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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Macreuse de Bœuf - One of the Tastiest Steaks on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Macreuse de bœuf.

The steak called a macreuse à biftek in French supermarkets is nearly always called a macreuse de bœuf on French menu listings, and there is no similar cut on USA or UK menus, outside of a real French restaurant.  Back in France chefs have to learn nearly as much as a butcher to graduate and they have knowledgeable customers who expect economic but very flavorful cuts in restaurants as well as butcher's shops and supermarkets. 

This macreuse à biftek comes from the same place North American and UK chuck,  the shoulder, but the French cut it differently. Chuck steak are cut across and combine different tastes and textures which, however, if cut like the French it can provide a steak with a bigger bang for the buck.

The cut.

Talking to a butcher in the US showed me that better cuts, which are rarely seen, are available.  They include the chuck tender steak, the shoulder petite tender, the chuck eye steak, and the flat-iron steak. Despite his research, this helpful expert couldn’t give a name for a US cut like the macreus à bifteck in France.

Macreuse a bifteck on French menus:
Macreuse de Bœuf, à l'Echalote et Poivre Vert  - A macreuse pepper steak prepared with shallots and green pepper.  Controlling the taste of a dish with black pepper is not easy, so when French chefs prepare a pepper steak they prefer green pepper that allows a controllable heat.

Grilling macreuse de bœuf,

Macreuse de Bœuf Cuite 6 h, Bacon de Sanglier des Bois et Champignons Sauvages - A macreuse steak slowly cooked for six hours and prepared with bacon from a wild boar from the woods and wild mushrooms. A steak like this will have been seared on the outside and the allowed to cook at a low temperature for over six hours; the result will be a steak with all the flavor locked in and a texture that will almost melt in your mouth.  France farm-raises wild boar, and it is available all year round but this menu listing tells the diner that this is wild boar from the woods and real wild boar have a much stronger flavor. (For flavorful wild mushrooms in the season the cèpe, the French porcini mushroom fit the bill).

Wild boar populations are ever expanding, and they do not just stay in the woods and forests that cover over 25% of mainland France. At night the wild boar come out, and in addition to eating the crops in the fields they also tear the grapes from vines and you can't expect the French to allow them to consume the source of their wines.    Even though wild boar can be hunted nearly all year round their populations keep on growing and they cause over 30,000 car accidents every year that include fatalities.  To ensure consumer safety every single wild boar must have its meat tested in a government approved laboratory before it can be served in a restaurant or home and this steak dish with wild boar bacon, wild mushrooms, will be making a memorable dish.

Watch out when you are driving in the French countryside.
Photograph courtesy of Nadine.

Macreuse de Bœuf, Légumes Racines Confits – A macreuse steak accompanied by root vegetables that have been slowly cooked with a slightly sweetened wine or balsamic vinegar.  In North America and the UK, root vegetables are often overlooked or consigned to soups with only the celebrity chefs taking them out of the heirloom vegetable cupboard.  In France from the smallest restaurant to the bistros and brassieres and up on to the three-star Michelin Guide restaurants parsnips, turnips and Swedes (rutabaga)  will be on many of their menus, these are tasty vegetables and a welcome addition to the ubiquitous peas, green beans, and carrots.
Macreuse de Bœuf Sauce au Poivre et Whisky, Salade Composée, Vinaigrette au Cidre et Frites A macreuse steak prepared in a pepper and Scotch whisky sauce served with a salad made with a cider vinaigrette and French fries.

Macreuse de Bœuf, Sauce Béarnaise Purée de Panais et Legumes Grillé – A macreuse chuck steak served with Sauce Béarnaise and accompanied by a parsnip puree and grilled vegetables. Sauce Béarnaise has been topping France and the world's sauce popularity polls for nearly two-hundred years. It is one of the few sauces that may be served with steaks and roasts as well as salmon and vegetables.  In 1830 the chef Louis Françoise-Collinet took the recipe for Sauce Hollandaise, omitted the lemon juice and added white wine vinegar, shallots, chervil, and tarragon and made Sauce Béarnaise. It's the tarragon and white wine vinegar that change the Hollandaise base and supply the tang that makes us Sauce Béarnaise devotees.

Steak Tatare is often made with the macreuse à biftek
Photograph courtesy of Le journal des Femmes

Don’t waste your time looking up macreuse steaks in a dictionary because it won’t help. Macreuse in French translates as scoter and scoter is the name for a family of ducks; in today's France, the macreuse on your menus will be a steak and not a canard, a duck.   Despite that, Alexander Dumas (père) who is most well-known for his books that include the Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo was also a gourmand, and in 1870 he published an over one thousand page Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, his grand dictionary of cuisine.  The wild scoter duck was very popular at the time and there are at least six recipes Alexander Dumas's dictionary.  Members of this duck family may be hunted during a one month season, but I've never seen one on a menu.

Scoter (macreuse) ducks.

If you live in France and want this tasty and economic steak read the description in the supermarket or at the butchers carefully.  There is a second cut called a macreuse à pot-au-feu which as its name describes is for stewing.  The traditional pot-au-feu includes beef, marrow bones, carrots, turnips, leeks, celery, onions, potatoes, a clove-studded onion, garlic, and a bouquet garni and one of the cuts of beef will always be the macreuse à pot-au- feu. Pot-a- feus may be on menus as Baeckeoffes, Garbures and other local names where the ingredients are often pork based with beef added as an afterthought.

If you have a butcher, who does not only sell hunks of beef that he or she receives already packaged in cellophane ask what different steak cuts he or she can offer from the whole chuck and brisket, and not just the all-inclusive chuck steak. Who knows you may have found someone who knows how to cut steaks.

Connected Posts:


Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google. Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 450 articles that include over 4,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.
Bryan G Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2018.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Petit Bisous to Petite Marmite. Food Names on French Menus With the Prefix Petit or Petite in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Petit Bisous – Little Kisses.

Petit or Petite – Little or small.

This post is about foods and food products that have names that include the words Petit or Petite.  (For more about the usage and pronunciation of petit and petite see the final paragraphs in this post).

Names that include Petit and Petite on French menus:
Petit Bisous – Little kisses; small sweet biscuits or bite-sized servings.

Petit-beurre - The petit beurre biscuit.  True to its name, this biscuit, which translates as little butter is made with very little butter; however, there is plenty of sugar in the recipe.  The biscuit's creation is claimed by Nantes, the capital of the department of Loire-Atlantique in the region of the Pays de la Loire.

According to a well-founded tradition, a Mr. Louis Lefèvre-Utilem who owned a small pâtisserie created the petit-beurre biscuit in the late 19th century; his biscuit would bring additional fame to that beautiful city. (see Baba au Rhum).

Petit-beurre biscuits.
The picture shows the L U mark, the initials of Mr. Louis Lefèvre-Utilem
Petit Déjeuner – Breakfast.  Breakfast in a French private home is most often a baguette or another bread, hopefully, fresh that morning, possibly toasted but certainly buttered.   In the larger towns and cities, a buttered baguette will be behind the traditional Tartine Beurrée, that may be offered with marmalade or another preserve and accompanied by the most popular French breakfast drink which is a large café au lait, a very milky coffee.  Croissants  are usually saved for weekend breakfasts.  (see Café, Café Crème, and Tartine).

Some of the most memorable breakfasts I have ever had have been hotel breakfasts in France.   One, which comes to mind, from a bank of pleasant memories, was at a small hotel in Paris. We ordered our breakfast the night before for 8:30 am.  At 8:20 am we were called on the telephone to advise that coffee would be coming in ten minutes; time to organize ourselves I suppose.  Exactly ten minutes later there was a knock on the door and following my entré, enter, a waiter entered with a tray carrying two cafés au lait and two French newspapers; these were delivered to our bedside.  Our breakfast followed another 10 minutes later; another knock,  another entré, and in came a waitress pushing a beautiful antique trolley holding shining silverware, starched  table linens, freshly squeezed orange juice, English tea with cold milk as requested, fried eggs for me, warm croissants and a still warm baguette, cut, buttered and with marmalade on the side.

Along with all this came, a huge bowl of flowers and a small bowl of fresh grapes (along with a finger bowl); a gift of the house.  The waitress pulled out the sides of her trolley, created a small table, arranged our breakfast, set two chairs, next to the table and with a slight curtsy left.  As you may imagine everything at breakfast was outstanding; I forgave them the lack of an English language newspaper.

The French can make a room-service breakfast much more civilized than many other nations do. In most of my US experiences with hotels of a similar classification the room service breakfast will include cold toast, de-frozen orange juice, lukewarm coffee, and soggy scrambled eggs.

Delivering breakfast in bed.
Petit-déjeuner Buffet –A buffet breakfast. (Déjeuner is lunch, and dîner is diner).

Petit-déjeuner Enfant – A child’s breakfast. Usually, a French hotel’s children’s breakfast menu will offer cereal, a glass of milk and or fruit juice and occasionally fresh fruit.

Petit Épeautre – Wild Einkorn, Einkorn or Small Spelt. Small spelt is another small grain and an ancient family member of modern wheat; it is also grown in Provence and a few other places in Europe. It may brighten up the menu with something not seen every day.
To the left regular wheat, to the right small spelt.

Petit Farcis Niçois  - A traditional Niçoise dish of stuffed vegetables. Depending on the season you will be served a plate of stuffed courgettes, aubergines, bell peppers and or tomatoes.  The vegetables will be stuffed with chopped pork, veal, and rice and flavored with fresh herbs. The dish will usually be sprinkled with grated parmesan or gruyere cheese and browned under the grill before serving. (Cusine Niçoise also called Cuisine Nissarde is the Cuisine from the City of Nice on France’s Mediterranean coast).

Petit Gris – The small gray; the popular small escargot, the smaller of France two popular edible snails; the other larger snail is the Escargot de Bourgogne. The Petit Gris has many local names including Lumas, Chagriné, Carsaulada, La Zigrinata, and Cargouille.

Petit Gris - One of the names used for the gray agaric or gray knight mushroom more usually called the griset.  

Petit Pan A bread roll.

Petit Poisson de Roche - Small fish. The name implies small fish caught close to shore, near the rocks but is used for many different small fish.

Petit Salé – Salted pork. Salted pork entered the French and English kitchens as one of the most important foods that could be stored for long sea voyages. The pork would be cured in water and salt for anything from four to six weeks and then air-dried.  Smoked salted pork was cold smoked for up to a week or more. Both air-dried salt pork and smoked salt pork could be stored for months, and the recipes made with salt pork have become part of the traditional dishes of many countries.
Petit-Suisse – A very popular 40% fat, white, soft, creamy, cow’s milk cheese and the most popular fresh cheese in France. The cheese was created in, and a great deal is still produced in, Normandy; it is not a Swiss cheese.
Petit Quinquin (Menus du) or Menus du P'tit Quinquin -  P'tit or petit Quinquin is a little child in the language of Piccard, the original language of Picardy in North Western France; local menus occasionally use Petit Quinquin as a cute heading for a child’s menu.  The words P'tit Quinquin are also the best-known title of a song otherwise called L'Canchon Dormoire, The Lullaby. The song was written by a favorite son of Picardy, Alexander Desrousseaux (1820- 1892); he wrote in the language of Piccard.  In Lille the most famous square for visitors is the Place du Général de Gaulle, who was born in Lille; but for the locals equally as famous is the Square Foch which many call the Le P'tit Quinquin square as apart from a statue of Maréchal Foch the square holds a bust of Desrousseaux. A tune from the song the  P'tit Quinquinis is sounded every hour by the carillon of the belfry of the Chamber of Commerce of Lille. (Since 1-1-2016 Piccardt is part of the new super region of Hauts-de-France).

Names that include Petite on French Menus:

Petite Friture – On your menu for a tasty entrée of deep-fried little fish. (see the appendix Fish: Poissons de Roche). 

Petite Friture de Lac – Deep fried little freshwater fishes from the lake. (see the appendix Fish: Poissons de Roche). 

Petite Portion –  A small portion. A menu may offer different sizes of the portions of a particular dish; that allows the diner to choose a smaller portion as an entrée. 

Petite Marmite –A petite marmite in a French kitchen is a small cooking dish while the petite marmite on your menu will be a stew served in that same dish. By tradition, the stew will have been cooked in the bowl in which it will be served.  Petite marmites are usually made from beef and or chicken but may also be made with fish. Most marmites will be accompanied by carrots, turnips, cabbage, leeks, and herbs. Petite marmites are the name given to similar and smaller, cooking pots than those called a marmite without any prefix. The stew cooked in a petite marmite will often be served in it. The traditional shapes used for the pots called marmites and petite marmites have long gone, but the recipes remain.

The Marmites above are 100% French marmites.  They have nothing to do with or will taste anything like the UK Marmite. The UK Marmite is a yeast extract flavoring that was loved by Queen Victoria and is still popular, in the UK, today. 

Names that include Petits on French menus:

 Petits-fours – Tiny cakes and pastries served at the end of a meal; usually served along with the coffee. Some may be fairly simple preparations; some may be works of art that are nearly too beautiful to eat.

Petits Légumes or Petits Légumes Printaniers - Small, young vegetables or small young spring vegetables; a translated menu may note small or miniature vegetables. Most restaurants using the words petits or nouvelle, small or new, before the name of a particular vegetable will just be advising you that the vegetables they are using are young, small, not fully grown; the inference is that they will be sweet and tender. 

Chefs also create attractive dishes with miniature vegetables and these are fully grown, but tiny cauliflowers, eggplants, etc.  These are called mini-légumes, miniature vegetables.  They taste the same as the full-grown original but on your plate add to the restaurant theater.
 Petits Pois – Small, fresh, sweet, green peas.

Le Petits Pois

Petit or Petite  –  Small or little.
Masculine and feminine.

Petit is the masculine form, and petite is the feminine of the words little or small. The pronunciation is different with the masculine petite pronounced without sounding the final t (pronounced petee)  and the feminine petite (with the e added) having the final t  sounded (pronounced peteet).
For the correct pronunciation, I suggest using one of the programs below. They offer sound bytes and that is much better than my written suggestions and I use them. (Best for single words)

Unlike English where we can get away using "it" for most nouns, there are no grammatical rules for French masculine and feminine nouns, usage is learned.  Le Petit Concombre, the small cucumber is masculine, and La Petite Carotte, the small carrot is feminine.  When ordering in a restaurant I don't worry if I make mistakes, the Maitre d's (or Maîtres d') are always forgiving. 

My original notes on French menu listings were memory prompts written for my own use;  however, for the book Behind the French Menu, I try to use examples that others have checked. Nevertheless, mistakes may remain and they are mine alone.
Connected Posts:






Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google. Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 450 articles that include over 4,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.
Bryan G Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2018.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman