The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.
~T.S. Eliot

Again the cold weather is upon us, so the time has come to deceive, to create illusions of reality, in our kitchens.

Are our buns, hands, soles and toes really nestled in sandy beaches somewhere on this earth? Are we contemplating the vastness of cerulean seas and cobalt skies dotted with cirrus clouds?  Must be…right?  What a remarkably silly, selfless yet sybaritic trompe-l’oiel!  At the same time, these are food paeans to our tribal past.

Now, some find boudin noir or Créole repugnant because the process traditionally contains pork blood. Well, so do filets, porterhouses, shoulders, briskets, strips, rib eyes, loins, tenderloins, sirloins, flanks, chops, tuna, liver, rumps, chuck, blades, tri tips, shanks, et al. — many humans simply choose to ignore that bloody carnal embrace. Yes, Virginia, there is red ink, congealed or not, in them thar cuts. Their will be blood and/or myoglobin. Then again, boudin noir is not for everyone.

But, being an offal aficionado, this dark hued savory charcuterie (much like pâtés, rillettes, galantines, ballotines, confits, foie gras, jambons and friends) is revered and regaled here. If most homo sapiens are omnivorous, honor should be bestowed upon the animal that graces our tables by eating the deceased from nose to tail. Again, the “blood” in boudin noir is cooked as with many other cuts.

Consider serving this renascence next to a small splash of smashed or mashed potatoes or even fried or poached eggs and sliced sautéed chiles or a simple baguette and unsalted butter and top the sausages on a mesclun salad with a vinaigrette and some root vegetables. Better yet, choose to present shortly after dining on accras de morue (cod fritters — a post found here on February 11, 2010) and sauce chien with a glass of Viognier or Côtes de Provence rosé or une bière blonde.  As with most plates, the choices seem endless.

Often savored sautéed or grilled, boudin noir may seem quotidien, but is simply seraphic.

BOUDIN NOIR

4-5 blood sausages (from fine butchers — local + high quality)
1-2 T unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Sprigs of rosemary and thyme

1/3 C Calvados (apple brandy)
3/4 C heavy whipping cream
2 t Dijon mustard
2-3 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced somewhat thin

Grating of fresh nutmeg
Cinnamon stick
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Prick sausages in several spots with sharp knife or fork. Sauté over medium low heat in butter and olive oil (shimmering olive oil but the butter not browned) with rosemary and thyme, about 5-8 minutes, turning occasionally. Discard rosemary and thyme sprigs. Remove sausages from pan and place on heavy dish, tented, in very low oven while preparing sauce.

Remove and discard some of the excess fat from pan, turn heat to high and deglaze with Calvados, allowing to boil for about 30 seconds, then add apples, cooking them for a minute or so. Add the cream, mustard, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. Reduce cream and mustard and friends by half and finally ladle over or under the boudin noir, removed from the oven. Discard the cinnamon stick, by the way.

 

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The Table

January 15, 2009

The pleasures of the table are of all times and all ages, of every country and of every day; they can be associated with all the other pleasures and remain the last to console us for the loss of the rest.
~Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

The Table presides over your cuisine.

Even though food discussions often naturally begin at the market and then progress from the kitchen to plate, I feel the final resting place for your victuals deserves first mention.

Derived from the Latin “tabula,” meaning “plank” or “tablet,” The Table is sometimes relegated to that utilitarian flat surface in your home. Despite this drab definition, The Table serves a variety of functions. In its simplest form, The Table is a flat geometrically shaped slab top supported by legs. Yet add to that basic board candles, color, dishes, glasses, a sumptuous feast of food, bread and wine, and The Table becomes transformed into a theater set. Add the personae around (or even under) The Table from differing generations, traditions, families, intellects, social strata, cultures and backgrounds…then it morphs into a social sanctuary, a topless yurt for nomads with no reservations with the common goal of savoring your food in the simple company of humanity. Ambivalence and lethargy rarely reside at The Table; rather it becomes the grand leveller.

The Table has cradled young and old—ever teeming with laughter, tears, passion, glee, anger, celebrations, disunions, harmony, with both contentious and soothing words. Over several decades, my same table has been serving me a vivid, streaming kaleidoscope of remembrances. My fortune.

The Table not only recalls but creates memories…individual and communal…which will transform your life.