2015 Programs at Camont

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Along with my new teaching kitchen, new version of this website is nearly finished, but I couldn’t wait any longer! Here are the dates for all programs- from an Introductory Kitchen Charcuterie to our 4 week long French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie for those wishing to start a business, discover whole hog farmstead charcuterie, or just understand the Old World traditions of seam butchery for charcuterie. There are also lots of Cooking-at-Camont days for those longing to learn how to make a true Cassoulet, master the easy all butter French pastry for tartes and tourtes, or just enjoy the gracious art de vivre at Camont’s terrace table. And to tempt the adventurous traveler, I am planning a couple Roadtrips as well: Mexico in March and Basquelandia in the April.

2015 Programs

  • February 16- 4 week French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie
  • March in Mexico- I’m hatching a plan- ask me!
  • April 8, 29- Cooking at Camont-The Spring Sessions!
  • April 12- One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • April 19- Basquelandia Roadtrip
  • May 11- Savory Spoon Special Week in Gascony
  • May 24- One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • June 3, 17- Cooking at Camont- Summer Sessions
  • June 21-  One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • July 1, 15 – Cooking at Camont- Summer Sessions
  • Aug 5- Cooking at Camont- Summer Sessions
  • Sept 7- 4 week French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie
  • Oct 5- One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • Oct 11-24 US Workshops
  • Nov 2- 4 week French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie

Need to know more? Just write me a note or leave a comment here. Now, about that new website…  Stay tuned!

 

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Saucisse de Couenne- pork rind sausage

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“Everything but the oink.” Nothing goes to waste on a pig. Of all the nose-to-tail recipes I love, from Fergus Henderson’s slow-braised pork belly to Michel Dussau’s Brioche de Boudin Noir et Pomme, I love the fat and simple pork rind sausages that stud my cassoulets and deliver an extra flavor and texture bomb to braised cabbage, sage-infused beans and my own poule-au-pot.

The Recipe for Saucisse de Couenne

Ingredients: for every kilo of mixture use 1/3 rind to 2/3 meat

330 g fresh pork rind (cooked and chilled*)

     *To prepare the rind, cut into long strips about 5 cm wide, scrape off all the fat, roll loosely, tie with a string. Cook in clear water for 2-3 hours. Remove from liquid and let cool. (I threw in 500 grs. or a pound of dried beans with these and let them cook a the same time.)

660gr freshly minced pork (lean meat and belly)

17 gr salt 

6 gr freshly ground black pepper (this is a flavorful peppery amount- reduce to 4 gr if you are scared of pepper)

seasoning:

  • one large bunch parsley
  • chopped chives and green onions

or

  • small glass of white wine
  • generous pinch quatre épice

Grind the cooled, cooked rind and meat on a small hole (6mm) plate.

Add salt and pepper.

Add seasoning.

Mix well and stuff in thick casings (saucisson- 50mm); tie well on both ends. Let set overnight (24-2=48 hours)

Poach in water 15 minutes or confit in fat over a low flame- for 30 minutes.

Serve with lentilles du puy, beans or greens.

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RAINY MARKET NERAC

Rainy Market at Nerac

RAINY MARKET NERACBuy that brightly colored umbrella, please, so that I might share in the dancing parade of rainy day markets. Stop and gossip under the drips that water the fields and orchards along the hillsides of Nerac. Roll those carts over my toes and let me celebrate your heavy bounty of good local food.

 

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J’adore la poule au pot authentique et naturelle, telle que le bon sens gascon l’a créée. La poule au pot n’est pas sophistiquée, elle est unique.

Maire-Claude Soubiron Gracia Rey

Sunday Chickens & Eggs: One Chicken-Two Pots

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Sunday Chickens and Egg- destined for the pot, scrambled, scratching or just clucking around the yard. I admit to being a sloppy chicken wrangler, preferring to watch and guide rather than corral and manage. That means missed eggs, accidental broods, wild child chickens. The mid-morning scramble that results as I tote the kitchen scraps and corn, barley, wheat and other seeds to the yard is a 15 minute meditation. Chicken Meditation.

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Surprisingly, I’ve been collecting a couple dozen eggs every week all winter. It is mild enough in Southwest France and the Muscovy ducks are also now laying full force. So the daily menus change– golden, custardy, scrambled and poached. I’ll bake a cake today. I’ll braise a chicken and some vegetables. I’ll make some crepe batter for afternoon snacks.

 

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This chicken bounty is a wonder to a cook. When all else fails, I conjure a meal from two eggs and some garlic. Or take an old hen and cook Gascony’s signature dish- Poule au Pot.

 

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Some early Spring days when the wheelbarrow fills with eggs, I look South to my Catalan friends. Perfect eggs for a perfect Tortilla or Omelette Catalan.

 

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And though I am not a bird fancier, don’t name my girls, or  even like the prehistoric beak and claw, sweet omelettes have a special place in my heart- souffléd golden eggs for a light dessert. And at this time of Carnival, we whisk thick raw milk with golden eggs, sugar and flour to make classic crêpes. 

 

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It’s too early for asparagus here in Gascony. But I can’t resist the breakfast classic ham and eggs part of this recipe. I’ll substitute some broccoli or other greens (I’m sure there is something to forage out there!) to celebrate the famous chicken & pig combo.

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What great return on a little investment of time, space and food. I’ve been keeping chickens for 6 years now; my compost piles are growing richer as my pantry grows fatter. Merci mes petites poulettes de Camont! 

For more: #chickensofinstagram  and follow along with making this One Chicken/Two Pots menu.IMG_8527

One Chicken/Two Pots

Pot #1: in one braising pot put butter, lard, legs, wings and breasts of chicken. Brown and add carrots, onion salt, pepper and two whole lemons (squeeze the juice over the meat); add a large glass of water. Next, layer thickly cut potatoes, salt, pepper, bay over the chicken. Cover and cook for about an hour. Eat with friends.

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Pot #2: in a soup pot, place the backs, neck, feet and head (it’s France) cover with 2 liters of water. Bring to a boil, skim and then add carrots, onions, bay, thyme, and salt. Let cook long and slow. after eating lunch from pot #1, add all the leftovers to pot #2.  Then eat for supper with a crusty loaf of bread.

 

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Like many other Frenchman I have retained all my life the food I ate as a child…

Pierre Koffmann, Memories of Gascony

Canning Confit de Canard

IMG_8432 Cooking confit de canard is one thing; putting it up in jars to save for later in the year is another. Here are some pictures of the traditional process as practiced in thousands of home kitchens across the France.  Once the confit is cooked to a tender stage–notice the skin and meat have pulled off the leg bone– the pieces of duck meat are placed carefully in clean jars, covered with the cooking fat, and sealed with a new capsule and lid. The jars are placed in a large zinc bouilloire, covered with water and brought to a boil. The jars are boiled for about 2 hours and then let cool in the water. The outer lid is removed (otherwise it will rust to the capsule!-#voiceofexperience) and the jars are wiped dry, fixed with a label and placed in the pantry.  We’ll be eating this confit with frites, served on a big summer salad with peaches or smothered under a layer of mashed potatoes for a ‘Gaveuse Pie’ or Confit Parmentier.  A staple of the Gascon pantry, confit de canard is worth all the work! IMG_8413

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So what does one do during the rest of the afternoon while the boiler is burbling and the steam warms the kitchen? A slice of home-cured ham and a glass of rosé shared with friends makes the time pass gently in my new Keeping Kitchen–at Camont.

 

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How to make Duck Confit: Live from the Keeping Kitchen.

2013-05-04 16.20.33Confit Days are some of my favorites Winter days; pots and kettles, jars and terrines start to align like so many stars in a Winter constellation- the Fat Duck. This weekend is the first weekend in the Keeping Kitchen at Camont in 2015. We’re starting off with the basics: how to buy a duck and how to breakdown and butcher it into perfect confit-sized morsels– all of it!– not just the legs, friends. It’s the most often asked question (next to “how much salt?”)- can you confit more than just the legs? IMG_8190Winter cooking in France is about fattening the larder, pantry or  whatever else you call your stash of gastronomic fast foods. It’s the time to replenish the jars of duck rillettes, pork paté, and confit de canard. There’ll be little jars of gesiers or gizzards for summer salads, hearts stuffed with foie gras for aperitifs, and pots of grattons or duck cracklin’s spiced with my secret Gascon blend!  It’s also the prefect time to salt cure and dry some magrets de canard–those big meaty duck breasts– and hang in my new charcuterie closet under the kitchen stairs. The stone walls, now well insulated, a ventilation hole to the north side of the barn, and a two way fan, I can adjust the natural flow of cold air into the 8 cubic meter space- now holding at 16’C. Last year’s birthday ham has been ripening here and we’ll be tasting it along with some fresh duck products for lunch during the workshop.

IMG_7610If you have an desire to taste the flavor of Gascony and discover the perfume of the Southwest of France, then follow along this weekend as we transform the Gascon staple of the meaty fat duck into a panoply of easily made kitchen charcuterie. I’ll show you  how on Instagram, facebook, and twitter all day Saturday & Sunday. Follow along!

 

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Learning at Camont 2015

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I have to admit I am as drawn to the new as much as the old; the latest smart TV has been a pleasant diversion these last few winter nights; my iPhone is a constant companion; I am looking forward to the learning to make ebooks and other self-publishing adventures. But the Old Ways still hold me in thrall.

I was delighted to find a reference to an old way of curing duck legs- true Jambon de Canard- in a cherished old French book by Marie-Claude Gracia-La Belle Gasconne. Dried, salt-cured Magret de Canard or duck breasts from fatted ducks has been popular with the charcuterie set for some time. I consider it the entry level red meat to learn about what salt, time, humidity and temperature does to meat. A quick overnight cure and 10-14 days drying is enough to convince even the most nervous Nelly that curing meat at home is not only doable, but delicious. It what we start with on the first week of our butchery & charcuterie programs here at Camont.

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This long lost mention of Jambon or Ham from duck legs had me at the mention of “age-ing in ashes”. So I took the idea to task and started my 2015 charcuterie year with something new, something old. After boning out the thigh bone on these home-grown Muscovy duck legs (leaving the leg bon in the drumstick), I rubbed them generously in course salt and left them a couple days in the refrigerator to cure. The next day, I dried them off and rolled the boneless thigh into a tight roll and tied a handsome roll of knots all the way up to the end of the leg. A dusting of freshly ground pepper before wrapping in one layer of cheesecloth was all the spices this would need. The three legs went into a wooden wine box lined in brown paper and a thick layer of cold wood ashes from my beloved Jotul stove. I covered the legs with more ash and another loose layer of paper marked with the date.

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This week when called upon by a dear client to come and cook a festive frosty Sunday Lunch at a friend’s house near Bordeaux, I tossed on of the legs into my charcuterie basket. The thin slices of dried duck were salty, peppery and just right to accompany a lovely rose champagne as an aperitif. At Camont I would have served a sweeter offering like Floc de Gascogne or a fruity Cote de Gascogne.

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The rest of that meal was an homage to more Old Ways-

  • Cooking a perfect Magret-rare and juicy-and serving it with Vetou’s Triple Wine Sauce (red wine, red wine vinegar, and wine jelly). Vétou is working with me again and I love it!
  • A golden lobe of fresh foie gras was pan seared and served with a quickly made prune-infused vinegar glaze.
  • A winter tarte of apples and candied chestnuts with a GF cornmeal and chestnut flour butter pastry was served with a sip of afternoon armganac.

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Learning at Camont is what we call our new program of day classes, month long courses, and weekend workshops in 2015. And just to add something else new to the beginning of this year, I will be offering an 2-day Kitchen Charcuterie workshop in Duck- confit, rillettes, and salt curing and a little foe gras on the side. Here is what we will be doing on Jan 24 & 25:

Kitchen Charcuterie: The Fat Duck- Cooking Traditions in the Southwest of France

 Two nights & Two days in Gascony making confit, rillette & paté.

Jan 24- Saturday Arrive by train at the Gare d’Agen mid-morning and we go straight to Camont new Keeping Kitchen. Today we’ll breakdown and butchery whole foie gras ducks, salt them overnight for making confit tomorrow. In the afternoon, we’ll make rillettes, paté, and prepare the foie gras au torchon et en terrine.  Lunch before the cozy fire in Camont’s traditional kitchen.

Jan 25- After a quick visit to Agen’s weekly market, we’ll return to Camont and start the traditional confit cooking, in a copper kettle and outside, while we process the rillettes and paté in glass jars for you to take home. After a lovely Sunday lunch we’ll ‘can’ the confit for you to take home in jars, processed and shelf stable. Return by early evening train from Agen.

Each two-day workshop is 475€ and includes lunches; each participant will have an whole duck (6-7 kg) including foie gras to work with and take home. You can choose to add additional ducks for an additional materials costs (approx 50€ each including jars).  Each duck produces 4 jars of confit, 2 jars of rillettes, and 2 jars of paté. we’ll also pack up and ship them to you if desired.

To book or for more information fill in this little form!

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