02 July 2015

Zen and the Art of Provencal Cookery, Part 5

This cooking lesson with Chef Gina Trevier proved to be the most surprising of the week. Not only was Caillette the only dish I hadn't previously heard of, but it turned out to be quite a bit different than what I was expecting. Described as a pate, it turned out to be completely unlike the usual idea of what a pate is. For a start, there was no organ meat involved (although apparently Caillette often is made with organs). If I had to describe it as anything, I would say it's closest to a type of sausage. But whatever the proper definition of Caillette, it was delicious.

I thought these were shallots but they're actually a type of local onion.

Swiss chard also went into the caillette but you can use spinach instead. The eggplant was for a different meal.

We used pork for our caillette (a boneless cut with some fat). The membrane is caul fat (also known as lace fat or crepine)--it surrounds the stomach and internal organs of some animals. The caillette filling is wrapped in the caul fat and baked. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), the caul fat was nice and crisp after baking and not at all weird or unpleasant to eat.

The caillette filling was flavoured with fresh sage, which made it reminiscent of Thanksgiving.

Ready for the oven

about 500 g pork--you want something that's boneless but still contains some fat (I think shoulder would probably work well)
1-2 small onions
small bunch of Swiss chard or spinach (or combination)
small bunch fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
approx 200 g caul fat (it's best to have extra and whatever you don't use can be frozen)

I don't remember Gina doing anything special with the caul fat but you might want to give it a quick rinse. It doesn't smell pleasant, but don't worry--the smell goes away and it becomes crispy and pleasant after baking. Set aside.

Chop meat into small pieces. Add a bit of salt and cook in pan with olive oil. Set aside in a bowl. Chop onion finely and cook over low heat until translucent. Add to meat in bowl. If using Swiss chard, chop stems and cook until tender before adding chopped leaves. If using spinach discard large stems and cook chopped leaves until wilted. Add cooked greens to meat mixture. Chop fresh sage and add to meat mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste;  mix well.

The final size of each caillette is about the size of a baseball, so cut pieces of caul fat to fit the amount of filling with a little extra for overlap. Trim and discard very thick pieces of caul fat--you want to use the thin parts of the membrane. Place filling in middle of a piece of caul fat. Wrap to contain filling with edges overlapping. Place seam side down in an oiled baking dish. If desired you can garnish each caillette with  a sprig of sage as shown,

Cook for about 30 minutes at 325F (should be browned and caul fat should be crispy). This amount serves 3 to 4.  Serve with a green salad and good bread.

As a starter we made a simple chilled zucchini and basil soup.

Apples sauteed with butter for Apple-Strawberry Crumble

The Apple-Strawberry Crumble was flavoured with a bit of sugar and fresh lemon verbena

Gina exhibiting supreme patience with me and my camera :)

All the butter in France was excellent, but this handmade butter with its crimped edge was the prettiest.

The Apple-Strawberry Crumbles ready to go into the oven. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture when they were done. The filling ended up being a little watery thanks to the strawberries, but they were delicious nonetheless.

Final Lesson and Farewell Dinner coming soon...

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Photos ©Whimsy Bower

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