Big spirals of meaty sausages grilled over fire, slipped onto cassoulets, eaten with purée de pomme de terre (mashed potatoes) and much gusto. That’s what comes to mind when someone says “Saucisse de Toulouse”. Over the years spent haunting the butcher shops of Southwest France, I have just one thing to say to you- “It’s all about the pig”.
All these pictures were taken in the Marché Victor Hugo in Toulouse or my kitchen at Camont. This is how Saucisse de Toulouse is sold, always in long casings, coiled into spirals and selling for the price of good meat…because it is just that, all good meat. In France, Saucisse de Toulouse is recognized as a fundamental element of many recipes. It replaces a shoulder roast, a chop or slice of ham when preparing a family dinner. It is just good meat.
The better the pork, the better the sausage. There are no spices, additives or coloring to make it look or taste better. It is good pork, ground coarsely, seasoned only with salt & pepper and stuffed into natural casings. For the first recipe I ever wrote about making Saucisse de Toulouse, click here.
The temperature free falls this first September night. It is cold enough to need long sleeves and duvets again as August’s blue moon, hungover from a month of fetes casts her cool light. One minute it’s Summer, the next full on Fall.
Pears, Okra, Pumpkins are waiting in the weeks to appear on our menus at Camont. There are still candy sweet Tomatoes and blood red Peaches for the picking. But all the purple Prune d’Agen to come, golden Chassela grapes and curly Savoy Cabbages push those summer late nights off the charts and make me think about getting back to serious cooking.
Long simmered dishes are queen of the kitchen at Camont. Cast iron pots of beans and lentils have been on hold long enough. It’s time to braise and simmer, stew and mijoter until the flavors of garden and orchard, farm yard and field are swirling around my big terracotta pots.
After an August of night markets and friends, too hot days and sultry nights, I am so ready for these first cold nights, I have already begun to plan the dishes we’ll prepare for after-school suppers.
Charcuterie-at-Camont School begins September 17th and to feed the hard-working students coming from around the globe, we’ll prepare Henri IV’s classic Poule-au-Pot, or a Herb-truffled Roast Chicken. As we light the first fire in the stove while learning the ‘why’ of whole hog seam butchery for French charcuterie, we’ll simmer a solid white bean & cabbage Garbure from the south of Gascony for a one-pot meal. Or put a pork shoulder on to braise in the Gascon way- an Estouffade As the 4-week students learn to make Confit de Canard and Saucisse de Toulouse, we’ll bake a géant Cassoulet in a low slow oven. Sorry, no breadcrumbs, Mr. Ruhlman!
Every season has its charms. Autumn in Gascony is my favorite! We’ll recycle the carpet of fallen leaves into litter for the chicken coop, fallen branches on the petanque court become kindling, and as the French pumpkins turn to gold, I welcome you to follow our new recipe section for ‘School Night Suppers’ with some easy classic Gascon cooking.
See you when school starts Libbie, Tim, Michael, Michael, Felix, Kate, Jennifer, Kirsty, Dave & Scott !
Buy apricots. Now.
When Tim Clinch and I discussed the first day’s shoot for the Food Photography Workshop this weekend, we both shouted , “Summer!”
These are summer moments, don’t put it off. Peaches, Tomatoes, Apricots. Too soon and these perfectly ripe fruit will be passé and you’ll have to make apricot jam. However, just now, these firm but juicy guys give their tart/sweet sunshine juice willingly yet still stand up to the hot fast baking, holding their shape and cradling their own juices mixed with thyme and drizzled honey.
This ‘variation on a tarte theme’ is my go-to summer/winter fruit dessert. The very good and forgiving French butter pastry is a snap to make. See my recipe for that here.
The fresh goat cheese base- creamy, slightly sweet, and beaten with an egg, is poured into the unbaked pastry and serves as a creamy blank canvas for the fruit. The surface is arranged with the apricots hollow side up to hold the juices and honey, dusted with some fresh thyme and popped in the hot (425′F/220′C) oven to bake for 25 minutes.
eh voila! I do this tarte over and over with peaches, plums, pears, figs…all the fresh stone fruit until the fall and then I switch to thinly sliced apples marinated in armagnac, cooked fruit, thick jam or just cream and honey. More good photographs like this one of the steps to make the tarte were taken by Mardi on the Food Photography Workshop and posted on her site here. Want the step by step recipe? Here it is… Read More
This is an Official Warning.
A shout to the Wild and Undisciplined Neighbors.
A call to arms to protect my brood, my working grrls & my critters-at-Camont.
When Mr. Fox, probably Mrs. Fox, too, attacked yet again my chicken yard, I knew that changes were in order. Out of 8, they left just our most reliable but ugliest hen and my new prized Black Gascon Rooster. This weekend will be a showdown of sorts and the gloves come off. Electric wires, flashing solar eyes, and reinforced heavy metal mesh fencing.
This is the less gentile side of living in the French countryside. But we need our eggs. They are the color of Camont.
We need our golden eggs for little goat’s cheese cakes, silky plum clafoutis, classic Tourteau de Chevre, Omelette Sucree Soufflée, and my go to summer lunch or tapas- a traditional Catalan Tortilla. Looking for more good ideas for eggs? Browse through my recipe page here and enjoy a golden dish flavored with real farm eggs. Buy from your farmers, markets and neighbors; their eggs are truly worth their weight in gold.
Ste. Poulette de Camont
It begins here, with two good ingredients.
Ham- Eric Ospital’s Ibaiona brand from the Basque Country.
Asparagus- local, just picked and carried to the market so fresh it snaps.
This week, my Kitchen Godmother, Vétou Pompele, came by for weekend breakfast (a decidedly not French event) and asked me what I would make for her.
I grabbed a copy of my first cookbook that chronicled my early days sailing on the Julia Hoyt and said,
“Your Asparagus and Ham dish, of course”.
She had forgotten about what was long one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy. When you cook everyday, EVERY DAY, that’s a lot of recipes under the bridge. We have both forgotten half of the wonderful dishes we cooked together over years of sailing the canals and rivers of France on the Julia Hoyt. This was always one of my Spring favorites, because unlike my life BF (Before France), asparagus is a once a year event, a few scant weeks of spear-ful delight. Read More