20 April, 2009

The Paris Beat: Le Boudin Noir

Boudin blanc et noir

The Paris Beat is covered by our foreign correspondent Jeanlouise: Jolie

[Dear Macmac]

Here’s an oldie but goodie for the nose to tail crowd: Blood sausage, or as my French friends say, le boudin noir. Blood is pretty high up there on the squeamish scale, but with rich flavors and no funky textures, the adventurous will be rewarded for diving in mouth first. I bought my first blood sausage in March when hosting some traveling eaters from Ann Arbor. When we approached the counter, I only knew we wanted boudin noir. A piece was cut off and wrapped in paper. I asked for guidance on preparation: It was already cooked so it could be eaten cold or even better if you have the time, fry the sausage gently in butter and serve up with some cooked apples. After picking up some apples from the fruit vendor next door, we excitedly headed home and got the frying pan going. I was a bit nervous about trying the sausage. I mean, blood man, gross right? Wrong. After chomping up that sausage, I sat back reassured, satisfied and curious- what was that thing and why was it so tasty?

Finished ham

Answers came last week when master artisanal charcutier Dominique Bignon came to school for a demonstration. Monsieur Bignon has won many awards for his work including the gold medal for boudin noir in 2006 (another reason to love France: it is a country that rewards good work). He runs a shop called Au Cochon Rose (The Pink Pig) in the XVeme. He has about 10 full time workers in an on-site ‘laboratory’ where they make blood sausage every Tuesday and Friday, among many other things (terrines, pates, head cheeses, hams, rilletes, etc).

Monsieur Bignon’s smiley demeanor won me over immediately- here was a man who loved the pig. He set to work demonstrating how to make boudin noir. The ingredients are simple: equal part of onions, jowl and blood, some cream, parsley and seasonings. The onions are chopped and cooked into a confit (softened and sweet). Then the jowl is added and cooked very gently-- or lovingly according to M. Bignon! for about 10-15 minutes, at which time the parsley is added.

Onions and blood

Then, then magic happens . . . .off heat, the blood is poured into the onions. Spices (salt, pepper, nutmeg and the royal boudin spice mix) are stirred in followed by the cream, which acts as a biding agent.

Jolie tastes blood

At this point, he asked if anyone wanted to try the ‘raw’ blood mixture. My hand shot up. Jokes about me being a pastry student were made. The stuffing was delicious and ready to be funneled into casings. Purists will stop here. But if you wish, you could at this point add to the stuffing cooked apples, chopped chestnuts, fatback, cabbage or what ever else you dream up. . .

Pouring boudin in to casings

Our master charcuiter used a large metal funnel to stuff the casings. He did not knot the end to avoid air pockets, and tied off both ends once the casing was filled.

Tieing off boudin
The tying he said, was the trickiest part. Anyone who has made sausage will agree. You walk the fine line between a nice plump link, and the alternative, a burst casing and blood all over your kitchen (Brown dogs will however, lap up your misfortune).

Boudin Noir poaching

To finish off, the sausage is poached (80 c) for 15-20 min (or until it does not geyser out when pricked). The poaching water should be green, as this is an indicator of fresh blood with the principle being that the greener the water, the fresher the blood.

The freshly poached boudin was delicious, homey and incredibly rich. There were also other preparations from the Cochon Rose for us to try (a variety of head cheeses, ham, duck liver pate). The one dish that really blew me away was a variation on the boudin noir: a boudin noir terrine.

Terinne de boudin noir

The terrine is made from packing the base boudin noir stuffing into a greased loaf pan. In order to have a firm, sliceable loaf an additional gelling agent is required. Pig snout is the part of the animal that contains the most gelatin (feet are second). To prepare his terrines, M. Bignon will pre-cook fresh (not brined) snouts, chop them very fine and add them to base. A terrine will need to cook longer—about 1 hour in a water bath in a gentle oven. The internal temperature should reach 72 c, 65c being the magic temperature at which proteins bind properly for a nice solid terrine. The terrine that I tasted also contained pig tongue and cooked apples. Again, I was nervous. . . I mean tongue, gross right? Wrong again, so very wrong.

Window licking at Cochon Rose

Très Bien!

Au Cochon Rose
75015 PARIS
01 45 78 03 68

ET DE 15H30 A 19H30

SAMEDI 8H30 A 19H30


15 April, 2009

Springtime In Columbus

Collecting Eggs

We went to Columbus for Easter, and we had a great time. Spring in Columbus always seems about three weeks ahead of cold dreary Chicago, and this past weekend we had nice weather to get out and hit some of our favorite spots.

Bonne Femme at Yankee Trader

On Friday we went to Yankee Trader to load up on trinkets for the Easter egg hunt. Plastic bugs, stickers, butterfly erasers, fuzzy gnomes, you just get a paper bag and write down what yer putting in the sack. I hadn't been there in a long time, it seemed a lot less cluttered but still fun. Just don't play with the whistles.

At Yankee Trader...

Pistacia Vera - canelé, lavender macaroon, ginger sable

Then Ma took us to Pistacia Vera for cookies.

Ma at Pistacia

kickin back with a cuppa at Pistacia

Once back in Clintonville I made a trip to Wasserstrom where found a wok brush and I also stopped at Giant Eagle for a 25Lb bag of Sapphire flour.

Cheers with blue cheese chips

For Dinner we had turkey sandwiches and blue cheese potato chips. The turkey was left over from the Seder dinner my mom had at church.

On Saturday I made my pantry run to Penzeys then ma took me to The Fresh Market and Marcs. She calls them the yin and yang of grocery shopping in one stop.

The Lion's Share

In the Afternoon we hunted for eggs and had cake.

Working together

Easter Egg Hunt - The Haul

Bunny cake

The Blue Cheese Burger, grilled

For dinner Bonne Femme made Blue cheese burgers. She said she gets them like this at Hackney's and they're called the Inside Out Burger.

Bonne Femme making Blue Cheese burger

Could it be a Jucy Lucy?

Pork shoulder bacon

I fried up some shoulder bacon to top it off. After dinner I took Bonne Femme to Studio 35. She thought it was pretty cool.

Easter table

Sunday started with a trip to church. I'm not much of a church-going person but I liked walking to Church. Crestview Presbyterian is where my parents got married, I got baptized, and I attended many a mother-son banquets. It was a nice day for a walk. The boys got to ring the tower bell.

Salmon benedict with sorrel sauce

For brunch we had a salmon bendict with a sorrel sauce. Sorrel is the first green up in my mom's garden, we got the recipe from the Herbfarm Cookbook. My mom cured the salmon and got the eggs from the coop.

GMA's house

After brunch we walked to grandma's house. We hunted for Easter baskets.

In the den at GMA's

Then for dinner I prepared a leg of lamb on the kettle.

MAC n lamb

Leg of lamb on the grill

Spnach salad with stawberries and blue cheese

Lamb and polenta

It turned out pretty good. Family and place are made special by what we make of them. Take care to make it good and the memories will flow.