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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Clafoutis on the French Menu; what are they?

The original clafoutis was a traditional cherry tart
from the région of Limousin.
Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman
A cherry clafoutis
Photograph courtesy of balise42
Clafoutis are pronounced clafouti, the “s” is silent; and the classic clafoutis was made with, griottes, sour cherries, that were cooked together in a crepe-like batter.  Today cherry  clafoutis may  also be made with another of France's wonderful cherries. N.B. Whether a clafoutis is a tart, flan or a pie is disputed both by chefs and by restaurant menus; you may decide for yourself when your order your first clafoutis!
As the clafoutis became popular in other parts of France, chefs added other fresh fruits when cherries were not in season. Once a change has been made in a traditional recipe and its popularity grows, the changes go on and on. Consider the TarteTatin, originally only made with the apples; now on many excellent restaurant menus when made with pears, pineapples and other fruits.  Apart from fruit Tatins French chefs also make Tatins with vegetables as garnishes for main dishes.
Clafoutis are not only on the menu with other fruits as desserts, a clafoutis may be the starter, the French entrée, and then it can be made with cheese, fish or ham.  Other chefs will make clafoutis with vegetables as a garnish to a main course, or a larger single serving of a clafoutis with salmon or ham may be offered as the main course for a light lunch. Depending on the ingredients clafoutis may be served hot, warm or cold. For a single diner, outside of small family restaurants, a clafoutis will usually be made in a single serving dish; a large clafoutis is usually only seen when a whole table or a number of diners make the same order.


Clafoutis aux Courgettes,  
a clafoutis with courgettes, the American Zucchini.
Photograph courtesy of papyraceous
The classic clafoutis recipe.
The classic clafoutis recipe, even when far from home, and made with fruit other than cherries, will  still have all the ingredients mixed in a crêpe-like batter and all will be cooked together; though some cheeses, certain fish and cured ham will be added later.

All the ingredients for a clafoutis
Photograph courtesy of julesjulesjules m
The clafoutis on your menu.

Clafoutis aux Cerises –  A clafoutis with cherries; the original recipe.


Individual cherry clafoutis
Photograph courtesy of annalibera
Clafoutis aux Fruits de Saison – A clafoutis made with the season’s fresh fruits.  This may be strawberries and other berries, plums, peaches, apricots, apples, pears and more.

A serving of a clafoutis with plums

Photograph courtesy of  Stijn Nieuwendijk

Clafoutis au Reblochon de Savoie et aux Quetsches- A clafoutis served with  France’s popular quetsche plums along with France’s outstanding Reblochon AOP (AOC)  cheese from the region of the Savoie, Savoy. Reblochon cheese is a soft-centered cheese, soft like a camembert or brie; however, its taste is different, reblochon has a mild, pleasant, slightly nutty, taste.  There is a whole story about this famous cheese, and how it received its name; however as this is a post about the clafoutis I shall have to leave that story for a separate post. Enough to add that, in the Savoy, the reblochon AOC cheese has its own famous recipe created just for it, called a tartiflette. For a tartiflette a whole melting reblochon will be served over boiled potatoes, sometimes with onions and crème fraiche, all usually accompanied by lardons, smoked or fried bacon bits, local dried meats or ham as the chef decides.

A large pan tartiflette being prepared in the Savoie
Photograph courtesy of roboppy
The quetsche plum is a mauve to almost black plum that has a fragrant and sweet yellow flesh; it is oval shaped with almost pointed ends; the quetsche’s  nearest UK relation is the damson plum which is not as sweet. The quetsche is also well known for its use in one of France’s favorite plum brandies; so when you order a quetsche in a restaurant be sure that your request is well understood. While the quetsche is grown in the Savoie it is usually considered  a fruit from the Alsace and Lorraine.
Clafoutis aux Abricots –  A clafoutis made with apricots; France makes many wonderful dishes with apricots.

An apricot clafoutis
Photograph courtesy of chez loulou
Clafoutis aux Tomates et aux Fromages de Chèvre – A clafoutis offered with tomatoes and goat’s cheese; this will be a warmed, young, goat’s cheese that is added just before serving.

Clafoutis aux Pommes, Servi Tiède et Glace au Calvados  A clafoutis made with apples and served warm and glazed with Calvados. This sounds like the perfect Norman take on a clafoutis; Normandy has many recipes made with its abundant apples, and of course it is home to one of France’s two AOC ciders and the three different types of, Calvados AOC, apple brandy.
Clafoutis de Saumon Salade Mêlée- A clafoutis made with salmon and served with a mixed salad; salmon in France is almost always the Atlantic salmon.
Clafoutis de Chèvre et Olives et sa Frisée aux Petits Lardons - A clafoutis served with a warmed goat’s cheese and olives accompanied by a green salad. Here the green salad is made with that curly leafed member of the lettuce family or possibly the curly endive. In the salad offered are small lardons, smoked or fried bacon pieces that are often used for flavor in French recipes.
Some guide books and French food translations will tell you that another traditional dish from Limousin, called variously the flangnarde, flaugnarde or flognarde is the original name for any clafoutis made with any fruit other than cherries.. However, I was told by chef in a Limousin restaurant that the flangnarde  he makes use a distinctly different batter, and was originally served without fruit. The addition of fruit to a flangnarde  is relatively new, and so when I have the time I may do some fairly unnecessary research, and travel  to Limousin to check old menus; then I will know when fruit was first added to a flangnarde. In any case with such a markedly different batter, the original flangnarde is hardly a close relation of the clafoutis.
Bryan G Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2013

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