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Posts Tagged ‘game’

The Loire Valley is well known for the glorious Chateaux built by French kings and the nobility. Their presence in the lush, fertile valley saw the development of the regal regional cuisine which is drawn from the abundance of game hunted in the valley’s forests, freshwater fish and delicious fruits and vegetables grown in the fertile soil surrounding the Loire River. The grapes in Loire are prevalently white with Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, made from Sauvignon Blanc, the regions most well known white wines however Sancerre also produces red wines based on Pinot Noir which are flavorful and light bodied.   Chinon AOC also produces fruity reds with notable flavors of raspberry from Cabernet Franc.

Rabbit is representative of the cuisine of the region given game is prevalent in the cuisine of the Loire.  This dish, Rabbit Tournedos Stuffed with Prunes, presents beautifully and is rich in flavor – definitely worthy of nobility.   Prunes are paired in Loire preparations of rabbit and pork in a number of recipes providing sweet and savory tastes.  This recipe is enhanced with the earthy quality of mushrooms and richness of cream.   Hence Sancerre from Loire is a royal match for this dish as it provides a bit of acidity to counterbalance the mushroom farce and cream sauce.

We had already tackled rabbit in Basic Cuisine however, in this recipe; the technical challenge was not to portion the rabbit for cooking, but to debone it.  Having known this lesson was coming I been researching techniques for deboning a whole rabbit which I happened on this YouTube video where a charming Italian butcher makes quick work of bugs bunny.  After watching this video 10 times and studying his technique, I felt ready to tackle the rabbit.

For the tournedos the whole rabbit is used however rather than deboning the whole rabbit and leaving it intact, the legs, both hind and front are removed from the saddle.  Imagine my disappointment that the challenge would be less!

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I adore sausage!  I know it’s bad for me as it’s very fattening, but I still love it.  I have a delicious recipe for Tuscan Stew made with mild or spicy Italian pork sausage that is perfect with a robust glass of Barbara or Dolcetto on Friday evening in the winter.   Although I have cooked it a few times over the past couple of years in the Netherlands, I cannot find good, flavorful pork sausage so I had shelved the recipe.  I was delighted to learn the Cordon Bleu in Amsterdam, also known as La Cuisine Francais, was holding a sausage making workshop where I could learn the basic technique from which I could then create my own perfect sausages for my beloved Tuscan Stew.

I invited a couple of friends, my Cordon Bleu classmate Ingrid and our good friend and neighbor MJ, for the all day class on February 5 at the school in the Herengracht.    Two experienced sausage makers delivered the workshop, Nanda Elzinga who has worked in many of the top kitchens in Amsterdam and Theo Kroonenburg a well respected 68 year old butcher.  After a review of the importance of cleanliness and the equipment needed, a scale, meat grinder and varieties of stuffers, we watched as Nanda made the basic recipe, meat, fat, onions seasonings and salt in the right proportions

stuffed into casing.  Theo took to the task of creating the filling for venison sausages, adding this and that without aid of a scale or recipe, to the angst of Nanda who had carefully explained its importance, but that is what 40 years of experience allows you to do!

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