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Friday, October 29, 2004

Boudin Blanc



Sausage is a very good way of using up those bits and pieces of flesh that aren't pretty as a roast or a steak. A friend once said that there were no saucisse, sausages in Nouvelle France in the 18th Century because they did not have sausage stuffers. The Lewis & Clark journals describe a way that it may have been done, but I am too fumble fingers to do it. I use a large tin funnel and insert the long end into the casing and use a wood reemer to push the forcemeat through. In Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789, page 61, is an engraving of Winter, from the Four Seasons by Crispin de Passe after Martin de Vos, showing hanks of sausages in the border. So I will again use my spice mixture from her book, as I find the taste is very much as I remember from a child. My grandfather, Joseph Marie Blanc, was from Aymavilles, Aste, Italy, just over the border from France, and I make and eat these sausages in his memory. To see boudins being made, click here.

Soak 4 ft of beef casings for an hour in cold water and flush twice with a faucet

1 large onion, minced, sautéd in 2 tbls of butter, cool

In a large bowl, soak 1 c of freshly ground bread crumbs with 1/2 c light cream

Grind 8 oz of skinless chicken breasts with 8 oz of hamburger and 1 handful of duck or goose fat twice with the fine blade of meat grinder or use two knives brought down over the meat alternately with a rhythmic action to preserve the juices in the meat and to incorporate the meats and fat together

Add the meat to the large bowl of crumbs along with the onions.

Add 1 1/2 teas. mixed spices, 1 tbls salt and gresh ground white pepper to taste

Add two slightly beaten eggs and 2-4 tbls of brandy or white wine

Use your hands to completely mix the forcemeat together.

Tie one end of the casing into a knot and begin pushing the other end over the end of the funnel. Try to push evenly so as not to have air bubbles in your sausage. Twist it into 4-6 inch lengths and tie the other end with twine, as well as the twists in the lengths. Prick each link with a needle 2 times to keep the sausage from bursting during cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to boil into which you put a rib of celery with a sprig of thyme tied to it, a carrot sliced, one onion sliced and salt and pepper to taste. Once this broth is simmering, slowing let your sausages down into the liquid and cover with a ceramic plate to keep the sausages submerged. Cook gently for 1/2 hour. Remove and drain.

To serve, fry gently in butter until lightly brown and garnish with grilled onions.

Recipe from James Villas, The French Country Kitchen, p. 184.

Next: Making Quince Paste, pâte de coings, to save for the winter holidays.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Paté de Campagne



October. Butchering time. Fresh venison hangs in an outbuilding. In addition to the plump old chicken stewing in the pot over the fire for tonight's dinner, I have some turkey from that pesky old tom I can grind (his flesh is too tough to do much else with) and a rasher of bacon (tranche de lard–and here let me insert that even though I am a reenactor of 18thC New France where pork was a mainstay, I do not eat pork, so I will always be using a substitute), in this case turkey bacon. I have company coming on Friday evening for dinner, so I will cook this paté (country terrine) on Tuesday as its flavor improves with age.

In a large bowl add:
1. 1 medium onion finely chopped and sautéd in 1 tbls. of butter.
2. 2 cloves of garlic and a pinch of coarse salt ground together in a
mortar .
3. 1 tbls. of chopped parsley, 1 tbls. mixed dry herbs (I use herbs de Provence), 1 tsp. mixed spices* (see source following), 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 eggs, 1/4 c. eau de vie (brandy)
4. Mix well and stir in 1 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs.
5. Grind together or chop 1 lb. turkey, 1/2 lb. venison or beef or chicken, cubed, 1/2 lb chicken liver and a handful of chicken fat or use a mezzaluna or two knives brought down over the meat alternately with a rhythmic action to preserve the juices in the meat and to incorporate the meats and fat together.
6. Stir meat into mixture in bowl and continue to mix with hands as in mixing meatloaf.
7. Fry a small bit to see if the seasoning is sufficient (never eat raw meat). Adjust if necessary.
Line a terrine or paté dish(set the cover aside) with strips of turkey bacon so that pieces are hanging over the side of the pan. Pack the paté mixture into the bacon-lined pan, tap it against the counter to release any air bubbles and fold the strips of bacon over the meat. Lay a leaf or two of bay and a sprig of thyme on top. Set the cover on.
8. Place pan in another larger pan and fill with water half-way up the sides of the paté pan. Cook the paté in a preheated 350°F [180°C] oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and hot (or meat thermometer reads 160°F).

Remove the terrine and place it on a plate, place a board cut to fit the terrine's inside onto the paté and weight it down. Allow it to cool and then place it in the springhouse with the weights in place overnight. Remove the weights the next day, replace the lid of the terrine and keep it cool until serving time. Slice the paté, just before serving, while it is still cold. Cornichons (pickled gherkins) are the traditional accompaniment.

Recipe adapted from Terrines, Pâtés & Galantines, Time-Life, p. 89.

*Mixed Spices, enough to make two patés of country terrine, can be purchased from Old Bedford Mercers. Blend is from a recipe found in
Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789 .

Next time: boudin blanc.
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