What to Eat in France: Mouclade de l’île de Ré

Published by Friday, August 28, 2015 Permalink 0

What to Eat in France: Mouclade de l’île de Ré, Curry and Cream Mussels from the Island of Ré

Moules de Bouchot, or Farmed Mussels

Humans have been eating mussels forever. Even the South American Indians left behind piles of millions of shells, and there is evidence that some prehistoric people used the shells as spoons.

Moules de bouchot are a specialty of this region, the Poitou-Charentes, where they are farmed. They are smaller than mussels brought in from the sea.

poitou-charentes map

Poitou-Charentes region showing Ile de Ré.

The story has it that this method of farming mussels was started by a shipwrecked Scotsman (or Irishman?), Patrick Walton, in 1235. Although the locals took him in, he was stranded and without money, so he decided to take up his usual occupation of hunting sea birds. He strung his nets along the coast, holding them in place with wooden posts stuck into the ground. To his great surprise he discovered that his posts were “invaded” by tiny mussels that multiplied at a phenomenal rate. He soon changed professions, and started trapping mussels and fattening them — they were a lot faster to fatten than birds — and in so doing invented the first mussel farms using young tree trunks (bouchot means young tree trunk). It is now common practice on the Atlantic Coast of France.

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Published by Tuesday, June 2, 2015 Permalink 0

Chartres-style Blanquette de Veau Recipe / Apple, onion, carrot and veal stew in apple juice and white sauce recipe

This dish hails from Normandy, where cream, butter, apples and calves are abundant. Chartres is not officially in Normandy, but its cuisine is similar.

by Jonell Galloway

1 kilogram or 2 pounds veal shoulder, cut into 2″ x 2″ pieces
12 pearl onions, or the white of 12 small spring onions, peeled and whole
1 apple, chopped
4 carrots, cut into large chunks crosswise
Apple juice
Veal or chicken broth
6 small new potatoes in jacket
4-5 tablespoons flour
2-3tablespoons butter
1/2 liter or 1 quart milk
Italian or flat parsley, chopped
Dutch oven or similar large pan

  1. Put the veal pieces in Dutch oven.
  2. Add the onions, apple and carrots.
  3. Cover with half apple juice and half veal broth. Salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer gently for 1 hour, then add the whole potatoes.
  5. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.
  6. Drain broth from meat and reserve it to make white sauce.
  7. Melt butter in a large, deep frying pan or saucepan. When melted, gradually whisk in 3-4 tablespoons of flour, stirring constantly until the roux starts to gently brown.
  8. Gradually whip in the milk until sauce starts to thicken. Continue whipping until all the milk is absorbed. It should be extra thick. If not, put one more tablespoon of flour into a ladle and add white sauce to ladle. Mix well to form a smooth paste, then whip this into white sauce.
  9. Gradually whip the broth from the stew into the white sauce. When smooth and thick, pour this back into the stew.
  10. Gently mix, turning the meat and vegetables over in white sauce.
  11. Simmer very gently for 5 minutes, stirring carefully so that meat and vegetables don’t fall apart.
  12. Serve, sprinkling with chopped parsley.

Note: This is often served with rice. If you prefer rice, leave out the potatoes. Small turnips can also be added at the beginning, as well as other vegetables, according to taste.


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