Chabro or Drunken Broth

Chabro or Drunken Broth


Faire chabro is an ancient custom that is still very much in practice in the Southwest of France. It consists in adding about 1/3 of a glass of red wine to your soup plate once you have eaten two thirds of your broth. The proportions are very subjective to your taste, however you need to know that it would be totally unappropriate to pour your full glass of wine into the full plate of soup! Chabro needs, and is best with, a pungent broth. It is divine with the broth of a pot roast, a poule au pot, a strong consommé or a garburo. It is very important to drink it the way it is demonstrated by my older son Joseph (above) and my husband Pierre Joris, (below) — that is, to sip directly from the plate.
Frederic Mistral gives a Latin origin to the expression faire chabro. It would come from  cabroù (goat in provencal) derived from the Latin capreolus and would mean: to drink like a goat. In our family we always observe this tradition but only when the broth is  worth it and no matter where we are.

This specific occasion occurred at the excellent traditional hotel-restaurant La Rencluse is Saint-Mamet, where their broth (and food in general) is always outstanding. Jean-Marc and Françoise Chaléon are long time friends and very dedicated hoteliers-restaurateurs. Jean-Marc’s father, Pierrot Chaléon, had also apprenticed with my grandfather Joseph Peyrafitte. To this day there is still some reminiscing tastes of my grandfather’s recipes. I usually make several visit to their restaurant and mostly eat the menu du jour. It is a great deal and always good. Joseph and Yoori had some of the à la carte dishes. Yoori loved her escargots and Joseph the smoked salmon oeuf cocotte. Enjoy the pix and if you come to visit la Rencluse tell them Nicole sent you! I urge you to try to faire chabro if you haven’t already. Ah! & one more thing: it is very important to add one, or two, twists of fresh ground pepper before sipping it.

Pyrenean Fast Food!

Pyrenean Fast Food!


The other evening we fell into an aperitif trapère! We stopped at our favorite local bar-restaurant “Le Faisant Doré” to meet my brother Jean-Louis to have an apéritif (before dinner drink) before making our way back up to the montains with our good friends Peter Cockelberg and his wife Delphine Grave for dinner. The one drink turned out to be a round per person. Jean-Louis was already sitting there with his 2 good buddies, that made a total of 7!  Thanks god I was drinking small ballons de rosé & managed to skip a few. It is always one of my great pleasure to hang out with my bro, he is the funniest and the most entertaining guy. Not really a politically correctest dude, but I adore him and put up with his most salacious & sarcastic comments!

Anyhow we safely returned to the mountains and managed to cook dinner in a flash. Again, no time to wait for the fire to make enough embers to slowly cook the beautiful slab of veal from chez Jammes. I pulled out my frying pan and cooked it all on the open fire.

Tranche de Veau Sauce à l’Ail et au Basilic
Pan fried veal with basil & garlic cream sauce
Tomates Provençales
Pan fried tomatoes with persillade


Render enough fatback (see previous blog) to lightly coat the pan and cook the meat medium. Reserve and keep covered in a hollow dish.

In the same pan render a little more fatback add the tomatoes cut in half or quartered, depending on their size. Add the persillade when the tomatoes are almost done, sauté a few minutes and reserve.


Still in the same pan, add some brandy and flambé. Add the juices that have rendered in the meat dish. Add one cup of heavy cream, the garlic and let boil on the fire. Once the cream starts thickening add the freshly (at the last minute or it will darken) chopped basil. Boil a few more seconds, add salt, pepper and some ground piment d’Espelette (see last blog). Pour the sauce over the meat and voilà! Eat and lick your plate!

Veal Tomates

Duck Hearts, Trouts, Kanoon & More

Duck Hearts, Trouts, Kanoon & More


A few years back Pierre and I bought a kanoon — from the arabic:  قانون, kanoûnqanoûn or kanun— at a Luchon street fair. It is a North African clay brasero for cooking with charcoal. It makes great tagines and it is very convenient when we have no time to make a big fire in the fire place or when the weather is really hot.  Monday I used it to cook our entire meal that consisted of local offerings from the Luchon market:
Hors d’Oeuvres:
Hure de porc or pig’s head paté (Martial Vargas)
Paté de truite with chives (Pisciculture d’ Oô)
First Course:
Hearts of duck salad (Lazorthes, a.k.a. “Caniche”)
Purchasing duck hearts at Mr. Lazorthes standduck hearts

Main Course:
Mountain trout from the pisciculture de Oô (see last year’s post for another recipe made with these excellent trout)
Potatoes, beets & broad beans  (Madame Fondeville)
DSCN3957on the kaloon

Cheese & Dessert:
Goat cheese (Alain Garcia a.k.a  Emingo)
Mara des bois strawberries in red wine & honey
DSCN3978Alain Garcia
Pierre fired the kanoon with lots of charcoal to have enough to cook the whole meal in it.
First I cooked the veggies in a cast iron pot. Instead of using oil I used the incredibly tasty salted fatback the Jammes gave
me as a present when I went to get the lamb (see previous post).
Fat back from bourg d'oueil
I rendered half a cup of fat and added potatoes, beets, salt & lots of black pepper and set it on the kanoon for about ½ hour. I added the beans later, as they take less time. When cooked, I reserved the veggies and set them aside.
Meanwhile I had cut the duck hearts in half. These hearts where beautiful. They were bright red & so fresh. I placed my special open fire frying pan on the kanoon and again melted some fatback. Once the fat had rendered and the pan was very hot I added the hearts and fried them until cooked but still pinkish. Be careful: overcooked hearts get unpleasantly rubbery. At the end I added a generous persillade and served them warm on top of a very lightly dressed salad.
While we ate the salad I tightly fit five trouts in the tagine dish. I coated the trouts with olive oil in which I had soaked garlic cloves and added the cloves too. I topped the whole thing with “new” onions, one quartered lemon, salt and & piment d’Espelette —that is, a very popular chili that grows in the the Basque country and is fragrant and not too spicy. The trout cooked while we ate the  delicious hearts of duck salad. We waited for them a little, but who cares when the Tariquet Rosé & the conversation are flowing!
I very much like the combination of the hearty veggies and the delicate trouts, thought the trouts could have been a little spicier.
We opened the red Saint Mont wine to accompany my favorite local goat cheese made by my good friend Alain Garcia (see picture above). The dessert was a nice conclusion to our meal — sorry I didn’t take any pictures but I was too involved with the company!
Voilà! for now as I am off to visit my dad (87!) at the local physical rehab center where he just arrived after  successful complex back surgery that
will hopefully  allow him to walk better… I teased him today that if he keeps progressing as fast as he does, he might even be ready for soccer season! (before being an hotelier & a politician — mayor & senator — he was the regional star soccer player)!
More soon and thanks for following our summer adventures!

Bourg d’Oueil 2009

Bourg d’Oueil 2009


Bourg d’Oueil is a very small village in the central Pyrenees where I escape to every time I can. It is located in the secluded valley of Oueil, 10 miles from Luchon —where I was born and raised— at 4600 feet high. Today the village counts about 10 full time residents. There is one good old fashioned hotel-restaurant “Le Sapin Fleuri” and only one family that still breeds sheep (about 2000 at a time) and a few cows. The rest of the population either works in the town of Luchon or are people like us coming for vacation.
Going to the farm to get lamb is one of the great pleasures and that is what we do as soon as we get there. The first call I make is to Henri Jammes to order 1/2 lamb for our stay (see photo below). Their name is
probably of Basque origin, we tease them a lot and pronounce their name the English way, especially Henri! Henri, Roland, Jeremy (Henri’s son) & Marie Jeanne run the family farm. I used to take Gascon lessons with the father, François Jammes, sadly he passed away this winter at the very honorable age of 89. I really  miss hanging out with him this year.
My connection to the village goes way back. The chef and co-owner of the “Sapin Fleuri”, Jean Toucouère, apprenticed cooking under my grand father. Joseph Garces, Maitre d’H for 15 years at the family hotel, whom I consider family, is also from Bourg. In 2002 he lend me his barn for 2 weeks and it is at that time that we decided to try get a place there. An other event of significant importance for me is that it was in Bourg d’Oueil in 1971 that I earned my first and only victory in a ski race!

In the summer the sheep are in the mountains above the village. While Roland Jammes cuts the hay with Jeremy, Henri is the shepherd. They used to hire a summer shepherd but in the past few years they do it all by themselves. I feel like they are working way before I wake up and way after sundown. So we are here for a few weeks and to sum up how I feel I will say: this place makes sense to me!



La Blanquette d’Agneau

La Blanquette d’Agneau


La Blanquette is a dish inscribed in the tradition of French “cuisine bourgeoise”. My mother, Renée Peyrafitte-Gallot makes a very good one and serves it for lunch over rice. The term blanquette comes from the word “blanc” or white. It is a stew in a white sauce that can be made either from veal or lamb. The same sauce can be used for poultry but then it would be a Fricassée. French historian Jean-Louis Flandrin dedicated a lecture to that dish and a book was published posthumously —I came across this reference through the excellent French food blog: ” Boire et Manger, quelle histoire ! “.
Enjoy the Blanquette!

Blanquette d’ Agneau
for 4 (this is a variation inspired by James Beard and my mother’s recipe)

2 ½ pounds of lamb shoulder cut into 2-inch cubes
1 onion “nailed” with 2 cloves (see pix below)

1 carrot
salt & pepper
1 sprig of thyme or better a bouquet garni
1 pound mushrooms
about 8 tablespoons of butter
lemon Juice
about 20 small white onions
4 tablespoons of flour
2 egg yolks
½ cup of heavy cream

Rub the meat with lemon. Place the meat cubes in a stewing pan with the onion stuck with the two cloves, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the bouquet garni and freshly ground pepper. Cover with cold water. When it comes to boil, reduce heat, put a lid on the pan and simmer gently until the meat is tender -about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour. Skim the broth a few times.


Meanwhile, cut up the mushrooms, sauté gently in butter, add a dash of lemon juice, cook until just tender and reserve. Peel the onions and cook them until barely done; they have to remain firm.
When the meat is tender, remove it to a hot platter and keep it warm. Let the broth from the meat reduce down to two cups over a brisk flame for 5 minutes and then strain it. Add the liquid from the onions and the juices from the mushrooms. If you do not have enough liquid, add some chicken or vegetable stock.
In a sauce pan melt 4 tablespoons of butter and blend in the flour (you are making a roux). Gradually stir in the stock, and continue stirring until the sauce is consistent. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Beat the egg yolks and mix them with the heavy cream. Add to the sauce and stir until heated through, but do not let boil or the egg will curdle. Add a dash of lemon juice, put in onions and mushrooms and pour the sauce over the meat.
Serve with steamed rice or rice pilaf.