25 December 2010

Preparing Christmas Dinner

Walt wrote this morning about our trip to the market in Montrichard yesterday. It was cold and it was snowing big flakes, but there was really no snow on the ground. There were fewer vendors than usual, but there were plenty of shoppers.

The only places where we had to wait in line were the poultry vendor's and the boulangerie. Walt did one and I did the other. At the poultry vendor's, it took longer than it would have if both the vendor's scales hadn't decided to crash while I was waiting.

Here's the Christmas Eve fondue with Auvergne cheeses.

They are electonic scales, the kind where you enter the price per kilogram and set the product on the scale to weigh it and calculate the price. The people staffing the stand were lost without them, and there was quite a bit of resetting, watching the scales go through their reboot processes and self tests, and, I have to say, quite a bit of grumbling and cursing too.

The vendor we buy poultry from is the Société Malbran-Clément,
with its processing facility in the village of Pouillé
between Saint-Aignan and Montrichard.

Finally one scale started working again so things could start moving forward. The woman in line behind me looked at me and said: « Je pense que ça va être gratuit aujourd'hui. » — I think it's going to be free today. I told her: « Oui, mais c'est Noël, après tout ! » — Yes, but after all, it is Christmas!"

Here's the turkey, freshly butchered and prepared for roasting.

Along with the turkey — 3.5 kilos for about 25 euros — I bought a pound of fresh chicken livers to put in the stuffing (cornbread, sausage meat, livers, onions, celery, and green pepper). Despite the cursing of the scales, everybody was in a cheerful mood. The people we buy poultry from are local, do their own processing and prepping, and have very fine products.

Duck foie gras — it's the whole liver
cooked with wine and seasonings.

The other thing we're having for our Christmas dinner, besides turkey, cornbread stuffing (which is not French but which I love), Brussels sprouts, and pommes dauphinoises, is some foie gras. That's the liver of a fattened duck or goose.

This liver is cooked with a little Jurançon wine
from down near the Pyrénées.

Ours is duck liver foie gras. They sell tons of it here at Christmastime, and I'm sure France must be the country in the world where the most foie gras is consumed. We'll have it as an appetizer before the turkey and trimmings. We'll spread it on toasted pain d'épices, a kind of ginger bread or spice bread made with honey and spices.

Pain d'épices, a French specialty

That might sound strange — duck liver on ginger bread — but that's what you have with foie gras: something sweet. Not cloyingly sweet, but sweetish. It can be figs, or prunes, or other fruit, raw or cooked. It can be the pain d'épices. Or it can be a sweet white wine like Sauternes, Montbazillac, Vouvray, or Alsatian Gewürtztraminer.

Okay, I have to go prepare the turkey and stuffing for the oven now. We trimmed up the Brussels sprouts and cooked some potatoes for the pommes dauphines yesterday, so we got a head start. I cooked cornbread — cornpone, actually — day before yesterday so that it would have time to dry out some. And I made the cornpone using some duck fat rather than butter, because I thought that would go well in the stuffing.


  1. Your Xmas dinner looks and sounds absolutely scrumptious! I wish I were there for a few crumbs.

    Merry Xmas to everyone!

    How strange my word verification is paling! Ken will understand why it is so strange! LOL

  2. Happy Crimbo. The timing of your Christmas meal may be non-standard, but the basic ingredients are what most French people will be having I think.

  3. Wish I could add to your table some of the delectables I have baked for
    Christmastide. A very blessed holyday to you and
    Walt and a New Year filled
    with good health and well-being. Many thanks for your
    contribution to the good life through your blog.
    New Bern NC Mary

  4. Merry day :)) Cornbread stuffing made with duckfat sounds like it will be mighty tasty, indeed. Great pot-o-cheese-fondue, too!


  5. Happy Christmas Ken, hope you and Walt had a great day and we wish you the best of New Years.

  6. Merry Christmas Ken and Walt... I hope you enjoyed your turkey.. the raw beast looks superb, lovely shape.
    I agree with you about foie gras. Our local butcher does a superb paté en croute with a roundel of foie gras running down the middle. We have some in the fridge for our lunch tomorrow.
    I par-cooked our sprouts yesterday... and then finished them off by frying them up in a bit of walnut oil along with a finely chopped cuisse de poule and a whole pot of cooked chestnuts. Something I've had since childhood and Christmas doesn't seem right without it. [And I save it for Christmas day only!]

    Word verification is Leogis... a five lion hotel ?

  7. Jean and Tim, hope you have a happy Boxing Day. I think somebody might be on the road all day today, no? Tim, the sprouts sound really good fixed that way. We just panned ours in butter after they had been parboiled.

    Susan, I think about the only unusual part of our Christmas dinner was the cornbread stuffing. I love being able to get cornmeal (polenta) at ParisStore. Hope your lamb was good.

    Judy, did I thank you for the Streisand songs? I think I did, but just in case. Hope you had a nice Christmas Day despite the snow you said was predicted.

  8. Glad you are enjoying them, Ken :) (And, yes, you thanked me in your email:)

    Christmas day was great!


  9. Bonjour,
    En cherchant sur internet je suis tombé sur une image de la sarl Malbran clement et j'ai traduit votre page.
    je suis la fille des gérants et nous vous remercions de ce que vous avez inscrit, pour nous cela est de la bonne publicité et malgrés quelques désagrément a cause des balances nous sommes content de voir que nos clients aprécient la qualité de nos produits.
    Melle Clement

  10. Bonjour Melle Clément,

    Les produits que vous vendez aux marchés de Saint-Aignan et de Montrichard sont toujours d'une qualité et d'une finesse exemplaires, et je veux que les lecteurs de mon blog les connaissent. Merci pour votre gentil commentaire.

    Ken Broahdurst (à Mareuil)


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