You may be stuck on French food for the foreseeable future if you pick up French Country Cooking, a new collection of heritage recipes by French National Assembly member Françoise Branget. From the ultra-simple and rustic to the famed complex pastries and luxurious composed dishes that bolster French cuisine’s international renown, you can be sure there are instant favorites to be found.
The Dordogne department is in southwestern France, in Aquitaine, just east of the Bordeaux wine country. Its capital is Périgueux and most of its area was historically called the Périgord. Hilly and verdant, with many castles, the Dordogne is famous for its foie gras, duck and gastronomy.
Pot-au-feu, one of France’s national dishes that originated on farms, is traditionally made from beef and vegetables. It should be prepared the day before, so the flavors have a chance to deepen and meld. Refrigerated overnight, its fat solidifies and is easily lifted off, leaving a clear broth. After reheating, the marrow from the beef bones is extracted and spread on warm brioche, which is served along with the broth.
This typical Périgord pot-au-feu is prepared with duck meat, cooked with vegetables in a broth, and enhanced by slices of fresh foie gras nestled in cabbage leaves — a true delicacy!
- 3 magrets (breast filets) of duck
- 4 duck thighs
- 4 duck gizzards
- 1 duck neck skin
- sea salt
- 4 bread slices, soaked in water and squeezed dry
- 1/2 pound pork sausage meat
- 2 eggs
- Pepper and salt
- 12 cups chicken stock
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 celery stalks, cut in chunks
- 10-12 good-sized Savoy cabbage leaves
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh foie gras
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the pot-au-feu
In a bowl, salt duck pieces liberally and reserve. In another bowl, mix bread, sausage meat, eggs, pepper and salt. Stuff mixture inside neck skin. Sew extremities with kitchen twine.
Rinse salt off duck. In a large kettle, heat stock and simmer duck and stuffed neck for 1 hour. Add onion, carrots, leeks, turnips, celery. Continue cooking 30 minutes.
In another kettle, boil water and blanch cabbage leaves 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Place a piece of foie gras in the center of each leaf. Sprinkle with nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Fold into a package and tie with kitchen twine.
Shortly before serving, taste broth and adjust seasoning. Immerse cabbage packages and cook 5 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove everything to a large platter. Slice the duck breasts and stuffed neck, and remove strings from cabbage. Moisten with a little broth. Serve.