Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

France

Basking Basquaise

Reflections and a Recipe: Feisty Chicken Drumstick Piperade

Some years ago, I was blessed enough not only to own a small home in a tiny village in southwestern France, I was doubly blessed to have the opportunity to visit for several months of those seven lucky years. Tucked away in the foothills of The Pyrenees and steeped in the tragic history of Le Pays Cathare, it was a tiny, pie-shaped home at the base of a crumbling old chateau in a pocket of a village called Chalabre. My French friends called it le maison du poupee, or a doll’s house. Sometimes I felt like a little doll working in it, especially working in my sliver of a kitchen with a view of rolling green hills, grazing cattle, and a tiny 16th-century church, tolling its soothing, soulful bells every hour into every day I spent there.

As much as I loved it, I would occasionally stray south of the border to neighboring Spain to buy red clay pottery, which brought me through and around Basque country. The language and dialect are unique and were foreign to my French-trained ears. Even though I couldn’t understand the language, I recognized and understood the faces of the villagers in the villages I passed through.  Rows of stooped, elderly men lining short benches at the edges of cafes, sun-leathered faces and age-withered lips barely clinging to their omnipresent Gauloises cigarettes, and little old ladies clinging to well-used thatched baskets, hobbling through winding, ancient streets in floral, wrapped aprons on the way to the daily marche,  all spoke to the time-worn traditions of the place.

Among other things, Basque country is home to the French Basque “piperade” (pronounced pip-errr-ahd), which derives its name from the French Gascon word for pepper, or “piper.” Traditionally, it is comprised primarily of peppers, onions and tomatoes, to mimic the red, green and white colors of the Basque flag. Because peppers have been haunting me for the past two months, both at supermarkets and farmer stands, I’ve been cooking quite a bit with them. Their diversity is growing, both in color and heat, and I enjoyed combining a bit of sweet and heat in this recipe, which is just hot enough to make you pucker, and sweet enough (with a dash of honey) to make you smile. I skipped tomatoes in this version, since I didn’t have any at home. Feel free to add one or two, coarsely chopped, after adding the chicken stock. It’s finished with a spray of fresh basil and parsley, and is as lovely served hot, as it is room temp or even cool for a picnic. Serve as is, or over rice, polenta, grits or creamy mashed potatoes.

Recipe

Feisty Chicken Drumstick Piperade – the perfect summer dish.

 

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 large chicken drumsticks (about 1 1/2 pounds)

kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

1 3/4 cups mixed color sweet, baby bell peppers (about 8 total), halved, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 large banana pepper, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 large jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced

kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 large cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and very finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons

2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon local or wild honey

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon each, finely chopped fresh basil and parsley

 

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Pat dry the chicken drumsticks (or substitute same size pieces of other cuts of the chicken). Heat the 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 5 1/2 quart Dutch Oven (or another sturdy, oven-proof pot) over medium high. Season the chicken generously on one side with the salt and pepper and 1/2 of the oregano. When sizzling, add the chicken, seasoned side down in a single layer, in the butter and oil. Brown until golden, about four minutes. Turn the chicken, and season the uncooked side with salt and pepper and remaining oregano. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Drain off the cooking fat. Add a fresh tablespoon of olive oil, heat over medium low. Add the onion, season lightly with salt and pepper, stir and cook until just softened, about two minutes. Add the sweet peppers, banana pepper and jalapeno, season lightly with salt and pepper, stir, and continue cooking over medium low until softened, about three minutes. Add the garlic, lime juice, orange juice and crushed red pepper flakes. Increase the heat to medium high and reduce liquids by half. Add the honey,  chicken stock and return the browned chicken to the pan, in a single layer. Bring up to a boil, cover, and place the pot in the preheated oven on the middle rack. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken once. Remove the lid and return to the oven, baking another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and beginning to pull from the bone. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the chicken from the pot, reserving warm. Return the pot to the stove, and reduce the liquid by half, simmering over medium high for 6 to 8 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. At the last minute, add the fresh basil and parsley. Return the chicken to the pot and heat through. Serve immediately or cool, refrigerate overnight, and serve the next day hot, room temperature or chilled.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

The Thick of Warming Soup Season

The brutal winter weather of the past few weeks has left me with a near constant craving for soups and also long-braised stews. Combine this with the near constant recipe testing for my next cookbook, The French Cook: Soups and Stews (Gibbs Smith,Late summer, 2014) my beloved Dutch ovens are getting daily work-outs and I’m a very well-fed girl. The soup that follows is layered with the earthy, peppery flavors and chewy density of the Puy lentil. I love these guys so much, I once suffered an hour delay in customs trying to convince the agent they were legal. This soup is remarkably delicious, easy to make and a little dressier than most lentil soups. I think you’ll love it. It’s adapted from the yet to be published pages of the new cookbook.

French Green Lentil Soup with Bacon and Creme Fraiche

French Green Lentil Soup with Bacon and Creme Fraiche

French Green Lentil Soup with Bacon

(Makes 8 servings)

Deep in the volcanic rich-soil of Auvergne in South Central France reside the nutrients that help create the special flavor and color of the Puy lentil. It is an extra firm, dark green lentil with sage-hued threads and a peppery flavor. Unlike other lentils, it holds its shape and its firm, toothsome texture even when cooked, rather than breaking down into mushy legume puddles. Referred to as French Green Lentils in the United States, they are increasingly easy to find here at regular grocery stores and markets. They are worth tracking down, as their body and flavor are what make this simple, yet delicious soup so outstanding. Be sure to rinse the lentils and pick over for any small stones. It’s ok to salt them very lightly in the beginning of the cooking process, but save the bulk of the salt until finishing the seasoning after they’re cooked. Salt can harden the lentils. This soup can be left in its whole lentil state, but I like to lighten it and puree it with an immersion blender. A dash of cloves and dried sage give it an extra earthy, hard to resist flavor that works magic with the peppery nature of the lentils. Not only do these lentils make delicious soups, they are outstanding cooked in salads or as a seasoned garnish to fish, particularly salmon.

Recipe:

1 1/2 cups (about 8 slices) bacon cut into a 1/2” dice

Freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 leeks, trimmed to 1” above the white part of the stalk, halved vertically, finely chopped, and well-rinsed

2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped

Light salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup good quality full-bodied red wine (suggest Cabernet Sauvignon)

1 1/2 cups French Green Lentils

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup water

2 bay leaves

Generous pinch ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the garnish:

1/2 reserved cooked bacon

1/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

3 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven or similarly sized soup pot over medium high. Add the diced bacon and black pepper. Cook to render fat and brown the bacon, stirring every minute or so. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking the bacon until it’s cooked through and nicely browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Drain off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the cooking pot. Add the onion, leeks, celery, carrot, and garlic. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with the red wine, stirring to pick up any brown bits from the bacon. Increase heat to high and reduce the wine by about half. Add the lentils, vegetable stock, water, bay leaves, ground cloves and ground sage. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring up to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer over medium low heat. Cook uncovered until the lentils have softened to a gentle chew state (al dente), 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender until aerated and chunky-smooth. Return to the pot and bring to a low simmer. If it seems too thick, add enough water to adjust more to your taste, about 1/2 – 1 cup of water should do it. Stir in 1/2 of the reserved bacon. Taste carefully and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls, garnishing each with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche and a drizzle of bacon and fresh parsley. (Note: The soup can be made ahead and refrigerated for 1 or 2 days or frozen up to 2 months and reheated before serving).

Bon appetit!

Share

Talking French Sauces with Your Day

 

The wonderful radio host and personality, Donna London, recently spoke with me about my most recent book release, The French Cook: Sauces .

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick

 

 

We cover a lot of ground on myriad cooking topics and trends in the 15-minute segment. Please click on the link below to hear the podcast of the show which aired earlier this week. Thank you again Donna and the team at Your Day.

 

 

 

Bon Appetit!

 

 

Share

A Conversation with Pierre Wolfe about The French Cook: Sauces

I was delighted to join culinary radio veteran and utter gentleman Pierre Wolfe a few weeks ago to talk about France, cooking, Julia Child and The French Cook: Sauces

He loves France as much as I do! You can listen to it at the following link to the podcast. Our interview starts 30 minutes from the beginning.

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bon Appetit!

Share

Cottage at The Crossroads Reviews The French Cook: Sauces

Special thanks to Jane Windham at cottageatthecrossroads.com for her cookbook review blog of The French Cook: Sauces. She tested and was especially happy with the roasted asparagus with an orange and prosciutto bechamel sauce.

Anchovy and Parsley Mayonnaise with Salmon from The French Cook: Sauces. Photo by Steven Rothfeld

Anchovy and Parsley Mayonnaise with Salmon from The French Cook: Sauces. Photo by Steven Rothfeld

Here’s some of what she had to say:

“Not only were there gorgeous food photographs that made me practically drool, there were French street scenes and action shots of French chefs that made me feel that I was right in Paris.

Ok, I’ll admit it. French cooking has always intimidated me just a bit. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make make my own Hollandaise, Bearnaise, and Puttanesca sauces but felt a little inadequate.  Holly demystifies the techniques in making these as well as creating your own stocks. And there is even a chapter devoted to whipping up your own mayonnaise. Didn’t think mayonnaise was French, did ya?  Well, it is the base for aioli, remoulade, and tartar sauces.

The French Cook: Sauces not only gives you the step-by-step instructions and tips for making all these sauces, but it also includes several recipes that use the sauces.”

To see Jane’s complete review or to spend time on her and husband Leo’s fabulous blog, click on this link.

http://cottageatthecrossroads.com/cookbook-review-the-french-cooksauces/

The book is currently available online (see link to follow) and in bookstores near you on March 1.

Bon appetit and happy cooking, too!

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick

 

http://www.amazon.com/French-Cook-Sauces-Holly-Herrick/dp/1423632389/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361469516&sr=8-1&keywords=the+french+cook%3A+sauces

 

 

 

Share
Latest from the Blog
  • A Shrimp & Grits Christmas

    Unwrap a Charleston Food Tradition at Your Christmas Table Shrimp and grits has become the epitome of elegance; the heart of Charleston cuisine in the minds of many. Originally a simple,...

Books
Never Miss a Post!

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post or give-away.