Sunday 14 July 2013

Menu du Jour: Le diable écossais

It's Bastille Day, and as Fanny was such a devotee of French cookery, it feels appropriate to adapt one of her recipes to suit. That's to suit me, as a vegetarian, of course. Fanny herself has adapted this particular recipe from a famous Breton Cook, Madame la Mere Poularde, who, without knowing whom she was talking to, praised the late King of the Belgians by telling him 'you have eaten and drunk well - you may consider yourself free to come again'! So what did La Mere cook for the King? Devilled Chicken with Saffron Rice seems to have been the delight he savoured... For me Poulet Diable is transformed using some Vegetarian Haggis kindly sent by Jo Macsween from Macsweens Haggis for me to try, into Le Diable écossais...

I've never made any classic French sauces, so I'm keen to see how this Devil Sauce turns out. I add my finely chopped shallots, garlic and freshly cracked pepper to some stock, and add a faggot of herbs. Fanny really does write her own jokes - but also cuts the laughter short as she translates it for me into French - bouquet garni. Phew. They simmer together for 20 minutes as the house is filled with the wonderful smells of gently cooking shallots. Mmmm. 

Once reduced I need to replenish it to it's original volume with some more stock, without explanation. Without hesitation, I do. Fanny tells me to melt some butter, add some flour and stir. I know I am making a roux, even if Fanny doesn't tell me. Am I getting ahead of myself? Adding in a little of the shallot-y stock I 'beat' it as instructed, and add in some Curry Paste (Fanny seems the one ahead of her time here) some Tomato Purée and a drop or two of Worcestershire Sauce. 

Once all the stock has been added and beaten in gradual steps, I am instructed to sieve it and retain the sauce. It looks great! Very glossy... Just feels a shame to discard those lovely shallots, but I guess they've done their work.

Next up is to cook some rice for exactly 11 and a half minutes to a 'strong simmer' with a pinch of Saffron and to fry up some slices of Vegetarian Haggis. Fanny tells me to push the hot, cooked vibrant yellow rice into Dariole moulds (it's French all the way today) and cover with a 'tent of foil' while I get everything else ready. Fanny has a glorious technicolour picture of a whole chicken sitting in a pool of sauce with neat rows of rice with olives on top. This is a step too far for me, I have a phobia against olives, but I present my dish Fanny-esque.

This sauce was devilishly easy to make, has a nice wee kick and goes so well with the Vegetarian Haggis. I am confident that the King of the Belgians, Madame la Mere Poularde, Jo Macsween and Fanny herself would be delighted to sit round my table and help me enjoy it. What a fantasy dinner party, devils and all! Bon Appetit! 

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