The Foods Of France From The Comforts Of Home
French cuisine is world renowned for its delicacy. Visit a French restaurant and you’re liable to enjoy a meal you might never experience anywhere else; until now. For household cooks who want to bring a taste of France into their own kitchens, consider the following recipe for “La Garbure Bearnaise (Vegetable and Meat Stew)” from Sarah Woodward’s “The Food of France” (Kyle Books).
La Garbure Bearnaise Vegetable and Meat Stew Serves 6 to 8
2 pound piece of gammon or country ham or other cured pork
1/2 pound dried white haricot beans
3 turnips, around 1 pound in total
2 large potatoes, generous 1 pound
3 large carrots, around 1 pound in
1 large Bermuda onion
Bouquet garni of parsley stalks,
fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves, tied together 2 large leeks, green parts removed
1 small or 1/2 large green cabbage,
around 2 pounds
2 thighs of confit de canard
1 teaspoon sweet red pepper
A pinch of red chili
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and
Freshly ground black pepper
1-day-old French bread
Soak both the ham and beans overnight in plenty of water, in separate pots. The next day, discard the soaking water and place both in a large, heavy pot, big enough to take all the ingredients. Add 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and remove any scum.
Peel the turnips, carrots and potatoes and cut into generously sized bites — you don’t want the vegetables too small or they will fall apart during cooking. Add them to the pan, together with the whole peeled onion studded with the cloves, and the bouquet garni. Roughly slice the white part of the leeks and also add. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or so (the garbure is not a dish for precise timing). Meanwhile remove the tough outer leaves and the ribs of the cabbage and slice the rest of it into fairly thin shreds. Add these to the cooking pot. Simmer gently for another hour, then add the preserved duck, together with 1 tablespoon or so of its fat, the sweet red pepper, the chili, the garlic, and plenty of pepper. (At this stage you might also like to check whether salt is needed.) Simmer, covered, for a further 40 minutes or so.
Ideally, leave to cool overnight. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400 F. Slowly reheat the garbure on the stove. Thinly slice some stale baguette and layer an earthenware dish with it. Spoon in sufficient broth to cover the bread and cook in the oven until the bread has absorbed the liquid and is lightly browned (around 20 minutes). Slice the meats, which should be falling apart, and place on a warmed serving dish. Serve the meats, broth, vegetables, and stock-soaked bread in separate dishes, with mustard on the side.