Slipping down the icy Gascon roads to Gimont was an exercise in prudence and haste. The long drive to get to the weekly seasonal Marché au Gras this week was all the more exciting after our freak snowfall and subsequent minus freezing temps created ideal snowboarding conditions. My old Van Rouge was up for the parcours so Hilary and I hopped in and drove into a white landscape of rolling hills and farms. Beautiful.
I know it would be a small market, the after season is always small, but coupled with the stay home weather we arrived to find the normally bustling large hall skint- just a dozen fatted ducks total, 3 or 4 geese. But what ducks!
There was my favorite smiling vendor with four beautifully prepared mullard ducks with the foie gras intact. Most ducks are sold separated from their livers these daysat different prices per kilo. Before anyone could even talk to me, I scored these 4 ducks, a healthy 23.5 kilos of them at 6 euros a kilo, and wrangled them into our plastic shopping bags. Whew. That took all of 3 minutes and then we were off to the local for a hot chocolate and the ride home.
But it was the unexpected arret minute to show Hilary the Duc de Gascogne boutique that provided our inspiration for today’s recipe- a crumble of Foie Gras aux Pain d’Epices. We sampled the little pot of creamy foie and its topping on toast while fortifying ourselves for the duck butchery; 23 kg is over 50 lbs of meat and fat to trim, render, salt, confit, & sterilize. The 3 large livers and one smaller one totaled 2.35 kilograms or a neat 10% of our harvest. At 6 euros a kilo we paid 14 euros for the 4 livers. Why do I live in Gascony, Hank Shaw?
Breaking the work into two days, we butchered and trimmed and salted yesterday. today, we’ll dice and render fat, clean flare fat from intestines, dry, confit and pack into jars for sterilizing. We’ll make rillettes, cure and smoke some magret for ‘duck bacon’ and yes, make a little pain d’épices (my recipe here!) to serve ‘crumble-style’ with our foie gras.
This is just one week in an artisan life creating good food while teaching how to think like a Gascon cook. Here’s some past Confit Tips…http://kitchen-at-camont.com/2009/01/26/fat-ducks-everything-you-need-to-know-from-confit-to-foie-gras/