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Archive for the ‘French supermarkets’ Category

I may have mentioned here that I love duck. French duck. All parts of the duck, except maybe the beak and feet. To my utter horror, I recently found that I have been particularly enjoying duck gizzards, or gésiers de canard. Mon Dieu. Gizzards? Really? Luckily for me, instead of rushing to the nearest loo to um, well, say goodbye to those less attractive bits of the bird, I latched onto the affirmative, choosing instead to take this opportunity to add them to our store cupboard. They’re simply too tasty not to, as long as you don’t think about what they are in terms of ducky parts.

Picture this: Monsieur and I are in a French supermarket, our grown-up equivalent of Hamley’s for kids. He finds his favourite French treats and I find mine. On the way to the check-out, I remember what I forgot:

“Quick, we have to find gésiers de canard,” I tell Monsieur,

“What?” he looks at me like I’ve gone mad. After all, I’ve never bought them before, or cooked them.

Gésiers de canard!” I tell him again. “We have to find some. They cost the earth in London and we can make great salads with them.”

Monsieur’s now convinced because anything that tastes good in a salad is a tick on his menu. He quickly steers me to the right aisle.

At home, we decide to try out my as yet untested salade de gésiers. I take a tin from the cupboard and read the back, checking with Monsieur that I didn’t misunderstand anything.

Les Romains, deux siècles avant Jésus-Christ, ont commencé à conserver dans des jarres leurs viandes de canard recouvertes de graisse chaude. Depuis, ce mode de conservation s’est perpétué. Cuisinés selon une recette traditionelle, ces gésiers de canard sont préalablement salés, puis cuits lentement dans la graisse pour développer leur onctuosité et leur goût.”

And in the language of the Anglo-chick:

“The Romans, two centuries before Christ, began preserving their duck meats, covered with hot fat, in earthenware jars.”

(Sounds calorific so far. Ho hum.)

“…This preserving method has been in use ever since. Cooked according to a traditional recipe, these duck gizzards are first salted, then cooked slowly in fat in order to develop their smoothness and their taste.”

Interesting blurb but there’s that word again: gizzards. Ick.

I opened the can, confronted by an opaque fatty gloop containing brown bits and pieces. It looked horrifyingly like pet food, but smelled fantastic. Following the instructions, I put the whole lot into a frying pan over a low heat. The gloop melted immediately, leaving the ducky bits to swim in spitting, hot, clear fat. I poured this off, but continued to heat the gésiers for several more minutes. Then I tried one ducky piece in the interests of not feeding dog food to Monsieur. It was delicious, melting in the mouth. Ah, sweet culinary success. We’re onto a winner.

The only downside was a couple of crunchy bits grinding against my teeth. Ah. That would be the by-product of gésiers, then. The fact that a gizzard is

A modified muscular pouch behind the stomach in the alimentary canal of birds, having a thick lining and often containing ingested grit that aids in the breakdown of seeds before digestion.

Mmmm. Nice. The word and the ingested grit still won’t put me off, after all, it was only a couple of pieces.

To prepare the gésiers (much better word than ‘gizzard’), see above. Toss the warm gésiers over salad leaves, asparagus, chopped spring onions and ripe avocado pieces. Ideal for lunch or a light dinner.

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One of the special somethings that Monsieur brings back from trips to France is a pack of galettes. These buck-wheat pancakes are popular in Britanny, and brown, compared to the white of the regular flour crêpe.

If you’d like to make the galettes yourself, you could follow this recipe:

To make about 10 galettes:

Ingredients:

330g buckwheat flour
10g coarse sea salt
75cl cold water
1 egg
Put the flour and the salt in a large bowl and mix together. Add the water slowly, mixing constantly until the mixture becomes a batter with an even consistency.
Next, add the egg and stir through. Then cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Ladle the mixture into a frying pan or crepe pan making sure it spreads evenly by using a spatula. When the surface is solid, brush lightly with clarified butter and arrange filling on the galette.

When making a stack of galettes for filling later, you might like to only cook them on one side, cooking the other side only when you have the filling prepared and are ready to eat. You may also like to have the oven on to keep them warm if you are cooking for a crowd and would like everyone to eat at the same time.

Chez nous, Monsieur and I find it much easier to buy ready-made packs of galettes to go. That way, we can concentrate on making their fillings.

Using the ready-made galettes, we heat a little butter in a frying pan and pop in one galette. When it has warmed through, we flip it over and layer the fillings on one half of the pancake. Once the cheese has melted/ egg has cooked etc, we fold the galette in two, creating a wonderful half-moon of yumciousness.

For a different style of presentation, place the filling evenly across the middle of the galette. When it has cooked, fold in the edges of the pancake so that the perimeter is in a square shape, but leaving a gap in the middle so you can see the filling. This is particularly effective when you break an egg in the centre of the galette, before folding in the edges, so that in final presentation, the yolk is visible.

Here’s a picture of our prosciutto + mozzarella galette, heating up.

Some of the savoury varieties we’ve made so far include:

  1. Ham and egg, sometimes adding a little cheese. This combination is known as a ‘complet’
  2. Smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche, chopped chives and a squeeze of lemon
  3. Prosciutto and grated mozzarella

On the yet to try list would be:

  1. diced tomato, feta cheese and chopped olives
  2. Mushroom stroganoff
  3. Fresh seafood with a bechamel sauce
  4. Shrimps (cooked) with cream and parmesan, and a sprinkling of paprika
  5. Spinach with goat’s cheese
  6. Cheese, lardons, leftover potato diced, crème fraiche, chopped salad onions and parsley. This combo is supposed to be Da Daddy of Galettes, according to one of my friends. I look forward to trying it out!

Comfort food fillings include:

  1. Grated cheddar and a sprinkling of diced onions
  2. Just plain cheese. Use whichever cheese you prefer
  3. Thin slices of saucissons secs with cheese
  4. I’ve also heard that a spread of salted butter and a drizzle of honey is also divine in a warm galette

Traditionally speaking, a galette should be savoury and a crêpe reserved for sweet fillings, but I have seen both varieties used both ways and the rule seems to have lost a lot of its rigidity. For the complete Breton atmosphere, you should serve this with Cidre Brut, a Breton cider, and perhaps a green salad garnish.

At our place, we have galettes as part of a weekend brunch ritual so eat them alongside juice and coffee from our paranormal machine . We’ve even thrown them together at midnight as a soak-me-up after a few evening drinks. Whichever way, they’re tasty and light and hold no end of potential filling combinations.

If you read this and know of any good galette combos that I haven’t mentioned, please let me know!

For a sweet galette version, see Razzbuffnik’s Pre-Bastille Day Dinner post.

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