Monday, August 13, 2012

Choux; Cabbage in a French restaurant? Of Course, Cabbage is very important in French Cuisine.


Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan Newman
   
Chou - Cabbage.
              
Chou, Chou Blanc, Chou Vert,  Chou Pommé  – Cabbage,  white cabbage, green cabbage; the most popular and well known of the many members of the cabbage family. N.B. The plural of chou is choux.

No French restaurant, from the smallest to the largest, will have excluded the cabbage from one or more of the dishes they serve daily; even if the cabbage is just flavoring a soup.  In France cabbage will be on the menus of the corner restaurant and no three star Michelin Guide restaurant will be without it.


White Cabbage.
Photograph by courtesy of gregw.
  
Your menu may offer:
  
Chou Blanc en Blanquette – A Provencal cabbage stew made with veal, lamb or goat.    Here white cabbage is layered between lightly fried, but quite garlicky, meats that are then baked slowly with a white wine until all the flavors are shared.
  
Choux Farci au Bœuf  Haché,  Riz, Herbes et Tomates – Stuffed cabbage wrapped about chopped meat and rice stuffing with herbs and tomatoes. A dish that seems more Austrian-Hungarian or East-European in origin than French. However, remember that Napoleon I and his armies were nearly everywhere in Europe and Eastern Europe, and Napoleon’s cooks brought recipes from everywhere. 
  

Recipe for white cabbage with a vinaigrette sauce.
Photograph courtesy of Ynote.
  

Chou Farci aux Langoustines sur Son Beurre Blanc (1)- Cabbage stuffed with Dublin Bay Prawns, the real scampi, and served with a beurre blanc sauce. 
                              
Choucroute (2) The Alsatian form of sauerkraut, pickled cabbage. Choucroute is served both as a garnish, a side dish, and as central part of of the dish called choucroute garnie,  that is an enormous dish of cabbage, pork, sausages ham and more


A choucroute garnie for 12. Ready for serving.
Photograph courtesy of titou.net.

Embeurré de Choux -  Sliced boiled cabbage which is then fried with butter (3), and then before serving more butter is added.  This is one of my favorite French garnishes; some chefs may add to their embeurré de Choux small amounts of carrots and onions, and others will add bacon pieces. I’ll stay with the version that is simply made with huge amounts of butter. 
     
Pavé de Bar Rôti en Peau sur une Embeurré de Choux Vert  - A thick cut of European sea-bass (4) roasted in its skin, and served on the plentifully buttered green cabbage garnish, the side-dish, that is noted above.
                         

Stuffed White Cabbage.
Photograph by courtesy of Rodrigo SEPÚLVEDA SCHULZ
     
Saucisse de Chou -Pork sausages made with cabbage; many parts of France have special recipes and in the Auvergne they claim theirs are the best.  La Saucisse de Choux d'Arconsat, the cabbage sausage from the village of Arconsat, in the département of Puy de Dôme in the région of Auvergne;  it is considered, by many, to be the very best.
 

Road sign of Arconsat.
The world capital of cabbage sausages.
Photograph courtesy of sen.w
            
You may want to blame the Romans for domesticating kale,  cabbage’s great-great-great grandmother or grandfather.  However, while in France the Romans may certainly be blamed for aqueducts, roads, amphitheaters, apricots trees, cherry trees, snail farming and much more; blaming the Romans for cultivating kale and later cabbage is not on firm ground. To be sure, kale, once it had been domesticated has never stopped producing offspring and its huge extended family includes many different cabbages,  broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts as well as all those wonderful Italian radicchios.  However, surely we can share the blame with the Chinese for they developed a wide variety of excellent Asian cabbages, and allied vegetables, all also developed from kale .In another post I will include other cabbages seen on French menus including Chinese cabbages that have made into the French mainstream. 
                 
The French name for cabbage, chou, originates from an old French word for head, that is rather obvious if we look at the shape of any normal white cabbage.

Cabbages in the language of France’s neighbors:

(German – kohl, weisskohl, weisskr), (Italian – col, cavolo cappuccio), (Provencal – caulet) – (Spanish - repollo blanco).

Cabbage in other languages:
(Arabic - ملفوف ), (Chinese -捲心菜), (Dutch – wittekool, sla), (Filipino- repolyo)
 (Greek – Λάχανο), (Hebrew – croov, כרוב (Japanese – kyabetsu -  キャベツ),
 (Rumanian),  (Russian- kапуста), (Turkish – lahana), (Ukranian – капуста), (Latin - brassica oleracea)

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Bryan G, Newman

Behind The French Menu
Copyright 2010,2014.
 
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman
at
behindthefrenchmenu@gmail.com