02 May 2007

An evening in Provence

Well...not quite.

I'm in those last, few glorious hours between classes. Two weeks (ish) have passed and I've tried to get back to normalcy--you know, cleaning, a bit more cooking, more cleaning. I even got to the cinema (
Hot Fuzz is very fun, btw). What am I most pleased with?

Pleasure reading.

As a treat to myself--a bit of literary tourism, if you will--I bought
Georgeanne Brennan's A Pig in Provence, and have been enjoying a mini holiday in Provence. If you haven't read it yet, it's a very sweet and easy reminiscence of discovering Provence: making goat's cheese, buying pigs, truffle hunting. Brennan's writing is light and evokes wonderful imagery. You could finish it in an evening--it's not very long.

I must admit that I'm predisposed to this sort of book. I devoured
Peter Mayle and Tim Parks years ago and Bill Bryson has a home on my shelves.

Georgeanne's book made me realize I've not been anywhere in three years. Quite depressing, really. So...I've decided that after my I'm done this set of courses (December, methinks), I have to go somewhere. Apart from a weekend in New York City, the last bit of travelling I did was to India and England. This time I was waffling between Sweden and Provence. I think Provence is winning...especially since I found out there are culinary vacations (including a cooking course by Georgeanne). These courses aren't cheap, but they should be interesting. I've been saving my pennies, so I'm hoping in autumn 2008 I'll be hopping an aeroplane to Nice. At the very least I'll brush up on my French while I'm over there.

One of the nice things about his book is apart from being a food-centric memoire, is it's also a bit of a cookbook. Each section ends with a Provence-inspired recipe. Simple food made with fresh local ingredients (aren't those the best recipes anyway?). I decided to try and give myself a taste of France and try one out. The mushroom lover that I am, I had to try the receipt offered in "fungal obsessions"--Poulet au genièvre farci aux champignons sauvages (Juniper-rubbed chicken with wild mushrooms).

It was simple and tasty. I didn't have any wild mushrooms, so I used the "interesting" ones found at the local bigscarymegamart--oyster, shitaki, cremini, portabello. Because she is a home cook, the recipes work really well and read like something you'd get from a friend or your auntie. The chicken was delicious. Plain and simple.

...and yes, Beanie did get a little, teeny bit.

Poulet au genièvre farci aux champignons sauvages (Juniper-rubbed chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms)
adapted from Georgeanne Brennan's A Pig in Provence

1 roasting chicken
sea salt
crushed juniper berries (about half a dozen)
two shallots, finely minced
four handful (or so) of mixed mushrooms, sliced or chopped
a few slices of stale bread, cubed
a couple of pinches of dried thyme
250 ml white wine

Preheat oven to 400F/200C, or whatever temp you'd normally set the oven to when you roast a chicken.

Saute the shallots and half the mushrooms in the butter until the fungi have just turned golden. Season with some of the spices and the thyme and add in the bread cubes and mix well.

Season the bird's cavity and outside with the remaining spices and stuff with the bread mixture. Roast and baste as you'd normally do (I roast for 35 minutes plus 20 minutes per 500g, and baste every 10-15 minutes...I also poke it with a meat thermometer, for good measure).

When the bird is done, remove it to a cutting board. Drain off the fat. Add the rest of the mushrooms to the pan and saute until golden. Add wine and scrape off the lovely roasted bits that have clung to the roasting tin and let simmer for a bit.

Carve up the chicken and serve with the stuffing and the pan sauce.



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K and S said...

I've always wanted to go to Provence to experience the lavender fields. This recipe sounds very nice. Good luck with your studies :)

Lis said...

I can totally relate to how wonderful it feels to read some good books. I wish I had more time to do that! Or is it more time I need or less time with my PC? hee!

That chicken looks amazingly good! I'm so hungry now!


Shaun said...

Jasmine - You know, this is very first Provence recipe I have seen that calls for the use of juniper berries. I am very surprised and intrigued. Go on - go to Provence. After all, what if after next year's trip it isn't another three years before you get to go abroad? Besides, you'll get to really experience why everyone makes such a fuss. For further nudging in the that direction, I recommend Patricia Wells' "The Provence Cookbook". There are no photos, just glorious recipes that use loads of olive oil and garlic - bliss!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, chicken sounds good. Found you when I was googling "pig in provence" - have been long tempted by this book but am holding back until it appears in paperback..

Have you tried Patricia Wells for Provence cuisine?

jasmine said...

Hello all

Kat - I just bought a jar of lavender to bake with...it's so beautiful and smells so lovely...

Lis - Well...you could do what I did...get your 'puter so screwed up that it will take a week to get fixed and use your newly found free time to read!

Shaun - The juniper is subtle in taste and scent. I must admit to a prediliction for gin, so I was very happy to find a reason to buy some berries. Thanks for the recommendation--I'm just exploring Provencale cooking so I'll take a look at that book.

Roger - Welcome! It's a nice little book and perfect reading for when you need a break.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

It's been 30 years since I cooked with Juniper berries. This recipe makes me want to buy another jar!
A Pig in Provence is on my reading list.