Because of the sheer length of the coastline in Brittany, salt meadow lambs are widely available in the "Pays d'Armor". Those from the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel and from the Breton Islands (Belle-Île, Ouessant) are particularly sought after.
Gigot d'agneau rôti
Salty Meadow Lamb
For 8 people
1 leg of salty meadow lamb, 1.5 kg with its trimmings
Neutral (Vegetable) Oil
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled, just crushed under your palm
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Fleur de Sel
Salt and Pepper
The lamb should be removed from the refrigerator 30 minutes in advance. Prepare a cooling rack over a large plate. Make sure also there is a rack ready to use in the middle position of the oven before preheating to 475°F/240°C/Gas Mark 9 (be careful otherwise you will get badly burnt) at least 10 minutes in advance.
If some of the trimmings are too fatty, remove some of the fat. Season them with salt and pepper. Oil the leg of lame lightly by patting all over with an oiled pastry brush, season it generously with salt and pepper and shoer with thymes leaves by stripping two of the sprigs over the lamb. Discard the sprigs.
Spread the trimmings and garlic evenly in a roasting pan large enough to hold the lamb. Put lamb on top, rounded side up.
When the oven has reached the correct temperature, put the pan in and cook for 20 minutes. Carefully remove pan, turn the lamb with tongs, then return to oven for another 20 minutes for a rare finish. Do not open oven door during cooking except the one time to turn the lamb as the oven temperature will drop and the lame will not be properly cooked.
When the lamb is done remove from the oven and turn off the oven. Put the lamb on the previously prepared cooling rack and season generously with fleur de sel and pepper.Sprinkle the remaining thyme leaves over the top and cover loosely with kitchen foil.
the lamb should rest for 20 minutes. meanwhile, prepare the juices . Spoon excess fat from the surface of the roasting pan ansd add 8 tablespoons of water, stirring and scraping with a wooden spatula to loosen all the cooked-on bits. season with salt and pepper and put back in the oven, no longer on but still hot. Just before serving, put the juices through a fine strainer into a sauce-boat.
Carve the lamb by holding the bone. Slice the fleshy part from the top of the bone (we call it the souris, because its shape resembles a mouse), then carve relatively thin slices parallel to the bone. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and peper on each slice and serve with the roasting juices.
Le Kig Ha farz, a speciality from Finistère
500gm buckwheat flour
750gm best rib of pork shank
1 small cabbage
1 dessert-spoon of salt
1 egg yolk
50 g cream
Put the pork shank to soak. Place it in a pan of water with the best rib. Bring to the boil and then cook for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam. Prepare the farz or dumpling by mixing the flour, softened butter, salt, cream and egg yolk in a bowl. Thin with a little warm water to obtain a smooth batter. Gradually add ½ litre of meat stock to form a thick, liquid batter.Pour the batter into a linen bag and close with kitchen string, leaving room for the dumpling to rise. Skim off the stock. Add the peeled and roughly chopped vegetables and then the dumpling bag. Leave to simmer for about 3 hours. Remove the bag and roll it along a work surface to crumble the dumpling. Arrange the dumpling in the middle of a large serving dish with the meat and vegetables around the edges or even chips and whatever you chose.
One farm rabbit
2 glasses white Pineau des Charentes
12 prunes (preferably Agen prunes)
1 bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
Cut the rabbit into pieces and fry to seal in the juices then add onions (roughly chopped) and fry until golden brown. Add white Pineau des Charentes, then bouquet garni, salt and pepper. Simmer for 40 minutes over a gentle heat then add prunes. Moisten with water during cooking if necessary. Continue to simmer over a gentle heat for 20 minutes.
Serve with fresh pasta, rice, semolina or boiled potatoes.
Châteaubriand with Roquefort Sauce and Château
This is the ultimate experience in beef. Traditionally a special centre cut from the beef tenderloin; a small thick cut located between the sirloins. I consider this tenderloin to be the tenderest of cuts. So do not be persuaded by your butcher to buy a cheaper cut, it does not taste the same!! If he tries then go somewhere else, but NEVER the supermarket!!
An average chateaubriand steak is the thickness of a small roast,weights approximately 340-450.grams and is traditionally prepared as two servings. Anything larger and you are wasting your time and money.
Now for the recipe which will serve 4 people, preparing this dish is a culinary challenge due to the thickness of the tenderloin. Although you want the meat rare, it is difficult to cook all the way through without drying it out. So the easiest method is to sear the meat in a very hot flame, then roast it in an oven.This masterpiece is traditionally served with a white wine, shallot, lemon and tarragon demi-glace.Today, the trend is to serve chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce, however I prefer Roquefort Sauce, so that is what we will prepare today, a dish renowned for its flavour and tenderness.
2 Tenderlions, 450 grams each
Cut the tenderloin in half, about 35 mm thick
Season with sea salt and black pepper
Sear both side of the steaks, very quickly, over a VERY hot flame to seal the juices in, can almost be burnt. Mind your hands!!
Place seared steaks in a pre-heated, very hot oven (Gas Mark 9/240ºC) and cook for 3 minutes a side for medium rare, less if your guests prefer their steak rare.
NEVER serve this dish “well done”, you have ruined it and your guests will not be best pleased.
250grams Roquefort cheese, softened
120grams Unsalted Butter, softened (do not use salted butter, as the Roquefort is quite salty)
420ml dry White Wine
4 teaspoons Freeze-Dried Green Peppercorns
280ml Double Cream
4 teaspoons fresh Parsley, very finely chopped
Garnish with Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
In a bowl, cream the cheese and butter until smooth.
In a saucepan, boil the wine with the peppercorns until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, add the cream, and boil again until it is reduced by half.
Reduce the heat to moderately low, whisk in the cheese mixture, a little at a time, and then whisk in the parsley..
Remove the pan from the heat and keep the sauce warm.
Check for seasoning and add freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Do not add any salt, since Roquefort is quite salty on its own.
PRESENTATION: Serve atop and alongside the steaks, as I do. Then pass the extra sauce around the table in a silver or glass sauce-boat.
450grams White potatoes, peeled
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Finely-chopped parsley
In a sauté pan, melt the butter. Sauté the potatoes in the melted butter for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the potatoes are golden and soft. Season with sea-salt and black pepper. Stir in the parsley
Château potatoes traditionally accompany this dish,
Cassoulet avec de la salade verte dans une vinaigrette de
300 grams dried white haricot beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 onion, studded with a few cloves
1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, a few sprigs each of thyme and flat leaf parsley and a 7.5cm celery stick, tied together)
4 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 Toulouse sausages
4 duck legs
350 grams belly pork rashers, skinned and diced
2 tablespoons goose or duck fat
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 large carrot, chopped roughly
2 celery sticks, chopped roughly
350 grams lamb neck fillet, diced
350 grams boneless casserole pork, diced
300 ml dry white wine
400 grams chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 heaped tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
For the topping:
1 large day-old baguette
2 fat garlic cloves, halved
4 tablespoons goose or duck fat
2 heaped tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1. Drain and rinse the beans, tip into a large pan and cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off the scum, then add the studded onion, the bouquet garni, half the garlic and lots of pepper. Stir, half cover and boil for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and top up with water when necessary.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Prick the duck all over with a fork and put on a rack in a roasting tin. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove and set aside. Lower the oven to 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1.
3. When the beans have been cooking for 1 hour, tip them into a sieve, discard the onion and bouquet garni. Set sausages aside.
4. Put the belly pork in a 4 litre flameproof dish and heat gently until the fat runs, then increase the heat and fry until just crispy. Add the poultry fat and heat until sizzling then add the onion, carrot, celery and remaining garlic, scraping up the bits from the base. Fry over a gentle heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate.
5. Increase the heat and add the lamb. Stir fry until coloured on all sides, then transfer to the plate and repeat with the pork. Tip the ingredients from the plate back into the dish. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and herbs, then season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
6. Add the haricot beans and 850ml water to the dish and bring to the boil. Stir, then lower the heat so the liquid is just simmering. Keep the mixture in the same dish to cook or transfer it to an earthenware dish.
7. Remove the skin from the duck then tuck the duck legs into the liquid. Peel off the sausage skins, slice the sausage meat thickly on the diagonal and add to the dish.
8. Cover the dish and bake for 1 hour, stirring once. Stir then cook uncovered for a further 1-1½ hours, stirring halfway, until the meat is really tender and the sauce is thickened. Take the dish out of the oven and remove the duck legs. Strip the meat from the bones (it will fall off easily) and return the meat to the dish. Stir and add a little water, if necessary. Season if necessary, then return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes until all the meat and beans are very tender.
9. Cut the crusts off the baguette, tear the bread into pieces and put in a food processor. Add the garlic and chop into coarse crumbs (you should have about 200grams. Heat the fat in a large frying pan until sizzling, then stir fry the breadcrumbs and garlic over a moderate to high heat for 7-8 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove from the heat, toss in the herbs and stir to mix, then season well with salt and pepper.
10. Give the cassoulet a good stir. The consistency should be quite thick, but not stodgy. If you prefer it slightly runnier, add a little water. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary, then sprinkle the topping over the surface in a thick even layer.
Serve in warm bowls with a green salad dressed in mustard vinaigrette
Everyone's heard of beef bourguignon or Burgundy beef stew and recipe books will try to tell you theirs is the most authentic. Do not be fooled, the only authentic recipe is the one from the wife of a Burgundy farmer and every farmer’s wife has a trick or two hidden in their apron. My version, well, lets just say it tastes good. However, did you know that it is very simple to make? Stew beef is slowly simmered in red wine and sautéed mushrooms are added later on in the cooking. The meat becomes more and more tender as you cook it in a large cast iron casserole dish so you do not lose the flavour from the browning stage, so allow plenty of time for it to cook before you serve. Your whole house will fill with a divine smell, enticing everyone to the table.
Remember you should start this dish the day before!!
Ingredients for 6 people
• 1Kg Stewing Steak cut into 100gm cubes
• 2 Carrot, roughly chopped
• 2 Onions, chopped
• Two fresh bay leaves
• 4 cloves garlic crushed in their skins
• 2 Cloves
• One bottle of a robust red wine (Cotes de Rhone or Languedoc) at least
• Ten black peppercorns
• 3 Tablespoon Cognac
• Beurre manie (teaspoon flour and teaspoon butter mashed together)
• Tablespoon butter
• Large handful of chopped parsley
• Olive oil
• ¾ kilo mushrooms, quartered if large – but preferably button
• 1 packet of Lardons (Bacon Chunks)
Now the secret with this recipe is to be generous, it is not wildly expensive if you’re lucky enough to live here and is even better the day after. Think more in terms of throwing things in, rather than measuring out exact quantities.
Now you need to get the worst bit over first – invite a friend round for coffee, and make them peel the onions. Don’t let them get away with doing the mushrooms, which only need a wipe with a damp cloth. That’s your job. Peel the garlic while you’re at it, just to show willing.
Find the plasters, sharpen your best knife; put the plasters away. Cut up the steak into chunks, remembering that they’ll shrink a bit so do not cut them too small. Toss the chunks in generous amounts of sea-salt and pepper then put some flour on a plate, season it well, then coat all of the steak chunks with flour. Place the beef in a large glass bowl then add the next seven ingredients making sure that the beef is covered. Cover the bowl and allow 24 hours for marinating.
Today you start cooking so turn on the oven – red hot for the first half an hour, then reduce the heat to Gas Mark 1/2 (Electricity – 140ºC, 250ºF) for the rest of the cooking. Now, if your friend from yesterday arrives make her another cup of coffee then send her out to buy a couple of loaves of fresh crusty bread because you have to concentrate briefly. Having found a large cast iron casserole dish, take the meat out of the marinade and dry it thoroughly on kitchen paper. Now make sure you have opened all the windows or you won’t be able to see. In the casserole dish, pour in lots of olive oil and get it smoking, then toss the meat in four pieces at a time to sear it. Brown them over a high heat on all sides – they should look really crusty almost like a steak – and then take them out of the pan and add the next four, until you have a pile of fragrant beef.
Now turn down the heat, throw all the seared beef back into the dish rapidly followed by the carrots, onions, bay leaves and lardons. Toss it about until the onions look half cooked and the bacon is beginning to burn. Here comes the fun part: Pour over the brandy and set light to it, making sure your eyebrows well out of the way. When that’s calmed down pour in the marinade making sure the meat is covered. If not then add more red wine to cover everything completely. Throw sea-salt and red/black pepper in like it was going out of fashion.
Add the drained vegetables from the marinade to the casserole pot and brown those too and then pour in the wine marinade. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer and pile the meat back in. The meat should be entirely covered by liquid. If not add a little more red wine if you have a bottle handy, bring back to a simmer and place in a low oven (140°C) for three hours.
Cover the dish with foil – if the dish’s enormous you’ll have to put two bits of foil together and pleat it to make it wide enough. Heave it into the oven and forget about it for at least three hours, although it’ll carry on getting better if you can wait an extra hour. However, you should take a peek every hour or so to see if the level of liquid has dropped and the meat looks a little exposed, turn it over gently in the liquid. Even if the meat looks burned, do not be alarmed and do not add more liquid – you need the gentle reduction of the sauce and the darkening of the meat for flavour – if the pan looks totally dry, your oven thermostat has broken! Whilst you are waiting, finish off the remains of the red wine!!!
To serve: Throw on a generous handful of chopped parsley. Serve it from the dish, with tagliatelle and fine green beans if you want to be a bit more exotic. Try not to look too disappointed when the last morsels are wiped from the pan with chunks of bread – you won’t have to eat it three days running, and you could have a takeaway kebab tomorrow, if no-one invites you out.