂
I hope to see you soon and send you my very best wishes for the New Year. And hey–tomorrow is National Cassoulet Day!
Cassoulet (de Paris Grocery)
Celebrating Le Fete des Rois, Three Kings Day (or Epiphany) is an annual Spanish Table tradition. Spanish Table/Paris Grocery owners Steve & Sharon always host a party for the staff & close family friends. This year things took a French twist… Pictured is Sharon’s magnificent Cassoulet, which even included a little leftover Christmas goose.
Serves 20 or more, depending on the appetites
1 pkg Poitrine Salee or Iberico smoked Pancetta
16 oz Toulouse Sausage
8 oz Bistro Sausage with herbs de Provence
3 onions, studded with one clove each
3 lbs dried Tarbais/white beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
14 oz duck fat
5 lbs pork shoulder roast
Two smoked duck breasts
1 large onion, sliced
18 cloves garlic, chopped
3 pounds canned crushed tomatoes
3 teaspoons Provencal thyme or Serpolet
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups bread crumbs
Tie the clove-studded onions and carrots together in a double layer of cheesecloth and put with the beans, sausage, and bacon in a large, deep, heavy-bottom casserole. Cover with water at least 3 inches above the top of the bean mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the beans are almost tender, about 1 ½ hours. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the onion and carrots in the cheesecloth. Transfer the beans and meat to a bowl, cover loosely with foil, and set aside. When cool, slice the sausages and cut the bacon into bite-size pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the pork shoulder in a shallow roasting pan until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove and when cool enough, cut into cubes. Cut the duck breasts into bite-size slices.
In a large casserole, heat 3 tablespoons of the duck fat over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and garlic and cook gently until the onions are translucent and golden. Add the canned tomatoes, thyme, and cooked beans. Stir in about 2 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid, transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 250 degrees. Remove from the oven and stir in the parsley.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Add the meat, stir to combine and sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Drizzle with the remaining duck fat, and cook until the crumbs are nicely browned and the cassoulet is very hot.
DUCK FAT–THE BETTER FAT
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions regarding healthier habits. Luckily, more & more experts are expounding upon the benfits of using good fats as part of our cooking regime. Here’s two ways from D’Artagnan to get your vegetables in, along with some great flavor. (I can’t wait to try the kale chips.)
D’Artagnan’s Oven-Roasted Veggie Fries
Assorted root veggies, such as parsnips, turnips, carrots, and beets; scrubbed, peeled and cut into ¼ inch sticks
Duck fat, softened
Fineley chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, toss veggie sticks with a few generous drizzles of duck fat. Make sure each stick is evenly shiny with fat. Season with salt.
- Spread evenly, in a single layer, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, flipping halfway through baking time. Fries should take about 15-25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, taste for seasoning and season with salt if needed. Sprinkle with parsley (if using), and serve immediately.
D’Artagnan’s Duck Fat Kale Chips
1 bunch kale, washed and dried
2 tablespoons duck fat, softened
Fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove tough kale ribs and discard. Tear kale leaves into chip sized pieces and place into a large bowl.
- Drizzle with duck fat, toss to evenly coat.
- Arrange kale in a single layer on a ribbed sheet pan, being careful not to crowd or overlap.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and piment d’Espelette to taste. Sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 12 minutes, or until chips are crisp and gently browned around the edges, turning the sheet pan once. Remove kale chips to a bowl, serve immediately.
Confiture de Cerises Noires $7.99 (reg. $13.99)
When I was doing our year-end inventory, I noticed that these had just expired. Our loss is your gain! These are small-production cherry preserves from the Itxassou Valley in the Basque Country of France. Use to make Gateau Basque, serve with Idiazabal cheese or top vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
Le Pigeoulet en Provence 2011, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse $16.99
The Brunier family’s holdings include Vieux Telegraphe (perhaps the most celebrated cru of the Southern Rhone.) This affordable, everyday Vin de Pays is fresh, rich & fruity and terroir-driven. 35-year-old vines grown in rich clay soil, Le Pigeoulet comes from the foothills of the noble La Crau plateau. Grapes are grown on the warm flats around Chateauneuf de Pape and the cooler foothills of Mt Ventoux. Hand-harvested Grenache with a small balance of Syrah, Carignan & Cinsault–silky & clean with the essence of fresh strawberries. A new staff favorite!
Domaine de la Pepiere Clos des Briords, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine 2013 $18.99
Marc Olivier is a legend for good reason. His scintillating whites actually get better with age. In fact, they can hold up to 30 years, taking on the qualities of a great Riesling. I once partook in a tasting of old vintages of Pepiere at a beach on Camano Island that blew my mind. Young, this still made me want to take a bottle home with its honeyed apple nose, and an impressive balance of being both vibrant and rich. I plan on bringing home a bottle, and serving it with oysters and a granita made with our Belberry Green Cucumber Vinegar.
Chateau Pegau Cuvee Maclura 2012, Cotes du Rhone $19.99
Made by the legendary Laurence Feraud of Domaine du Pegau, this is an newer 100+ acre estate named after a type of orange tree found on the property. 60% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre & Cinsault blended in a succulent fashion. Boysenberry nose, with tons of garrigue, cassis & a sun-kissed fig finish.
89-91 Points | Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate