31 March 2015

Gusty winds, and a salad

One week ago today my plane coming from Atlanta was getting ready to land in Paris. I'm glad it was a week ago and not today, because today we are having a major windstorm. This morning, strong gusts are howling under the eaves of the house and through the big conifers in our yard. How long is this supposed to last? March is going out like a lion after all.

Yesterday's lunch was a salad — a very French salad containing chicken gizzards, sautéed potatoes, and lettuce — and topped with a poached egg. For us, it serves two as a main course. It could easily serve four as a starter course in a more elaborate meal.

In France, we can buy chicken livers or gizzards — or duck gizzards — in vacuum-sealed packages at the supermarket. They are slow-cooked and tender. That kind of slow cooking, to make what is called gésiers confits, is especially needed for the gizzards, which are otherwise a tough muscle and not an organ like the liver. They are cooked in duck fat, which gives good flavor.

A package of gizzards like this one costs between 2 and 3 euros.

The first step in making this salad is to peel and dice up three or four potatoes. Toss them in vegetable oil (add some of the duck fat from the package of gizzards, again for flavor) in an oven-proof dish and set the dish in a very hot oven until the potatoes are cooked through and nicely browned. It will take 20 minutes or or longer, and you should stir the potatoes after they start to brown on top.

To make the salad, first make a vinaigrette dressing in the bottom of a big bowl with one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of wine or cider vinegar, some salt and pepper, and three tablespoons of olive or other vegetable oil. Tear six or eight washed lettuce leaves into big pieces and toss them in the dressing.

Quickly sauté the gizzards in a skillet in some of the duck fat they're packed in. They're cooked when you buy them, so you just want to give them some color. As they brown, in a separate pot or pan, poach or soft-fry one egg per person being served.

Spread the dressed salad leaves out in a wide flat bowl. Top them with the gizzards and the sautéed potatoes. Top each plate of salad with a poached or fried egg. If there is a little bit of vinaigrette left in the salad bown, you can serve that with the salad too. All you need otherwise is wine and bread.

You could make the same kind of salad with chunks of sautéed chicken breast or another meat, fish, or vegetable.


  1. My favourite offal salad!
    And, served warrum...
    just the ticket on a day like this!
    We are currently experiencing driving drizzle...
    can barely see the other side of the valley....
    the chooks can stay cooped up for a little while longer, methinks.
    March is marching out like a lion!!

  2. I wish we could get cooked gizzards in the US; we'd have them more often. Cooked beets, like you can get in France, would be nice too.

    1. Being able to get the cooked gizzards and livers is nice here. As for beets, some people say the pre-cooked (steamed, I assume) ones that you find in France are not as good as ones you buy fresh and roast in your own oven. I'm not sure about the difference. Assuming you put some red wine or other vinegar on the pre-cooked ones, they are good-tasting to me.

    2. When in Southern California, I used to buy fresh beets and cook them in the oven wrapped in foil and, once sliced, keep them in olive oil. Of course, no comparison with the canned ones!

      When in Paris, I bought the precooked beets at the open air market. Not being wrapped in plastic as the ones I now buy at Monoprix, they were much better tasting. I think boiling them waters down the taste au propre et au figuré.

    3. I like the ones that are cooked but not shrink-wrapped. I wonder if they are boiled or just steamed, and whether that makes a difference. With either kind, however, the addition of some red wine vinegar really enhances the taste. As for the canned ones, well, no thanks.

  3. As I understand it, vrai ou faux, the ones I bought at the market were cooked sous la braise. They were very tasty. Il n'y a que la foi qui sauve!

    1. Sometimes I think the mind decides whether something will taste good or not before the tongue has had a chance to do its job. Such is the power of suggestion (a.k.a. advertising). Souvent c'est la foi qui sauve et le foie qui trinque...


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