Friday, February 15, 2013

Bœuf Charolais - Charolais Beef; the Very Best Beef in France.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Updated August 2019
Charolais cows.
The Charolais AOP cattle are highly rated for their meat. They are the third French breed of cattle to be awarded an AOC (now upgraded to an AOP) for their meat's consistent superior quality. For livestock, an AOP also sets out the manner in which the cattle are raised and what they may be fed. The Charolais herds are all free-range and feed on grasses and wildflowers and herbs in the summer. In the winter, when they are moved to sheltering barns, where they are fed local grasses and cereals that were collected in the summer from their grazing areas and stored. Additionally, all AOC cattle must be totally free of growth hormones and antibiotics. The calves must be raised by their mothers and may not be separated until they are weaned.
A Charolais Cow
Charolais cattle are almost entirely white; it is marvelous to drive through the countryside in the summer with the beautiful contrasts of the grass and the white herds of these cattle. However; I worry that if any of these cattle were left outside when it snows, no one would find them!
Apart from veal, the Charolais are not brought to market until they are at least two and a half years old, so their body fat is distributed with well-marbled beef.

The Charolais Beef on French menus:

Filet de Boeuf Charolais aux Morilles et Savagnin Gratin de Pomme de Terre et Légumes de Saison - A cut from a Charolais fillet, the tenderloin, prepared with morel mushrooms and a Savagnin wine sauce.  The fillet is always the tenderest cut of beef; however, it is not the tastiest, and in France, a cut from the fillet is always served with a sauce.. Here the sauce is made with the natural cooking juices, morel mushrooms, and the  Savagnin wine.
The Savagnin grape produces some fantastic white wines in the French department of Jura bordering Switzerland. The wine’s name in French comes from the word sauvage meaning wild, and that indicates that the vines and grapes came from wild vineyards.

Le Carpaccio de Bœuf  Charolais, Mesclun et Copeaux de Parmesan Carpaccio of Charolaise beef served with a mesclun salad and sprinkled with flakes of Parmesan cheese.

Boeuf Carpaccio
Pavé de Rumsteck "Charolais" Sauce au Poivre Vert – A thick cut of a Charolais rump steak, prepared with a green pepper sauce. A North American or UK rump steak comes from a slightly different cut to the French Rumsteck. In France, a rump steak will be barded while cooking; meaning that it will be tied around with fat to prevent it from drying out as naturally, this cut has little fat. The result is that French cuts from the rump will usually be tastier than similar cuts at home. The sauce offered is a green pepper sauce; nearly all pepper steaks are made with green peppercorns with good reason. Green peppercorns are picked before they are ripe, and then they are pickled in brine before drying; the result is a pepper with a slightly herbal flavor that is much less pungent than black or white peppercorns. With a green pepper sauce, it is far easier to control the taste that while white or black pepper could easily under or over season the dish.   
Pave de Rumsteck

salade mesclun is a green salad that should include at least five different salad greens. The most popular salad greens, in France, apart from the many types lettuce, include roquet, rocket; pissenlit, dandelion leaves; and, mâche, lamb's lettuce. It may be that your salade mesclun will have colorful additions and that is acceptable; often that will be radicchio. There are almost 100 varieties of lettuce and salad greens available in France, so the chefs have plenty to choose from.  

Tartare de Bœuf Charolais,  Pommes Frites et Salade de Jeunes Pousses –  Steak Tatar made with Charolais beef and served with French fries, chips, and a salad of young vegetable leaves.  The most popular young leave, shoots, come from spinach, chicory, Belgian Endives, arugula, and watercress. 
Tartare de Bœuf
Steak Tatar.

Tournedos de Bœuf du Charolais Poêle, sa Béarnaise a la Truffe Noire avec Petits Légumes de Printemps a la Vapeur d'Estragon et Couronne de Pommes de Terre Rôties  –   The  thickest cut from the end of the fillet, the tenderloin, is called the tournedos in France. A tournedos will be the cut used for a Tournedos Rossini, and a double tournedos will be a  Chateaubriand.  Here, the tournedos is lightly fried and then served with a  Béarnaise sauce that has been flavored with the black Périgord truffle. The dish is accompanied by steamed young spring vegetables steamed with tarragon and served in a ring of roast potatoes.  Béarnaise sauce is one of France's really awesome sauces; it is part of many beef or fish dishes whether they are served hot or cold.  Sauce Béarnaise was the creation of the chef and restaurateur Jean-Louis Françoise Collinet. Collinet took Sauce Hollandaise and replaced the lemon with white wine vinegar and shallots, and the herbs with chervil and tarragon and voila we have Sauce Béarnaise.  The chef Collinet is also remembered as the chef when in 1837, created soufflé potatoes. (Family members who traveled on the Orient Express from Paris to Venice contributed this incredibly tempting menu listing).
Church in Anzy Le Duc in Brionnais

Finding Charolais and Bourbonnais on the map.
Part of the Charolais du Bourbonnais name for this breed of cattle comes from the village and community of Charolles in the department of Saone et Loire in the Bourgogne. (Burgundy, Bourgogne, is now joined with Franche Comte in the new super region  of Bourgogne – Franche-Comte). This area was home to the Bourbon Kings of France, hence Bourbonnais.

Portions of Charolais and Bourbonnais are now included in a new voluntary economic and agricultural grouping called Le Pays Charolais-Brionnais.   
How to get to Charolles
The area of Charolais-Brionnais covers part of the South West of Burgundy and part of the newly joined super region of the Auvergne - Rhône-Alpes  To make things more interesting when you ask the locals who they are some call themselves Charolaise and some call themselves Bourbonnais.
There is much more than beef on the menu with the names Charolais and Bourbonnais.
Charolais AOP -  Fromage Charolais AOP -  A 45% fat, creamy,  goat’s milk cheese made with unpasteurized milk.    
Charolais AOP Cheese.

 L’Agneau Charolais Fermier du Bourbonnais, Label Rouge  – The highly rated breed Charolais Bourbonnais red label lambsthat developed alongside the Charolais cattle. When Charolais lamb is on the menu, do not pass it by.
The Volailles Label Rouge Bourbonnais IGP -  The Bourbonnais poultry. Their highly rated poultry includes their farm-raised chickens, their Poulet Bourbonnais Fermier Label Rouge, and their Pintade Bourbonnais, Fermière Label Rouge, their red label, farm-raised Guinea hens.
Guinea Hens.

Bryan G Newman

Behind the French Menu
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