The Burgundians do love their creams and sauces, but the remarkable diversity of the region’s cuisine pairs naturally with the various styles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Traditionally, cookbooks will tell you that cuisine à la bourguignonne means with a sauce of red wine, mushrooms, onions and bacon (think boeuf bourguignonne and coq au vin), and that the other classic bourguignonne treatment is with butter, shallots, white wine, garlic and parsley, found served with snails but also with sausage.
But these are just what I think of as the “export recipes.” Cuisine bourguignonne is, really, the food of Burgundy, and Burgundian cuisine is considerably more diverse. It draws on both the local wine—Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, plus Gamay and Aligoté, and Crémant de Bourgogne, the regional sparkling wine—and the local food: beef from Charolais cattle, lamb from Charollais sheep, the noteworthy chickens of Bresse, truffles and mushrooms, wonderful local cheeses like Comté, Citeaux, Chambertin and Epoisses, game birds like quail, partridge and pheasant, charcuterie like sausage, bacon and ham, and freshwater fish and seafood such as pike, crayfish, trout and eels. Even the local foie gras of duck is more accessible by virtue of it being a little less rich than its goosey brethren.
Also contributing to the tastes of Burgundy are fields of sunflowers and rapeseed, used to make sunflower oil and canola oil, prevalent in the local salad dressings, and the local berries—black currants grown mostly for crème de cassis, and airelles, or red currants. And we can’t forget the mustard of Dijon (see box page 62). This all expresses itself in local cuisine that marries wonderfully with the wines of the region. Some local tips include adding a splash of sparkling wine to the red wine in a marinade, and adding a bit of crème de cassis to a simple Pinot Noir (don’t cook with the good stuff) in a sauce to make it more companionable with a full-bodied premier cru.
Although I’ve tasted my way through the French countryside before, I recently had the opportunity to do so with a floating kitchen, aboard the French Country Waterways hotel barge Esprit traveling on the Central Canal, the Saône River and the Burgundy Canal between Chagny and Dijon. British chef Stephen Houchin, who has been cooking in Burgundy for nine years, was at the helm in the kitchen, turning out sumptuous lunches and dinners daily, usually paired with stellar local wines. After a day of visiting chateaus, bicycling alongside the canal and tasting wines in Santenay or Beaune, we’d be treated to a marvelous pairing like filet of roast pork in a balsamic vinegar sauce, served with an exquisite 1992 Pommard Les Pézerolles premier cru.
In addition to making beautiful matches with the steely tautness of a ’98 Chablis, the appley muskiness of a Mâcon-Fuissé, the creamy, honeyed smoke of an aged Meursault, the wonderful young berry/cherry fruits of nearly any ’97 from the Côte de Nuits, and the seductive velvety richness of a ’93 Volnay premier cru, Houchin also has a special talent for salads and dressings that use local ingredients and never fight with the wine: wild rice with red, yellow and orange peppers and chives in a tarragon vinaigrette; Roquefort with raspberries and balsamic vinegar over baby greens. All the recipes here are to his credit.
|Artichokes Stuffed with Escargots de Bourgogne|
This is chef Houchin’s variation on the traditional escargots à la bourguignonne, which is basically snails cooked in a spicy broth and sauced with butter, shallots, garlic and herbs. The Chartreuse sauce counterbalances the artichokes beautifully; a more traditional alternative calls for 2 parts Chablis to 1 part Burgundy marc (a grape-based spirit).
Wine suggestions: This holds its own with a serious Chardonnay: a good Montagny, or a Puligny-Montrachet.
Prepare the artichokes: Trim the bottoms and get rid of any damaged leaves. Bring to boil several quarts of water. Add the lemon (this prevents the artichokes from discoloring) and sliced onion, and boil briefly; add artichokes. Cover, bring to boil again. Cook artichokes for 10 to 12 minutes, or until there is just a small amount of resistance to a test with a knife. Drain and refresh artichokes with cold water; reserve.
Put the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic and bacon, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Add snails and immediately remove from heat. Mix thoroughly and allow to cool.
Heat oven to 350Â°F. Remove the heart of each artichoke by gently prising apart the leaves until the heart is exposed (save hearts for another use). Place the artichokes upright in a baking dish big enough to hold six. Stuff with the snail-bacon mixture (about half will remain for decorating the plate). Place the stuffed artichokes into the oven and heat through for 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring Chartreuse to a boil and reduce by half. Add the cream and again reduce by half. Keep warm. Warm up remaining snail/bacon mixture.
Divide the snail/bacon mixture among six warmed plates. Nestle one artichoke in the center of each. Pour sauce over and around. Sprinkle each plate with chopped tomato and chives for garnish. Serves 6.
|Tarte à la Bourguignonne|
The basic Burgundian tart is similar to quiche Lorraine—ham, cheese, eggs, cream, crust. This version utilizes those ingredients and more in a taller, more substantial version.
Wine suggestions: A country tart goes well with a country wine, like a 1997 Côte de Nuits. With the emphasis on ham, you could also try this with a Rully blanc, which is the traditional accompaniment for the classic Burgundian jambon persillé (a local ham with parsley in aspic).
A day ahead, make béchamel sauce. Combine all but the last two ingredients in a saucepan, and boil til the alcohol evaporates and the amount is reduced by about half. Roll flour and butter together into balls and whisk in to thicken. Refrigerate overnight. It should be the consistency of pudding.
To prepare the tart: Sauté onions in 1 teaspoon of butter til golden. Use the top of an 8- or 9-inch diameter, 3- to 4-inch-high cake or tart pan as a cookie cutter to cut a circle of the puff pastry; put aside. Cover the bottom and sides of the pan with the short crust, leaving about 1/2 inch hanging over the sides.
Layer one-quarter of the ham slices around the bottom of the crust. Add half the béchamel sauce, smoothing with a spoon. Top with another quarter of the sliced ham. Add the cheese to form one layer. Top with the sautéed onion, followed by another quarter of the ham slices. Add the rest of the bechamel, and top with the remaining ham.
Top with puff pastry, pinching the edges with the side crust. Glaze the top with beaten egg yolk. Bake in a 400Â° F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or til nicely browned. Slice to serve. Serves 6-8.
|Filet of Beef en Roulade with Black Truffles|
Many Burgundy beef dishes are stewed or sauced, since the local Charolais beef is not highly flavorful on its own. This recipe, with truffles and Pinot Noir in the sauce, gives a Burgundian cast to the flavors without overpowering a good filet such as those available in the U.S.
Wine suggestion: This was wonderful with a 1987 Latricières-Chambertin grand cru, but would go equally well with a younger Gevrey-Chambertin, a brawny Nuits-Saint-Georges, or a top Santenay.
Cut the filet lengthwise about 3/4 inch in and unroll to form rectangle (or ask your butcher to prepare the beef for a roulade). Chop together the truffles, chervil, tarragon and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread mixture on beef and roll back to original shape, tying with string.
Sear the meat in a seasoned or nonstick ovenproof pan over high heat, browning slightly, for 1-2 minutes, turning frequently to seal in juices. Heat oven to 500Â°F. Bake the meat for 20-25 minutes (for medium). Remove; cover with foil to retain heat. Reserve juices.
In a saucepan, bring the veal stock, wine and Port to a boil; reduce by half. Adjust seasoning. Add meat juices. Sauce can be further reduced, or thickened with cornstarch to proper consistency. Slice meat to about 2 inches thickness to serve; drizzle with sauce. Serves 6.
Note: Strong earthy mushrooms, such as morels, can be substituted for the truffles.
|Quail with Grapes|
|A quail dish in Burgundy can be as simply done as brushing the cleaned quails with local canola oil, sprinkling them with salt and pepper, and baking 20 minutes or so in a hot oven. A slightly dressier and not much more difficult version uses grapes for stuffing.
Wine suggestions: This is a fairly simple dish that, without much sauce, can go nicely with a fresh, light ’98 Mâcon-Fuissé, but the use of marc in the sauce also ties it in well with a nice fruity Pinot Noir from Beaune or Santenay.
Season the inside of the quails with salt and pepper, then stuff with about one-third of the grapes. Truss with a piece of pork fat around each quail. Brown quickly on top of the stove in a heatproof pan big enough to hold 6 quails at once, without any other fat. Discard the melted fat and wipe the bottom of the pan.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and put back the quails, letting the butter sizzle. Sprinkle with marc, remove from the heat and cover, leaving the quails to absorb the alcohol.
Meanwhile, mash another third of the grapes, and thin the cornstarch in the juice. Pour over the quails. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.
Peel the rest of the grapes and heat in 1 tablespoon of butter until they are no longer transparent. Fry the toast in the rest of the butter. Remove the ties from the quails, arrange the toast on a serving dish, and place a quail on each piece, surrounded by the warm grapes. Cover with sauce and serve immediately. Serves 6.
|Foie Gras de Canard Tartlets|
|This elegant appetizer is surprisingly easy to make, and brings in some lighter aspects of Burgundian cuisine: red currants (airelles) instead of black, duck foie gras rather than goose.
Wine suggestions: This was lovely with a 1991 Meursault Charmes premier cru, but the sauce also makes it quite companionable with a Prieur-Brunet Chambolle-Musigny.1 cup morels
For airelle sauce:
Sauté fresh morels in 1 teaspoon butter with onion and garlic. Let cool. Season to taste.
Use the top of a round tartlet tin as a cutter to cut out eight rounds of puff pastry. Divide morels among four of the pastry rounds. Break foie gras into four morsels and set among morels in each of the pastries. Top each with another round of puff pastry, brush around the edges of each pastry with water, and twist to seal. Let rest in the refrigerator for a half-hour, then brush with egg yolk for glaze. Cook in a tarlet pan or on a cookie sheet in a 400Â°F oven for a half-hour or til nicely browned.
Meanwhile, prepare the airelle sauce. Caramelize the shallots and garlic in butter. Add tomato purée; brown 2 to 3 minutes. Add veal stock, Port, wine, and all but 1 tablespoon of currants. Reduce the sauce by two-thirds, to less than 1 cup; strain. Add remaining red currants and butter; stir til butter is melted. Drizzle on plates and top with tartlets. Serves 4.