Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A good dish.

We're getting the first nip in the air in the evenings. Time to break out the chicken chasseur recipe.

I collect chasseur/cacciatore/hunter style recipes.I use Jacques Pepin's recipe (or "receipt",archaically,locally). His recipe is a good baseline to start with. I admire Pepin. He knows the value of work. I bumped into his work early on, before I could do more than boil water; he was head chef of recipe development for Howard Johnson restaurants. They held sole restaurant rights on the Pennsylvania Turnpike many years ago, a true cash cow. I digress, back to chasseur chicken; see the whole point is, what is to hand. A handful of gathered mushrooms (know your ingredients,ahem, very important);some wild onion;a bit of tomato,not a lot; a tot of wine or vermouth; and at the end, tarragon.Sufficient festering time yields a warming comfort food. Pepin's recipe, strangely and presumably to add an acid (why not a vinegar), uses a tablespoon of soy sauce.

Greater minds must help on this question; in the meanwhile I will delve into my latest treasure: a copy of LaRousse Gastronomique,co-translated by Patience Gray. I heartily recommend her flinty prose in Honey From a Weed. My Yankee bargain-hunter side is pleased to have bought LRG for $2.00. Works out to about .20/lb.


Barrett Bonden said...

Larousse is full of French snobbery. Our version has a listing for iguana "said by South American gourmets to be very rewarding". The wording is precise enough to read between the lines, ie, that a South American gourmet is a contradiction in terms. There's another listing for donkey.

Relucent Reader said...

How odd: my ed.(c.1961, Crown publishers, NY, edited by Charlotte Turgeon and Nina Froud.)reads as follows:"Its flesh is among the foods most highly prized by the gourmets of Central and South America.". Is the edition you quote in French? Perhaps the editors of the American edition were being "protective" of sensitive Amurrican eyes, like cutting the 21st chapter in the first American edition of A Clockwork Orange.

As to the donkey, well yes, and many other interesting animals and plants, though for specific fish it is nigh on useless. I do concede the snobbery you mention arises, certainly in the essays on the Provinces.

It is a fascinating read and I hope education for a cooking tyro like me: I am starting with basics such as techniques and discussion of available ingredients. Combined with Elizabeth David on French Provincial cooking, not so snobbish in style or topic,I have a chance of learning.I hope.

Proof will be in the tasting. No thrushes, sparrows, etcetera : though I would try nettle soup, esp. after Ian Bannen's great line in "Hope and Glory" ("What did you eat in the Great War, Grandfather"? "Nettle soup!").

Barrett Bonden said...

I was quoting from memory, though Larousse is on the floor below me. In fact the real quote seems even more damning: given the general tone of the book I feel there is a touch of verb. sap. to the phrase "gourmets of Central (that especially) and South...". But perhaps I'm being cruel. Yesterday I read Le Monde, perhaps France's most authoritative newspaper, even though it's put to bed mid-afternoon on the day before it's published. Given the immediacy of the present world crisis it tends to be a little behind the times. The main headline in its business section was Jusqu'à quand les Etats-Unis pourront-ils vivre à crédit? which is a question France could pose just as well to itself.

But I may be over-sensitive. Having owned a house in France for eight years and lived in the USA for six I often find myself acting like a yo-yo between these two widely differing but equally fascinating cultures.

That revelation about Orange was new to me, and completely shocking. I take it the chapter has since been re-instated.

Finally a case of All My Yesterdays. During the war I ate stewed nettles and, being youthful, responded in a way that prefigured The New Yorker's most famous cartoon. Nettle soup I enjoyed.