Tuesday, May 17, 2016

POMMES DE TERRE AU LARD: Potatoes With Bacon

{These French recipies are from a French cookbook called La Cuisine:  Guide Practique de la Ménagère by Chef R. Blondeau.  This book was passed down to me from my great-grandmother, who was from Alsace, a North-eastern region on the Rhine river plain in France.  It was published in 1930 as a guide for cooks hired to cook for upper-middle class families.

As a fun project, I am translating the recipes from French, testing them out with home-grown or raised food, and re-writing them in a modern format, with notes about what worked for me in the kitchen} 

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Lard actually means bacon in French, rather than the rendered pig fat that the word means in English.  This can be confusing sometimes.  The word for lard in French is saindoux.  With all the potatoes in the garden, and the bacon curing process finally finished, I decided to give this recipe a try.

When I read the title of the recipe, I assumed it would be potatoes fried with bacon, similar to the last recipe of POMMES DE TERRE A LA MAITRE D'HOTEL, in which the potatoes are parboiled, and then fried until crisp in melted butter. But this recipe turns out to be potatoes cooked in a rich gravy.

Mashed potatoes and gravy was my favorite food when I was a child, so I found potatoes cooked in gravy just delightful.  However, there was some disappointment among the children when it was discovered that we were actually NOT having fried potatoes for dinner.  Afterwards, when pressed for an opinion, the general vote was that it turned out to be "good," which can be considered a high compliment when coming from these three of particular taste and exacting standards. And, unfortunately, this dish had to be removed from Ethan last night before he made himself ill with a fourth helping.

 POMMES DE TERRE AU LARD (Potatoes with Bacon)

Cut 125 grams of bacon into pieces, and sautée with 30 grams of fresh butter.  Sprinkle with a spoonful of flour, stir and allow to brown, wet with two cups of broth, salt, pepper, and add your potatoes which are washed, wiped dry, and cut into quarters, a bouquet of parsley, thyme, bay leaf, cover and let cook over a low fire for an hour.

Potatoes With Bacon - A Modern Version

1/2 cup chopped bacon
1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon flour

2 cups of broth

salt and pepper to taste

About 3 lbs of potatoes, washed, wiped dry, and cut into quarters

fresh parsley and thyme

1 bay leaf

1.  In either a frying pan with good sides, or a medium pot with a wide bottom, put the bacon on to fry with the tablespoon of butter.  When some of the fat has melted out of the bacon, sprinkle the tablespoon of flour over.

2.  Cook the flour, butter, and bacon together, stirring here and there, as the flour and bacon get slightly toasty.

3.  Add the two cups of broth, and stir to avoid lumps.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  It should thicken into a gravy.  Add the quartered potatoes, and tuck the herbs and the bay leaf in.

4.  Cover and cook on low heat for about an hour.

Notes: Our bacon is quite salty enough, so I did not add any extra salt.  Also, the potatoes from the garden were small and tender, and it only took about 25-30 minutes for them to be fully cooked.  I would also suggest stirring every so often, as they tended to want to stick a bit on the bottom towards the end of cooking.

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