25 December 2012

Ho ho ho

Christmas morning. Windy and rainy outside. I'll get my walk with the dog anyway; she doesn't really care unless rain is absolutely pouring down. They say it will be rainy and blustery outside all day. But it's not cold.

Un coq de la race « géline de Touraine »
A géline de Touraine rooster
Thanks to www.gelinedetouraine.fr for use of the photo

We haven't cooked Christmas dinner yet, so I can't show pictures of that. I'll just show you the main ingredients. The "undressed" géline (if you know what I mean) weighed about 2 kg, which is 4½ lbs., and cost 30 euros. That would be 6.67 euros, or nearly $9 U.S., per pound.

You pay for the undressed bird — head, feet, feathers, and all — and then the butcher "dresses" it (il prépare la volaille), so what you get weighs less. This one weighs just under 3¾ lbs. as pictured. I haven't yet looked inside to see if we got any giblets (abats in French).

The chestnuts for the stuffing, and the bird we will stuff them into

Chestnuts are complicated in French, linguistically. They're called châtaignes [shah-TEH-nyuh], botanically, and the tree is the châtaignier [shah-teh-NYAY]. There's another tree called a maronnier [mah-ruh-NYAY] that we call a horse chestnut or buckeye tree, and its fruit is the marron [mah-RÕ] — with the French R and the nasal O vowel — which is not edible for humans.

But in cooking terms, châtaignes are commonly called marrons, so you get sweet treats like crème de marrons and marrons glacés, which are really châtaignes. The tin labeled « Marrons Entiers » actually and technically contains châtaignes. Got that? I'm not sure I have. As CHM says, the simplicity of the French language is stunning to behold.

Here's the stuffing recipe I'm going to (more or less) follow:
200 g de lardons fumés
1 oignon
2 gousses d'ail
une poignée de chapelure
deux brins de feuilles de sauge
sel et poivre
une pincée de clou de girofle moulu
une pincée de noix muscade
10 ou 12 petits champignons de Paris
le foie de la volaille
1 bocal (ou boîte) de châtaignes (500 g)
150 cl de crème fraîche
2 œufs
Got that?


  1. It's because marrons in culinary and cultivation terms (as opposed to botanical) are a slightly different variety of sweet chestnut -- not a different species like the horse chestnut, with 'nuts' also known as marrons. It is very confusing, as you say. The two types of sweet chestnut can be distinguished by how the 'nuts' divide up inside their prickly outer case I believe -- I've never really tried to figure it out exactly, but I think that marrons are the varieties with more small 'nuts' and chataîgnes are the ones with just 1-3 big 'nuts'.

  2. Happy Chrismas Ken... has your bird got a numbered metal clip on the wing... it should have.

    I think you might have got it the wrong way round Susan... no one would bother peeling lots of little marrons.... and given the size of the nuts in the tins or bottles in our case [re-usable], they are normal 1-2 nuts per prickly beast.

    The size of the nut is more weather dependant than variety... here we are at the top edge of good fruit... don't forget the tree was also called the Spanish Chestnut...

    The tree is one of the best timber trees going... wonderfully straight grained.

  3. I think it might be the opposite, Susan. Wild châtaignes have more subdivisions within the pod, and the cultivated varieties of châtaigniers that produce the fruits called marrons have fewer (or just one) but larger "nuts" within the spiny pods.

    Here's the Wiki article on the question. The horse chestnut tree is called a marronnier d'Inde and the fruit the marron d'Inde.

  4. Most Popular and Famous Vehicles, Latest Speed Cars, Sports Cars Info and Pictures.

  5. Speaking of old chestnuts, I had a French official trot out "French is the world's most precise language" while trying to get some EU paperwork signed a few weeks ago. I have a suspicion that this is being taught in schools here.

  6. Mike, I think you are right. I remember when I was growing up in the U.S. we had history books that taught us things like "America is great because America is good." It's the same idea. It's propaganda, or cultural received ideas. There's no empiral way to verify or refute the affirmation.

  7. Merry Christmas, Tim and Pauline, Mike and Gustav, Susan and Simon. We ate half of the delicious Touraine chicken. I think flavoring it with sage from the garden was a very good idea.

  8. I love the recipe : a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
    I hope you had a great giftmas day!

  9. Merry Christmas, Ken, Walt, Nadege, Susan, Tim, Mike, and all!

    That géline does look a little different than what we're used to, doesn't it? The wing side looks more plump somehow.

    Thanks for the lessons on chestnuts... something I didn't realize.


  10. Happy Christmas to you too, Nadège, Judith, and OhioFarmGirl. I'll report more on the géline tomorrow.


  11. Ken

    It was snowing last Friday ( was expecting 35 cm but got only 5cm) and it snowed again on Saturday . We were supposed to get 20 cms yesterday but it was a dud as the mercury came down a lot .

    We had our Xmas turkey for lunch awhile ago and Y did it on the BBQ ( it was cold outside but not windy) and a stuffing similar like yours except that I spent nearly 1 hour yesterday peeling the chestnuts. Instead of lardon i had a mix of minced veal and chicken liver.

    So we are having a white Christmas - we are lucky :-)

    Enjoy your Xmas dinner. Looking forward to read about it tomorrow.

  12. A slightly belated Merry Christmas from New Bern, Ken. I had planned to serve my guests today a chicken roasted "French style (per one of my cookbooks) but in all the supermarkets in town yesterday I couldn't find a single roasting hen. Harris-Teeter did have a capon for $30 but I passed and went for a small fresh turkey instead. Now your €30 chicken makes me think H-T wasn't as bad as I thought! Happy 2013.

    Libbie in NB NC

  13. Hello, new follower here and I’d like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:


    I hope you can make it!


    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?