Those of you who have read my blog before know that I live in Gascony, SW France. You also know that I am completely mad about the cuisine of this gastronomic region. This is the home of Armangac and of all things duck. The food here is robust, it is rustic and it is hearty.
What I really respect is the notion of no waste. They use just about every morsel of a duck and they are far more open to offal of any sort on the whole than we Brits. They honour the animals by eating every last bit of them. Just as it should be.
There is a real sense of history and tradition here when it comes to food. Just this week I went for dinner at my neighbours house and they cooked me a Pot au Feu – in a stunning weathered black pot hanging right over the burning logs of their open fire. Such a simple dish but utterly delicious. They offered up 5 different cuts of beef, braised for 5 hours with unfussy chunks of vegetables. Honestly, I was in heaven.
Another such local speciality on my Winter wonder food list is Garbure – a sort of cross between a soup and a stew. Traditionally made with shredded confit duck meat and loaded with vegetables and haricot beans. It is so easy to make and will surprise you with it’s depth of flavour. Not to mention that it is cheap to make and goes an awfully long way.
It’s a dish that would have been cooked in a big pot over the fire which could bubble away for hours, adding whatever bits and bobs of vegetables there was depending on the season. A peasant dish, undoubtedly made over and over again in the farmhouse kitchens of the many old houses round these parts. A dish that has stood the test of time and for good reason.
I have in fact posted my own recipe for traditional Garbure on here before, a long time ago. And so this time, I decided to somewhat re-invent it. It occurred to me that those of you living in the UK might find some of my recipes hard to make as the ingredients are not so readily available for you. Confit duck is everywhere here, bought in a tin, it is almost a ready meal! But I am guessing that it might be expensive and hard to find back in England…
So, why not make a Garbure using chicken? I was a little worried that it might not have the same powerful flavour without the duck, so I opted to add lots of garlic and rosemary. I used the shredded meat from two leftover chicken legs and by the time I had crammed the pot full with bacon, onions, potatoes, leek, cabbage, peas and haricot beans, the resulting Chicken Garbure gave me 8 hearty portions!
Trust me on this one, what might seem to be just a big pot with various stuff thrown in with not much thought, is in fact one of the most delicious, value for money, and comforting dishes I know. A Gascon great – this is Winter super food at it’s best.
1 tbsp duck fat (if you don’t have it then olive oil will do)
1 onion, chopped
200g smoked lardons
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
200g new potatoes, cut into bite size chunks
1 leek, sliced
2 litres of chicken stock
1/4 of savoy cabbage, finely sliced
800g can of haricot blanc beans (could substitute cannellini beans)
2 cooked chicken legs, meat shredded from the bones
3 handfuls of frozen peas
2 heaped tbsp of creme fraiche
In a large pot, heat your duck fat and fry your onion and lardons for 5 minutes. Then add your garlic and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes until it all smells divine.
Add your new potatoes and leek and pour in the chicken stock. Leave to gently simmer for 25 minutes.
Once the potatoes are cooked through, add your cabbage, beans, peas and chicken and heat through for 5 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche and serve,.
This soup will keep in the fridge quite happily for a few days.
I am entering this recipe into a competition Destinology Reimagine a Classic competition. I think my chicken Garbure fits the bill.