November 22, 2012
Say hello to one of my favorite French dishes.
I know it’s Thanksgiving and another piece of poultry is the last thing you want to think about, but this is special. This beautiful rosy piece of poultry is magret de canard, or duck breast. Traditionally, magret de canard is the breast from a duck raised for its liver, or foie gras, and it’s usually cooked like a steak — seared, finished with a few minutes in the oven, and served medium-rare. Making this recipe also leaves you with several big spoonfuls of sublime, thyme-and-orange scented duck fat to do with what you like.
It’s an impressive date-night dish, something that so terribly French but so very easy. I serve it with roasted veggies and sometimes mashed potatoes, but the bistro down the street serves theirs with fried plantains and a lightly dressed salad, and that is also heavenly.
November 21, 2012
Hello from Nice! I’m spending a few weeks here on the French Riviera to get away from the gloom and doom of Paris. Sad part? Spending Thanksgiving alone. That does feel a bit wrong, even if I did go to that awesome Friendsgiving party last week.
This is a dish I made a couple weeks ago, but I think it would be great to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck or, as in my case, to have as an alternative to a huge turkey (because turkey for one isn’t really plausible, is it?). It’s vegetarian but substantial, with the meaty texture of the mushrooms mixing with the crunch of the nuts. And sage mixed with nuts always tastes vaguely like sausage to me, so I don’t really miss the meat.
If you want extra credit, make this with my recipe for homemade pie crust, but it works just as well with store-bought. Since it’s a rustic galette, there’s no pinching and shaping of dough, just a pretty, lazy folding up of the sides.
November 17, 2012
I know you’re all sick of pumpkin recipes by now, and you’re probably saving your last bit of pumpkin tolerance for that pie at the Thanksgiving table next week, but I have something a bit on the left end of the pumpkin spectrum for you today. Something savory and warm that doesn’t get mixed with brown sugar or topped with pecans.
I know pumpkin shrimp curry sounds weird, but it totally works. The sweetness of the pumpkin melds with the curry powder and cumin to make a warm, slightly spicy sauce that doesn’t remind you of pumpkin pie at all. Serve it over steamed whole grains for a comforting, substantial, seasonal dinner.
November 9, 2012
I’ve been craving fried chicken for weeks. The problem is, I know that a proper fried chicken involves buttermilk, and I didn’t know where to get buttermilk in Paris.
Sure, I could have used the usual trick of mixing a spoonful of vinegar into milk, but that’s really just an acidity adjustment. I wanted the actual flavor of cultured buttermilk. I was bemoaning my fried chicken-less state to a friend when she mentioned that some crepe places sell a drink called lait ribot, which tastes a lot like buttermilk.
I had known about lait ribot and seen it on some menus, and I knew that it was cultured, soured milk, but I don’t know why I didn’t connect it to what Americans call buttermilk. Well suffice it to say I immediately went to my fromagerie and asked if they carried lait ribot, to which the nice lady handed me a liter with a “… vous connaissez lait ribot?” I guess it’s an acquired taste here, too.
The problem with fried chicken is that usually, I want it now, but good fried chicken takes a day or so of prep. You let it sit in an herby, oniony brine that saturates the chicken, flavoring it all the way through and ensuring that the cooked meat will be perfectly seasoned and juicy.
Ruhlman’s brine is so simple and so effective — I’ve never had a more tender piece of chicken in my life, and it took so little effort that I’m tempted to use it on every piece of poultry I bring home. The breading here is exactly what you want from fried chicken, with baking soda that reacts with the buttermilk to create that fluffy, crackly lift and paprika and cayenne for a low buzz of spice. And of course, it’s excellent cold as well as hot out of the fryer.