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Greeted upon its publication in 1983 as one of the truly great works of culinary art, Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of South-West France is an exploration of the gastronomic delights of one of France's most extraordinary regions. While its cuisine makes use of sophisticated ingredients like foie gras, truffles, and Armagnac, it is, at heart, rustic, abounding in such deeply flavorful dishes as cassoulets and the delicious preserved meats and poultry known as confits. In her five years of research Wolfert has ...
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Greeted upon its publication in 1983 as one of the truly great works of culinary art, Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of South-West France is an exploration of the gastronomic delights of one of France's most extraordinary regions. While its cuisine makes use of sophisticated ingredients like foie gras, truffles, and Armagnac, it is, at heart, rustic, abounding in such deeply flavorful dishes as cassoulets and the delicious preserved meats and poultry known as confits. In her five years of research Wolfert has collected and refined over 150 recipes from both local home cooks and some of France's greatest chefs, and has produced a book anyone who is serious about food will want to own.
Paula Wolfert is the author of Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco, Mediterranean Cooking, and Paula Wolfert's World of Food. She is married to the crime novelist William Bayer and lives in New York City.
One of France's most extraordinary regions gathers over 150 recipes from home cooks as well as master chefs.
The original way to do this old Gascon dish is to rub a tasty barnyard hen with garlic and then stuff it with many garlic cloves. The hen is then cooked slowly so that the cloves become soft but do not lose their shape. Later the pan is deglazed with Sauternes (which has a high concentration of sugar), and the cloves are pulled out and left to caramelize in the pan juices. The following recipe is a sophisticated adaptation conceived by Alain Dutournier — more elegant, I think, than the original, and with a deep, rich flavor that is highly seductive. In the Dutournier adaptation, I believe this dish is truly great.
The sauce base and the garlic cloves are prepared ahead of time, and the chicken, quartered, is broiled just before serving, Thus one has an elegant dish with a minimum investment in last-minute work. The sauce is really the key: chopped vegetables and bones are cooked in an open pan; the Sauternes is added gradually and allowed to boil away and caramelize before more is added, so that the color deepens; the taste of the vegetables and bones mellows; and the bouquet of the wine becomes intoxicatingly intense. The garlic cloves, cooked separately, are added at the last minute. This sauce can be made up in quantity and frozen, for use whenever you wish.
A pleasant and unexpected beginning to dinner could be Old-Fashioned Rabbit Soup. Serve the chicken with buttered ribbon noodles. For dessert, I'd serve a crisp, warm Gascon Croustade — a flaky Pastry Cake Filled with Apples and Prunes inArmagnac.
Active Work: 30 minutes
Partilly Attended Cooking Time For Sauce: 2 1/2 hours
Partilly Attended Cooking Time For Garlic: 2 hours
Broiling Time: 20 to 25 minutes
1 chicken (3 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup Crème Fraîche (do not substitute sour cream or yogurt)
2 1/2 tablespoons oil or rendered poultry fat
1 3/4 cups thinly sliced onions
1 2/3 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 leek, split, well washed, and thinly sliced
2 pounds meaty veal neck bones or riblets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bottle (750 ml) Sauternes, sweet California Semillon Blanc, or other sweet white wine
1 1/2 cups unsalted Chicken Stock, degreased
Herb bouquet: 3 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 celery leaf, and 1 bay leaf, tied together
2 fresh heads garlic (preferably with large cloves, but not elephant garlic), cloves separated and unpeeled
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 carrots, scraped
Salt and freshly ground pepper 1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons (or more) strained fresh lemon juice (optional)
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
In the recipes for Chicken with Garlic Pearls and Sauternes Wine Sauce and Chicken Breasts with Mussels and Asparagus Flans, an innovative basting medium for broiling is used: Crème Fraîche. To simulate the crème fraîche so widely used in French cooking, see Appendix.
This is a variation of a marvelous creation by André Daguin. It is perhaps the most elegant ice cream I know. It should be made with prunes that have been soaked in Armagnac for at least 2 weeks. To give an illusion of extra richness but not too many extra calories, I add a little heavy cream when the ice cream has nearly solidified. This way the butterfat in the cream will "glide" into the chilled ice cream, endowing it with a satiny texture.
Makes 2 Quarts/ Serves 10 to 12
Prepare 1 day in advance
Active Work: 25 minutes
1 quart milk, heated
1 small piece vanilla bean, split down one side, or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
10 egg yolks
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
Pinch of salt
30 Prunes in Armagnac (see recipe), pitted, plus 1/4 cup of the syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 plump Prune in Armagnac per serving for garnish (optional)