ASTUCE: The best meat for couscous soup is lamb neck, which is wonderfully gelatinous, rather like oxtail or beef eye of round. You can use a mix of meats too, however, without adding any pork. Baking soda added to beans as they cook tenderizes them. Finally, you will notice that the carrots and the zucchini cook until they are soft, which is how they are meant to be. If you want your vegetables a bit more “al dente,” simply add them later on in the cooking time.
This recipe makes enough for 8 rounds. You will have leftover mashed potatoes, most likely; don’t worry, they keep and reheat perfectly.
Equipment: six to eight 3-1/2cm (9-inches) metal rounds, for presentation; parchment paper; baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Or, if you prefer, a medium-sized baking dish.
Rabbit is easily found in most places in the U.S., though it will often be in the frozen food department. Try to find it. It’s beautiful meat – lean, subtle, tender, and it cooks so well, wrapped in bacon, over the coals. The by-word is slow, even cooking. Just be patient, turn it regularly and you’ll have a feast on your hands. And if you cannot find rabbit, use chicken….!
Onglet, or hanger steak, is a very special cut of beef, highly regarded here because of its flavor and tender, slightly elastic texture. It is considered an organ meat, in part because it is so perishable, and it requires quick, brief grilling so that the exterior is deep golden and almost crisp, and the interior is juicy and red. The horseradish is a spicy counterpoint, and altogether it goes perfectly with a rich yet smooth Bordeaux Supérieure, such as a Chateau Panchille.
ASTUCE: hangar steak is best served rare because it stays tender that way but as always, this depends on your taste. Also, the weight called for is hangar steak trimmed of any nerve tissue (most likely the way you will purchase it). I cut the hangar steak in half, lengthwise, because I find it much easier to handle than one long, narrow steak. Finally, don’t let the instructions for tying the hangar steak intimidate you – just cut pieces of string, slip them under the steak and tie a bow if you have to, or a quick little knot. Simple.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: kitchen twine, tongs, cutting board
PREPARATION AND GRILLING TIME: 25-30 minutes, if preparing the White Sauce, and depending on how rare you like your steak; 10 minutes maximum if the White Sauce is already prepared.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: moderate
This hearty dish is pure, simple, delicious, like the Breton region itself, with its endless coastlines, verdant rolling hills, and sea spray air.
Grilled bread. The first time I made this for French friends, they couldn’t believe it. How could something so simple and basic be SO GOOD? French is such a bread culture yet bread has its place, and that place is sliced, in a basket, as a support for cheese, a pusher for salad, a sopper for sauce. Grilled? It really takes the Italians for that, and here, I’ve crossed the border and introduced it to France! And just in case you wondered, everyone I know is making it now! Because this is quick, you can make it while the grill is heating, and have it ready for guests when they arrive so they don’t notice that dinner isn’t quite ready!
ASTUCE: I brush the bread with oil – not too much – before grilling, then brush it again once it’s off the grill. This avoids flare-ups which might add a not-so-good flavor to the toasted bread. It also keeps the fat level down. I get a wonderful organic bread from the food coop in Louviers that looks as though it was made for a giant – it’s a long, fat loaf studded with grains and made with the greatest blend of spelt and wheat flours. Try and find something similar for this recipe.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: long tongs, pastry brush
PREPARATION TIME: about 4 minutes
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: simple