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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gigot, Gibelotte, Gigolette, Gigotin and Gigue on French Menus and in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

A Gigot d'Agneau - A roast leg of lamb.
Gigot, Gigolette, and Gigotin began as dishes created around a roasted leg of lamb, pig, goat or other animals while Gibelotte began as a traditional rabbit stew. Over time, the original meanings of all of these have changed, and this post should make today’s usage clear.
A gigot will indicate a leg of lamb, a leg of goat, a pig’s leg and sometimes the monkfish’s meaty tail.

Gigot on French menus:

Gigot d'Agneau Rôti aux Herbes de Provence – Roasted leg of lamb, flavored with the Herbs of Provence, herb group. N.B.: A gigot of lamb always refers to a rear leg. When ordering lamb in France, unlike with a steak, you will rarely be asked how you would like it cooked. The French prefer their lamb rosé, pink.  If you prefer your lamb medium or well done advise the server.

Gigot on the ardoise.
The ardoise is the slate or blackboard that often shows the daily specials inside and outside French restaurants.
Gigot de Chevreau Rôti au Thym et Légumes  The leg of a young male goat, roasted with thyme and vegetables.  Goats are raised for their milk with some of France’s greatest cheeses being made with goat’s milk. However, young males will not grow up to give milk, and so they will be on many menus.
Gigot de Lotte Rôti au Thym Citronné, Poêlée de Fèves aux ÉchalotesMonkfish tail flavored with lemon thyme leaves and served with lightly fried fava beans and shallots. Monkfish is called lotte in most of France and baudroie in the South. The tasty monkfish tail has very firm flesh.

Gigot de Chèvre
A leg of goat stuffed with seasonal vegetables and flavored with watercress.
Photograph courtesy of mswine.
Gigot de Pré-sale
Gigot Rôti d’Agneau de Pré-sale – Roasted leg of pre-sale lamb. Pré-sale lambs will reach the market when between 4 - 9 months old. These lambs are raised by their mothers until they are weaned and then they are allowed to graze in the salt meadows close to the sea for two to six months. The grazing provides their unique taste which is in no way salty.

Agneau de pre-sale AOP from the Mont-Saint-Michel,
Haute Normandy.
Gigot de Porcelet Farci aux Cèpes  - The roast leg of a piglet stuffed with cèpes, porcini mushrooms.
A gibelotte began as a rabbit stew flavored with bacon, onions, mushrooms and white wine. Gibelotte was and is a popular dish; however, over time many different dishes have been added with gibelotte as part of their name.  Do not be surprised to see, on a menu, a gibelotte with beef or game and red wine.
Gibelotte de Lapin.
Photograph courtesy of Chris Chen 陳依勤
Gibelotte de Lapin au Cidre et Calvados – This is the traditional gibelotte rabbit stew with the white wine replaced by cider and Calvados.  Cider instead of wine will be seen in Normandy so famous for its cider and other apple products.  Rabbits and hares on French menus are 99% farm-raised.
Gibelotte de Pintade Farcie au Foie Gras – A gibelotte stew of guinea fowl stuffed with fattened duck liver.
Gigolette was originally a cooking term used for dishes that included the leg or legs of small animals including chickens, ducks, rabbits, frogs, etc.   While gigolette is still used with its original meaning, the word is now also used for many other cuts. A small cut across a lamb bone may be a gigolette d’agneau, a gigolette of lamb; another cut may be a  gigolette de veau, veal.  You will need to ask for more information on some of the dishes when gigolette is on the menu,
My French-English dictionary definitions for gigolette includes a nymph, damsel, and a prostitute?  I have so far failed to uncover the secrets of the chefs who gave out the names for these dishes they created!
Gigolette on French menus:
Gigolette de Canard au Ris de Veau  - A duck’s leg, most probably roasted; accompanied by veal sweetbreads.  Veal sweetbreads are an inside cut and one of the tastiest. If you have not yet tried sweetbreads,  France is the place to do so.

Gigolette  de Lapin et Son Nid de Petit Legumes Tournés
A cut of rabbit, including the leg, served on a bed of young vegetables cut in the shape of small barrels.
How vegetables are displayed is very important in French cuisine. France has many different names for its minutely measured vegetables shapes and cuts.
Photograph courtesy of Viviane Lamarlère.

Gigolette de Volaille Farcie aux Morilles A leg of chicken stuffed with morel mushrooms.
Gigolette de Lapin Parfumé au Romarin – A leg of rabbit flavored with the herb rosemary.

Gigotin – On your menu this will usually indicate a dish with a small leg of a lamb, kid or piglet. Occasionally chefs get carried away with the poetry they create for their menus. As an example consider how the word gigotin began to be used for fish dishes, even though fish do not have legs. Despite that unanswered question, I can understand calling a dish with a monkfish tail at the center a gigotin de lotte.  Lotte means monkfish and all the firm meat on a monkfish is in and around its thick tail. However, the other usage of the word gigotin for some other fish dishes are beyond my understanding.

Gigotin d'Agneau au Thym Frais, Tian de Légumes, Gratin Dauphin – A small leg of lamb, roasted with fresh thyme and served with a tian of vegetables and Gratin Dauphin. A tian was originally a specific cooking dish; however, today the original tian’s special shape is no longer required.  When the word tian is on the menu, it will usually indicate vegetables that are cooked in the dish and then served in it.  Today a tian has no particular shape and is another word for any serving bowl that the restaurant may use.  Gratin Dauphinoise, Gratin Dauphin or Pommes de Terre Dauphinoise are all the same dish. This dish is sliced baked potatoes cooked with olive oil and garlic and layered with cream and milk. Some versions include onions, and to nearly all are added grated cheese browned under the grill before serving,

Pomme de Terre Dauphinoise.
Photograph courtesy of Edsel Little.
Gigotin de Poulet Farci aux Cèpes – A chicken leg by any other name will taste the same.  Here the chicken leg, the gigotin, is stuffed with porcini mushrooms.

French cèpes, porcini mushrooms, in the market.
Photograph courtesy of The Richards.
Gigotin d'Agneau, Jus à l'Ail doux, Gratin Dauphinois  - A small leg of lamb prepared with the juice of sweet garlic and served with potatoes gratin dauphinoise.
Gigotin de Daurade et Risotto au SafranGilthead sea bream served with a saffron based risotto. Even if I do not know how gilthead sea bream arrived on menus as a gigotin, I do know that gilthead are a firm, tasty fish.  Larger gilthead, over one kilo, are mostly caught in the Mediterranean while smaller fish may come from seawater fish-farms.

Gilthead Sea Bream.

Gigue (de) – A haunch; a term only used for game.

Gigue de Chevreuil Grand Veneur Grand Veneur  – The haunch of a roe deer served with the sauce of a great hunter. Worry not, you will receive slices. Grande veneur is a traditional sauce created to serve with game, veneur means hunter. The recipe has changed over time and now is usually made with red wine vinegar, butter, fresh berries, especially juniper berries, and crème fraîche. The roe deer on this menu listing is farm-raised; if this roe deer had been hunted in the wild, the listing would have noted chevreuil sauvage.
Gigue de Sanglier Sauce St Hubert. The haunch, rear leg, of a wild boar served with Sauce St Hubert.  This is a sweet and sour, slightly spicy red wine and vinegar sauce with added juniper berries and served with game. When you see dishes with the name Saint Hubert (656-727) on the menu, then these will be recipes originally created for wild game. Saint Hubert is the Belgian patron Saint of the Belgian Ardennes region and also the hunters’ patron saint. The same or similar wild game dishes are, in season, on the menus in the French region of Champagne Ardennes. However this menu listing is not for real wild boar, unless it was on a “Menu de Chasse”, a hunting season menu.  A real wild boar would be on the menu as a sanglier sauvage. France farms  wild boar raising them in large open areas of forests; there they do not know they are being farmed. Within these areas, the farmed wild boar are fed well, and are raised so they have much tenderer meat than their really wild cousins.

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
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For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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