Monday, January 5, 2009

France - Provencal Lamb Stew, Rosemary Fougasse, and Saffron Garlic Dip

Welcome to 2009! So here I am embarking on my five month journey around the world. Every month I will focus on a different continent, and January is Europe. So France is our first stop, Provence (southeast France), to be more precise. I decided to go with Europe first because it is a relatively cold region, like ours, so it would go well with our cold weather in January. So while there are plenty of summer-weather Mediterranean dishes, I'll be more likely focus on the heavier dishes for the moment. I may revisit some of the lighter fare in May when I'll have miscellaneous month (for what I didn't have time to get to).

Foods from Provence tend to be rich in spices, citrus sun-ripened veggies, and abundant in fish and seafood. French food in general tends to focus on fresh ingredients, rich flavors, and local foods (they once tore apart a McDonald's to protest globalization).

When I spent a semester in Toulouse (southwest France), one of my favorite breads was Fougasse, a southern fisherman's bread. I've taken a chance and added rosemary to it, just to see what it's like (and because I bought waaaay too much rosemary). I also chose this olive oil dip because I had some saffron from my trip to Egypt that I wanted to use. Saffron being as expensive as it is, you could either leave it out or substitute it with another spice you enjoy.

I must say in all honesty that I'm not a big fan of how the lamb stew turned out. It's ok, I'll eat it, but I wouldn't make this particular recipe again. The dip came out absolutely wonderfully, and the bread very tasty as well. If I did make the stew again, I'd reduce the number of carrots, and add potatoes and mushrooms, and possibly some other veggies. Also, the original recipe called for a rose wine, but I used red since that's what I had on hand. Probably affected the flavor.

I know that people used to make bread every day fresh, but for me, I've only ever gotten fresh baked bread at stores, restaurants, bakeries, that kind of thing. So on the rare occasions I actually make it, I can't quite believe that I've really made bread. It's kind of the same feeling I have when I go to a baseball game - I know I'm at the game and I'm seeing the real players, but it takes me several innings to get over the fact of how 3D they are.

Agneau confit au miel et au vin rose (Honey and wine lamb stew)
1 shoulder of lamb about 3lb, boned (I also removed as much fat as I could)
1/4 cup of rosemary honey (I didn't have this, so I used regular honey and added rosemary)
fine sea salt and freshly gound black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2lb shallots, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
lb carrots, peeled and sliced (or put in a food processor, my favorite kitchen appliance)
2 celery ribs, diced
20 boiling onions, peeled
tsp grated fresh nutmeg
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
5 1/2 cups infusion de romarin

Infusion to romarin
2 bunches fresh rosemary sprigs
4 bay leaves
8 juniper berries (I couldn't find these, so I just left them out)
2in piece of dried orange peel (I used more than that of fresh peel)
1 bottle rose/red wine

To make the infusion: Put the rosemary, bay leaves, juniper berries, and orange peel in a saucepan with 5 1/2 cups of boiling water. Reduce heat to very low and cook 15 minutes or so to infuse the flavors. Add the wine, increasing heat to medium-high and cook until liquid has reduced by one third. Strain infusion. In addition to use in the stew, it can also be used as a marinade.

To make the stew: Cut the lamb into small pieces, cutting off as much of the fat as desired. Brush the lamb with the honey and rosemary and season lightly ith salt and pepper. Put lamb in a large saucepan with the olive oil and cook until meat is browned all over. Add the shallots, garlic, carrots, celery, and onions. Stir well and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue cooking, partially covered, over very low heat for 10-15 minutes. Ladle in the rosemary infusion and stir to keep the lamb just covered with liquid as it simmers. Cook for up to 2 hours, stirring from time to time and adjust the seasonings.

Rosemary Fougasse
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat graham flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2t salt
T olive oil
sprig of rosemary, herb removed from its branch
2-3 cups bread flour

Combine water, yeast, whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, rosemary, salt and oil in a large bowl. Beat until combined. Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes, to allow the yeast to develop. Add 2 cups of the bread flour to the yeast mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed.
Add enough of the remaining bread flour to make a firm, slightly sticky dough. Knead for about 12-15 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough manageable. When the dough is smooth and elastic, lightly oil the surface, place the dough in abowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour (or until doubled in bulk). Once risen, punch down the dough to work out the larger air pockets. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and spread each out in an over 1/2" thick. Place on a baking sheet (or two, if needed). Using a sharp knife, make four or five parallel slashes, starting about 1 inch from the edge and going across the bread to within 1 inch of the other side. Cover with a clean towel and let rise 30-45 minutes until almost doubled in size. About 15 minutes before the end of rising time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake bread for 25-35 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on wire racks.

Saffron Garlic Olive Oil Dip
3 garlic cloves, smashed
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
small pinch of saffron strands
1/2t cayenne pepper
1/2t paprika
2 medium egg yolks
1 cup olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle, grind together the garlic, salt, pepper, saffron, cayenne, paprika and egg yolks until fully mixed. Let the mixture rest for five minutes. Gradually add in the olive oil. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

I was originally just going to eat it this way, until I realized this was raw egg yolks. So I spread it on slices of the fougasse and popped it in the oven to crisp up (about 4-5 minutes).


Leah J. Utas said...

Oh, my, that lamb sounds wonderful I knew nothing of infusions until I read this post. Now I must try one.
Thanks. Happy New Year!

Romny said...

This sounds really good! I'm not a fan of lamb so I might use chicken instead. 1/2 pound of shallots seems like a lot though.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

I don't think I actually used 1/2 lb of shallots. I don't have a scale at home, so basically I cut up 5-6 shallots and called it a day.

I must say, though, that the lamb tasted better on reheating.

Leah, I had never tried infusions either! It's an interesting idea, isn't it?

Charlotte said...

Okay, now you're just talking food porn here:) I'd love to see you make all this stuff but these are recipes I'd never dare tackle! Still though - it's fun to read and imagine:)

The Lethological Gourmet said...


Honestly, if you'd shown me this page, I woulda looked at it and said "yeah, right, what you smokin' that you think I'm gonna make this all in one day?!" I was originally just going to make one dish, because the point was just to make a meal that would last a day or two (since I do have all that frozen food). But then I came across the dip that looked so good, so I figured I should make some bread to go with it, and I also found the lamb stew, and then well, I just went a little overboard... :)