Oven-roasted pigeon with broad beans and cherries

I recently found a website through which you can order fresh products from selected small producers. It works like a kind of market, you have a deadline by which you have to place your orders, the products get prepared and packaged and delivered at your doorstep. Even when you order at several producers, it arrives … Read more

Rabbit with garlic and sherry

On Thursday’s there is an organic market in Mirepoix where environment conscious farmers peddle their wares to a small group of equally concerned buyers. I usually like the quality of their goods but am not always ready to pay the price. But when you buy direct from the producer, you end up not spending more than in the supermarket while the seller also makes a decent margin. So, when we happened to be in the town on a Thursday, we ran into a man selling poultry and rabbit. We bought a rabbit and a Guinea fowl, heads on.

We were hosting a dinner party one weekend and I took the rabbit out of the freezer to make a Spanish-style recipe. However, the traditional recipe first deep-fries the rabbit parts in a lot of oil. I braised them in a pan, then put them in the oven.

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Chicken livers and carrot, coriander, cumin – CLCCC with some sesame seeds

One Monday morning on our weekly farmers’ market in Mirepoix, the poultry lady had chicken livers. Not the soggy reddish things in a plastic container at the super market – which are more than decent – but, well, big livers. The point is that most “chicken” killed and sold are in fact still chicklets – … Read more

Festive capon with cider and apples

A capon is a poor animal as it is a castrated rooster that becomes a fatter bird than its reproductive brethren. It is larger than a normal chicken and is often used in France for the end-of-year meals. Stuffed, you can feed eight people with one bird.

Here I am combining a poaching technique with roasting. This helps getting the entire bird cooked, not just the outside, and permeates the bird with the taste of the cooking liquid, in this case the cider.

The stuffing was made of apples with the filling of “boudin blanc” white blood sausages. You can also use minced meat or just apples.

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Duck risotto

The southwest of France is known for duck. duck liver, duck confit, duck breast and duck pate. On the market you can find almost every part of duck to whole ducks without the liver – the prized part – that people are currently buying to prepare their Christmas dinner.

I had some duck carcass left and turned it into a duck stock, with leek, onion, carrot, turnip, start aniseed, nutmeg and pepper. I stored this in empty apple juice bottles.

I had ordered pasta and rice from De Cecco in Italy and used some great Arborio rice and I grated some Parmesan. The combination was delicious.

I served the risotto with a grilled duck breast. Because I had to trim some of the fatty skin, I melted it in a small pan and then filtered it so that I could use the duck fat to prepare the risotto, instead of butter and oil.

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‘Pigeon as a toad’ – spatchcocked pigeon from the grill

One of the joys of living in a small town like Saint-Germain-en-Laye is that the local shop and stall keepers know your reputation for being a cook and being interested in seasonal and good products. I discuss soups with the wife of the butcher or recipes for stuffed chicken breast with the cheese shop owner.

So when I went to the open air town market the other day, the poultry man interrupted serving a client and told me “I have a good offer on pigeons”. The woman he was serving believed he talked to her and uttered some words of incomprehension, but he did get me on the hook as I waited to see what the offer was – two pigeons for 15 euro instead of 19. Well, why not. I had been roasting pigeons and made the classical “pigeon with peas” several times but it is not yet the season for fresh peas. I wanted to use my electric grill and decided to make what is called pigeon à la crapaudine “pigeon as a toad”. – spatchcocked pigeon.

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Stuffed chicken thighs and Japanese pearls

Sometimes I just make up a dish based on the ingredients I happen to have at hand. So it was here when I had planned to make a chicken broth of leftover bones and carcasses I had kept in the freezer. I had bought some chicken thighs to add to the stock but the broth went well enough without the fresh meat.

In the fridge, I had a jar of Sicilian citrus jelly – cédrat – brought by a friend, while in the larder I still had a broken package of “Japanese pearls”, tiny beads of manioc and some Piment d’Espelette – Basque peppers. That brought me to the following very nice and delicate dish.

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Chicken with lemon, onion and marjoram

My wife is growing herbs in a window box and she recently had a relatively large harvest of marjoram. I could have used it on a pizza dish but the dough and cheese would have been rather heavy, especially with the current heat.

I stumbled on this recipe. The combination of lemon and chicken is a pleasant one and I used it in roast chicken. Here, the procedure is slightly different.

The result was very pleasant. We were left with a lot of sauce afterwards that could be used to accompany other dishes.

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Roast chicken with lemon

Sometimes the simplest recipes give extraordinary good results.

Like this variation on the classic roast chicken from the oven.

Lemon gives it a bit of peps, it makes it tangy and fresh, it also helps preventing the chicken meat from getting dry during the cooking.

This you can also prevent through low temperature cooking or by putting the chicken in a plastic bag, but then you do not get the typical scorched and crackly skin of the traditional roast chicken.

Here the coriander and the lemon juice give the chicken an appetising colour.

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Canard à l’Orange (Duck with oranges)

This is one of those French classical recipes that have many variations and of which the roots are not clear. Chef René Lasserre made it famous in his Paris restaurant in 1945, but the dish can have been brought to France by the cooks of Catherine de Medicis , who brought several refinements to the French court of Henry II, not least the usage of forks.

The sweet and sour taste combination, still used in Chinese cooking, was popular in the late Middle Ages as several recipe collection books can attest.

There are apparently also traces of the recipe in Seville, where bitter oranges grew after Arabs took them to there from east Asia.

The French current version uses sweet oranges and sugar as well as vinegar.

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