South West France’s Traditional Ingredients and Recipes
One of the ingredients most often associated with France is the humble garlic bulb or ‘Ail’ .
It is said that over 70% of traditional recipes in the south west of France contain garlic particularly in the areas of Perigord and Quercy.
The people of these areas as with most French nationals have long since recognized the medicinal properties of the garlic bulb.
It is recommended for curing colds, improves digestion and has even been said to have a similar effect as that of kissing the Irish blarney stone.
Garlic is used lavishly throughout France in soups, pies and meat casseroles for its health giving properties and fabulous flavor enhancement.
The addition of parsley is said to help counteract the lingering odour which is possibly why persillade, which is a finely chopped mixture of parsley and garlic, is a popular addition to many soup dishes in the south west.
A feature of most vegetable plots or potagers, careful planting and storage means that garlic is readily available to all cooks through every month of the year.
There are many varieties of garlic but’ l’ail rond de Limousin’ is usually one of the first ready each season.
Traditional French cooks would not usually use a garlic press preferring instead to finely chop or crush with the blade of the knife.
Les Patates à l’Ail
6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons goose fat
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and thinly slice the potatoes, rinse and dry.
Peel and crush the garlic
Heat the fat in a lidded heavy bottomed pan .
Add garlic, keeping on a low heat so as not to burn the garlic.
Add the potatoes and turn to ensure they are coated in the fat/garlic mix
Cover with the lid and cook slowly for around 30 minutes occasionally stirring to ensure they do not stick.
Season at the end and serve immediately
An ideal accompaniment to confit de canard.
( Garlic and walnut sauce)
75g Shelled fresh walnuts
50g Garlic (traditionally ail rose de Lautrec or Beaumont-de-Lomagne)
150ml Walnut oil
1tablespoon Chopped parsley
Place walnuts and garlic in to a food processor.
Transfer to a bowl stir in 2 tblsp of cold water then add salt pepper and slowly beat in the oil.
You should have a thick sauce.
Finally stir in the finely chopped parsley
Traditionally served with magret de canard but a delicious addition to many meals
La Soupe a l’Ail
350g of dried or canned haricot beans
1 large onion
Tablespoon of goosefat
1 litre beef or chicken stock
Slices of bread (4)
2 tablespoons walnut oil
Soak the beans overnight if you are using dried
Soften the onion in the fat
Add beans and stir to coat in the fat
Add garlic cut in to halves
Pour over the stock
Bring to the boil and simmer gently for up to an hour to ensure the beans are cooked
Place a slice of bread in the bowl, pour over the soup and drizzle with the walnut oil