Saturday, April 22, 2017

Paleron – A French cut from the center of a shoulder of beef or veal and occasionally pork

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The paleron, a French beef center shoulder fore cut.

 This cut, for beef, is often used for Provencal Daubs and other stews. Within the rules of French cuisine it comes from the center of the shoulder.

There is no exact UK OR USA cut that matches a paleron.

There is lots of confusion with the French and the UK and USA cuts from the shoulder.  Many shoulder cuts make excellent steaks, and the whole shoulder area is often referred to in the UK and USA as chuck or chuck steaks along with quite a number of other names for local cuts,  The paleron is a French center shoulder cut and is rarely used in France for steaks. Now steaks may be prepared from this cut; nevertheless, in France, tradition is tradition, and the paleron is nearly always used for some of France’s best-tasting beef and veal dishes along with the occasional pork dish.

UK fore cuts.

Paleron on French Menus:
Ravioles de Paleron de Bœuf,  Toast de Moelle et Mousseline de Carottes à l’Orange, Émulsion Réglisse – Ravioli stuffed with meat from a daub or another stew served with toast with bone marrow and a moose of carrots flavored with orange and a thick licorice sauce.
Brochettes De Paleron De Bœuf Marinées – Skewers of marinated beef from the paleron.

Cuts from a paleron.

Le Paleron De Bœuf Irlandais Aux Champignons Et Lard Gras, Pressé De Cèleris et Carottes Confites A stew of the paleron from Irish beef prepared with button mushrooms and fatty bacon and served with a jam (confit) made with celery and carrots.
Paleron de Bœuf Servi Avec son Jus, Risotto aux Truffes et Croûtons de Pain – A beef paleron served with its natural cooking juices, a risotto flavored with truffles and accompanied by bread croutons

Paleron de Bœuf à la Crème d’Échalotes
et Risotto aux Topinambours
A braised beef paleron prepared with a cream of shallots
 and a risotto with Jerusalem artichokes.
Paleron de Bœuf Charolais Braise Doucement au Four, Jus au Poivre de Java, Legumes Glaces, Galette de Patate Douce.  Paleron of beef slowly braised in the oven with a natural gravy flavored with the Balinese long pepper and served with glazed vegetables and a sweet potato crepe.

Paleron de Porc aux Légumes de Saison – A paleron cut from a pork shoulder and served with the season’s vegetables.

Salade de paleron de bœuf
Le Paleron De Veau Français Confit À Basse Température Jets De Houblon, Garniture Maraichère – A paleron of French veal confit (slowly cooked) at a low temperature and served with hop shoots and market garden vegetables.

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Haricot Tarbais – The Bean from Tarbes is one of France’s Favorite Beans. The Haricot Tarbais on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
The Haricot Tarbais

The Haricot Tarbais Bean

The Haricot Tarbais bean, like all beans, was discovered in South America and brought back by the conquistadors. The area around the town of Tarbes is called the Commune of Tarbes and it is a very important farming community in the department of the Hautes-Pyrénées in the new super region of Occitanie. In Tarbes, they have been selecting and improving on this strain of imported bean since the 18th century.  The dried white Haricot Tarbais was, in 1997, the first dried bean to be awarded the Label Rouge, the red label, for its unique and consistent quality.

Buy the Haricot Tarbaise in the supermarket.

Photograph courtesy of the Cooperative Haricot Tarbais.
If you are close to Tarbes during the picking season, from Mid-August to October, it is worth visiting the town for many excellent and tasty reasons that include the fresh bean. Elsewhere in France, the Tarbes bean will still be on your menu but then it will be the rehydrated dried white bean.  The town of Tarbes has a population of 47,000 and is one of the oldest communities in France; continually settled for at least 1,500 years.

The Haricot Tarbais on French Menus:

Bar De Ligne, Purée De Haricots Tarbais, Jus Au Pécharmant, Rouelle d’Oignon Doux Des Cévennes Wild European Sea Bass served with a Tarbais Bean puree prepared with a sauce from the Pécharmant wines (wines from the North East of Bergerac) and onion rings from the AOP Sweet Onions of Cevennes.
Roast lamb with Tarbais beans
Pécharmant is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, AOC/AOP wine produced in the hills to the North-East of the town of Bergerac, in the Dordogne-Perigord in France's South-West in the new super region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.  (The new region of Nouvelle Aquitaine includes the old departments Aquitaine, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes. The change was made on 1-1-2015 when France reduced the number of mainland departments from 22 to 13).
Souris d'Agneau à l'Échalote Confite, Purée de Haricots Tarbais Lamb shank prepared with a shallot jam and served with a puree of the Tarbais beans.
Tarbais beans with quinoa

Coques et Haricots Tarbais en Salade  - Cockles, that popular member of the clam family served in a salad with the Tarbais Beans.

La Dorade Croustillante, Mousseline de Haricot Tarbais, Palourdes, Piment Doux -  Crisply cooked Gilthead Sea Bream served with a moose of Tarbais beans, clams, and sweet peppers.
The Confrérie of the Haricot Tarbais.
Carré de Porc des Montagnes Braisé au Jus et Haricots Tarbais -  A braised pork chop from the pigs raised in the mountains and cooked with their natural cooking juices and the Tarbais beans.
Tarbais is the center of one of France’s major agricultural centers.
So much is grown and raised within the area of the Commune Tarbais that they have their own annual agricultural exhibition every March.  Within the Hautes-Pyrénées department of Occitanie, where Tarbes is situated they also raise the famous Mouton Barèges-Gavarnie AOC, the only AOC mutton in France. The local farmers also raise the Label Rouge, red label, Blonde de Aquitaine cattle as well as other breeds for both beef and milk. Apart from beans, mutton, and beef, you will also find on local menus the pork and ham from the unique Porc Noir Gascon pigs. These Black Gascony Pigs also called the Black Pigs of Bigorre, the Noir de Bigorre AOC/AOP pigs, were nearly extinct until brought back from the brink less than thirty years ago.  With the area of Midi-Pyrenees are also the Label Rouge Poultry of Gers, Lauragais, Tarn, and Quercy. Tarbes is also not at a loss for many other fruits and vegetables, from potatoes and lettuce to tomatoes, clémentines, and lemons; Tarbes supplies much more than just beans to the rest of France.  In local restaurants expect fresh farmed trout as well as wild trout from local rivers and streams. 

The website of the Tourist Information Office of the city of Tarbes is in English if you click on the British flag as you enter the site:

The cheeses produced around Tarbes include:
 Bleu des Causses AOP,
 Tomme des Pyrénées IGP.
Roquefort Cheese,
There are many restaurants in and around Tarbes with excellent chefs and most with prices that are half those be found in the big cities.  Local wine lists include the Madiran AOP red wine and the uniquely named Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec AOP, a dry white wine. Both these wines are grown around outside the small village of Madiran which itself is just 12 km (7.5 miles) away from Tarbes. 
The lemons of Tarbes
 If you are visiting the area around Tarbes and are interested in food products in general and the products of Tarbes, in particular, visit the Halle Brauhauban with its daily morning food market. Also of interest may be the Grand Marché, the grand market; here in the Place Marcadieu, they have a flea market every Thursday morning and farmers' markets twice a week.The local Tourist Information office will supply days and hours.
The market at Halle Brauhauban.
For visitors to the area, the pilgrimage town of Lourdes is just 50 km (31 miles) away.  In the winter Tarbes and Lourdes are both fully booked as they are short distances from important skiing areas. The city of Tarbes is close to the Parc National des Pyrénées. The website of the National Park of the Pyrenees is in French but easily understood using the Google or Bing translate apps:

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Carré Nantais or Curé Nantais – A special 40% fat, yellow, cow’s milk cheese from the Pays de Loire and Bretagne, Brittany.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Curé Nantais Cheese.

The Cheese
Carré Nantais or Curé Nantais is a medium soft, light yellow, 40% fat pasteurized cow’s milk cheese. It is aged for a minimum of four weeks before being sold. Since it is a pasteurized cheese, there will be no problems with USA customs, the UK presents no customs problems; nevertheless and cheeses must be carefully wrapped for traveling; good cheese shops offer vacuum packing that is the best solution for smelly cheeses.  (For more about buying cheese in France and taking cheese home click here). For this link I will just use the name Curé Nantais as that name includes some 80% of the cheeses on sale.
Cheeses from the Curé Nantais Dairy in Pornic.
This is a great website that gives details (in English) of cottages to rent along with information about the many wonderful activities in Pornic.  A town that sees many French visitors but needs more English speaking visitors.
Aging the Carré Nantais cheese.
The Curé Nantais is aged on wooden spruce boards, and during this time the cheeses will be washed every two days with salt water or Muscadet wine; during this period the Curé Nantais will gradually acquire a beautiful orange rind. When cheese is opened, you will note its strong smell and find a medium-soft pate with some small holes.  The cheese has a strong smell which is nothing like its taste; it has a smoky, almost bacon type smell along with a mild spicy flavor. (The Muscadet white wine used during the curing comes from vineyards growing all around the City of Nantes).

Collector’s label for Carré Nantais Cheese

The story behind the cheese.
The cheese’s first name Carré Nantais refers to the cheese’s original shape a carré, a square; now you may buy the cheese in other shapes; nevertheless, the name remains. Its familiar name is the Curé Nantais, and that means the Priest of Nantes’s cheese. That refers to a tradition where the original recipe was given to a local farmer (Pierre Hivert) in the Saint-Julien-de-Concelles (a Nantes vineyard), by a priest escaping the French Revolution.  After giving the farmer the recipe for the cheese the priest just left and disappeared in the smoke of the French Revolution.  (Shades of the story of Camembert).

Aging the Curé Nantais Cheese.
Curé Nantais On French menus:
Burger Charolais à Notre Façon, Pain Artisanal de Notre Boulanger, aux Éclats De Pistaches, Sauce Barbecue Maison, Oignons Rouges, Tuile De Lard, Curé Nantais et Frites Maison – A hamburger made with Charolais beef to the restaurant’s own recipe. The bread for the hamburger buns is made by the restaurant’s own baker. The burger is covered with slivers of pistachio nuts, the house’s own barbecue sauce, red onions, squares of bacon, Carré Nantais cheese and the restaurant’s own take on French fries. For more information of the different breads offered in French bakeries follow the link to The Types of French Bread and a Glossary for Buying French Bread.

Hamburger with Carré Nantais cheese.
Carré Nantais et sa Confiture de Cerises Noires – A dessert of Carré Nantais cheese accompanied by a jam made with black cherries.

Crevettes et Saumon Gravlax, Samoussas au Curé Nantais et Figue – Shrimps made with gravlax cured salmon served with samosas stuffed with Curé Nantais cheese and figs.  (Samosas came to France with France's colonization of India (1763-1954) when it set out its areas of interests in that great country.  That was long after the Portuguese and others had established colonies: Portugal (1505-1961), England (1612-1948), Netherlands (1605 - 1825), and Denmark (1620 - 1869)).
Filet Mignon De Porc Au Curé Nantais – A cut from the pork tenderloin, a pork fillet, cooked with Curé Nantais cheese. A filet mignon in France unless clearly noted is a cut from a pork tenderloin. Before ordering a filet mignon in France read this link on Filet Mignon on French Menus.
Making crepes with Curé Nantais
Onglet de Bœuf Sauce Curé Nantais, Frites Maison  - A US hanger steak or UK skirt steak served with a sauce made from the Curé Nantais cheese and accompanied by the restaurant’s own take on French Fries.  Whenever a restaurant notes that is offering its own take on French fries ask what makes them different.  The first French fries were made with beef fat and many of the best restaurants continue with that recipe; also in the South-West of France duck fat is often used and the chef may point to the different potatoes used.

Toast with Curé Nantais cheese

Pavé De Veau Gratiné au Curé Nantais, Gratin de Pommes de Terre et Son Jus au Vinaigre Balsamique – Veal cooked or finished with a Curé Nantais topping and served with potatoes cooked in the cooking juices of the veal and Balsamic vinegar and then browned under the grill with Curé Nantais cheese.   N.B. Pavé is a paving stone or a flat slab; however, on a menu pavé will describe wide slices of steak, liver and or fish and in this case veal.  Gratiné or Gratinée is any dish that is cooked au gratin; that means browned in the oven or under the grill. Many of these dishes will have a grilled cheese topping).
Nantes the city that gave
Curé Nantais cheese its name.
Nantes, the city that gave the cheese its name, is the capital city of the Pays de la Loire region and the Loire-Atlantique department. Apart from its cheese, wines and other produce Nantes is the sixth largest city in France and is considered by the French to be one of the top cities to work in and live in.  For more about Nantes, you may follow the link: Nantes, The City, and its Cuisine. N.B. In 1941 Nantes was separated from Brittany and that still upsets the Bretons. 
The city of Nantes.
Photograph courtesy of  Amaud Abelard
The production of Curé Nantais.

For tens of years the Curé Nantais cheese was made on the farms; then with the cheese’s commercial success, the farmers who supply the milk created dairies that use the traditional and modern methods for making this cheese. The cheese now comes in three forms. The original square which in fact is a cushion shape as the edges are rounded is  9cm x 9cm  x 3 cm thick. (3.5” x 3.5” x 1.2”) and weighs approximately 210 grams (7.5 ounces)  The second form is round and weighs approximately 800 grams (28 ounces). The third form is also round and weighs about 200 grams (7 ounces).

Making the cheese in a dairy.

Visit a dairy making the cheese.
You may visit one of the dairies producing this cheese in the in the small town of Pornic about  50km (30 miles) away; that is 55 minutes from  Nantes and receive an explanation on cheese making, a tasting and the opportunity to buy the cheese and other local products.  Call them first for the exact hours.  N.B. The dairy closes for lunch, like many factories and offices in France, including tourist sites; lunch hours are between 1 pm and 2.30 pm ( 13:00 and 14:30).
The Dairy’s address :
Le Curé Nantais
28 rue Port Chéri
44210 Pornic
The dairy’s telephone number is: 02 40 82 28 08.

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010. 2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman