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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Gibier – Wild game. Wild game in French Cuisine. Wild Game on French Menus.

Behind the French menu
Bryan G. Newman

Gibier – Wild  game
The French term gibier covers all types of wild game. Game may legally be hunted in France; each in its specific season. Hunting is licensed and controlled by the different departments.
Many of the animals hunted as wild game in France are now also farmed and they will be on menus all year round. Nevertheless, there are great differences in taste and texture between farmed and wild game. Worry not, when game is served out of season, you will not be eating the poacher’s catch.
Game that is legally hunted in France.

The game that may, in season, with a license, be legally hunted include: Bécasse,  woodcock; Bécassine, snipe; Caille, quail; Cerf Rouge, Cerf  Élaphe or Cerf Noble, Red Deer; Cerf Sika, sika deer; Chamois, the Alpine mountain goat and the Isard, Izard, the Pyrenean Chamois: Chevreuil, roe deer; Daim, fallow deer; Gélinotte, grouse; Faisan, pheasant; Perdrix, Partridge; Pigeon Ramier or Palombe, wood pigeon; Mouflon, the mouflon sheep, France’s native wild sheep; Sanglier, wild boar; along with many wild ducks and game fish.
Wild rabbit, lapin sauvage and hare, lièvre sauvage, maybe hunted all year round.  However, farmed rabbit and hare are larger and tenderer than the wild variety. Apart from some traditional recipes that require wild rabbit or hare the French diner prefers the farmed variety. You will rarely see wild rabbit or hare on the menu. (Squirrels, écureuils, may be hunted at any time but I have never seen a squirrel on a menu).

There are a large number of wild ducks that may be hunted, and game fishing is also popular.  The French term for the hunt, la chasse, came into English as the chase and the same word is also used for game fishing in France.

Many restaurants will make additions to their regular menus when fresh game is available. N.B. In certain areas, some restaurants that specialize in wild game only open during the hunting season.

French words that will be on the menu during the hunting season.
Carte de Chasse-The Menu of the Hunt.
Cerf – Deer. The word is used to refer to any deer but generally will indicate the red deer.
Gibier à Poil –  Furred wild game. 
Gibier de Plume - Game birds.
Gibier en Saison – Game in season.
Gibier Frais de Chasse Locale – Fresh, local, wild game.
Wild quail is smaller with darker and tastier meat than the farmed variety, but with limited availability do not ignore farmed quail outside of the hunting season.

Caille Sauvage de Provence Accompagnée d'Olives et Legumes – Wild quail from Provence accompanied by olives and vegetables.

Roti Sur Une Crapaudine De Caille Sauvage Au Vrai Jus Gnocchi de Pommes de Terre. A roasted, butterflied, wild quail served with its natural cooking juices and accompanied by potato flour gnocchi.
The European quail is a little smaller than the American quail. Despite the quail family's connection to pheasants, you would not know it to taste one or to look at one. Farms that raise quail also raise these birds for their beautiful eggs; quail eggs are an essential part of quail farming economics.
Quail in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - guatlla, guatla, guàtlera), (Dutch - kwartel), (German - wachtel), (Italian - quaglia comune), (Spanish -  codorniz común).
Canard Sauvage – Wild duck.

Wild duck is almost an entirely different bird to farmed duck. The meat is much darker, the flavor completely different.  The chef must make sure that the ducks he or she buys are not old.  Unfortunately, old wild ducks often have a fishy flavor and are always very stringy.

France has many wild ducks with the Canard Colvert, the mallard duck, most often on the menu.  When the menu does not explicitly identify the duck, then it is the mallard duck.  The mallard duck is the most common wild duck in France and probably the most common wild duck in the rest of the world as well. Colvert means green collar, the identifying mark of the male duck. This is a tasty, lean duck that was once only caught in the wild; however, now it is also farm raised, though the taste and texture are not the same as its wild cousin.

The male wild mallard duck.
Wild duck on French menus:
Magret de Canard Sauvage aux Figues Caramélisées au Miel d'Acacia Breast of wild duck prepared with figs caramelized with France’s much-loved acacia tree honey.
Filet de Canard Sauvage aux Airelles, Mousseline de Céleri - A cut from the breast of wild duck prepared with European cranberries and served with a celery mousse.
The Mallard duck in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan -  ànec collverd, ànec de bosc), (Dutch - wilde eend),(German – stockente). (Italian - germano reale),  (Spanish - añade real).
Other wild ducks that are on French menus include:

Canard Chipeau - The gadwall or sand-wigeon:
(Catalan ), (German – schnatterente), (Italian – canapiglia),   (Spanish - ánade friso),
Canard Siffleur – The Eurasian Wigeon

Despite this duck’s  odd-sounding English name, this is a well-liked wild duck.  In season it will be on many menus all over Europe.

(Catalan - ànec xiulador), (Dutch - smient), (German -  pfeifente). (Italian - fischione),  (Spanish - silbón europeo),
Canard Souchet – The shoveler or northern shoveler  duck:
 This duck’s  name comes from the shape of its beak.
(Catalan - ànec cullerot),(Dutch - slobeend) (German – löffelente),  (Spanish - cuchara común or patos cucharas), (Italian – mestolone), 
Cerf –Venison

Venison is the meat of any member of the deer family. In France, when no particular deer is named then it will be the red deer.

Venison on the menu:

Carpaccio de Cerf Sauvage à la Roquette et au Parmesan – Wild Venison, marinated and served as a Carpaccio with the herb rocket and Parmesan cheese. Wild deer need to be marinated for at least 24 hours, farmed deer are much tenderer, but wild deer have a different and better flavor.

Civet de Cerf Sauce Grand Veneur et Polenta – A venison stew, again probably the red deer, served with a Grand Veneur sauce, the sauce of a great hunter. The stew is accompanied by polenta, the French version of the North Italian dish of cornmeal polenta.  For the European peasantry, it was cornmeal and corn flour, maize flour, which saved many from starvation. Today polenta has become a fashionable side dish though today’s French farmers, no longer peasants, mostly ignore polenta and buy pasta, rice and or potatoes in the supermarket. Grand Veneur is a traditional sauce created to serve with game. The recipe has changed over time and now is usually made with red wine vinegar, butter, fresh berries and crème fraîche. The term veneur means a huntsman.

Filet de Cerf Sauvage Choux de Bruxelles Pommes de Terre Confits, Thym, Citron – Fillet of wild venison, a cut from the tenderloin, Brussel’s sprouts, and potatoes baked with oil and garlic and flavored with thyme and lemon.

Cerf Rouge, Cerf  Élaphe or Cerf Noble
The red deer.

An adult red deer is a cerf, a young male, under six months of age, is called a faon; from here comes the English word fawn. A young female red deer, like the young male she is called a faon until she is one-year-old; then she will be called a bichette. At two years, she is considered mature and called a biche.  The English word bitch comes from the French biche.

Red deer
Salade Gourmande au Cerf Rouge Sauvage Fumé et Fromage de Chèvre aux Amandes – A gourmand’s salad made with smoked meat from the wild red deer, goat’s cheese, and almonds. A salad like this will usually be served with a vinaigrette sauce; ask. The use of the word gourmand on a menu should indicate something exceptional and rarely available, not just expensive; this dish would seem to meet that criterion.

Cerf Rouge Sauvage Rôti, Purée de Betterave Blanche, Crosnes, Shiitake et Pulpe de Canneberges –  Roasted wild red deer served with pureed white beetroot, Japanese artichokes, shiitake mushrooms and cranberry pulp.
Red deer in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan -  cérvol or cérvol comú), (Dutch -  edelhert ), (German - rothirsch  ), (Italian -  cervo nobile ( ), (Spanish - ciervo común, ciervo europeo, ciervo rojo).

the European Roe Deer
The roe deer is relatively small and when roasted or grilled will be barded, wrapped in fat, as the meat is very lean.

Female roe deer (Chevrette).
La Selle de Chevreuil Sauvage Désossée et Rôtie en Croûte de Cuchaule, Sauce à la Moutarde de Bénichon – A saddle of wild roe deer, the back deboned, roasted and covered in cuchaule, the saffron flavored brioche type bread, from Switzerland and served with a sauce flavored with the Benichon Mustard from the Swiss Canton of Fribourg. The Benichon mustard is a sweet mustard jam made of mustard flour, flour, white wine, cooked wine, candy sugar and water perfumed with cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. It is nearly always served together with the cuchaule brioche. 
Paté de Chevreuil Sauvage de Sologne aux Chanterelles. Pate made with the wild roe deer and wild chanterelle mushrooms from the Sologne.   The Sologne is in North Central France includes parts of the departments of Loiret, Loir-et-Cher and Cher in the region of Centre-Val de Loire.  The Sologne is a 5,000 square kilometer (1,900 square mile) area of France that is practically untouched. It is well known for its fishing and wild game. N.B. Much of the hunting and fishing rights in Sologne are privately owned and not open to the visitor.
Roe deer in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - cabirol), (Dutch - ree), (German - reh), (Italian - capriolo), (Spanish – corzo).
The European Mountain goat

There are three, possibly four separate groups of the Chamois family of mountain goats in France. The two that are permitted to be hunted are the Alpine Chamois and the Pyrenean Chamois. These goats are not farmed and will be on the menu only if they have been caught in the wild.

The Chamois
Dos de Chamois des Alpes Rôti au Jambon de Sanglier et aux Légumes Anciens, Pulpe de Coing au Vinaigre de Framboises, et une Sauce aux Baies de Timut   -   A thick cut from the Alpine Chamois roasted with wild boar ham and served with heirloom vegetables, a puree of quince-flavored with raspberry vinegar and a sauce flavored with the timut pepper from Nepal. Timut pepper is similar to Szechuan pepper with a grapefruit tang.

Selle de Chamois aux Herbettes et Baies Sauvages – The saddle, the back, of the Chamois prepared with flavored wild grasses and wild berries.

The Alpine Chamois Chamois in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan – isard), (Dutch - alpengems), (German -   gämsen), (Italian - camoscio alpino ), (Spanish - rebeco, gamuza, sarrio).
Isard, Izard  or Pyrenean Chamois in the languages of France’s neighbors:

 (Catalan: isard pirinenc),(Dutch - Pyrenese gems),(German Pyrenäen-Gämse) (Italian: camoscio, camoscio pirenaico, camoscio dei Pirenei
 In season wild pheasant will be on many menus and is well worth looking out for.

Wild pheasant on French Menus:

Suprême de Faisan Sauvage de France, PolentaBreast of wild pheasant served with polenta.
Terrine Maison de Filets de Paisan Sauvage aux Pistaches et Confiture d'Oignons – The restaurant’s unique pate made with slices of wild pheasant breast prepared with pistachio nuts and served with an onion jam.

Filets de Faisan Sauvage en Brochette, aux Raisins Frais et Noix, Jus au Pineau Des Charentes, Flan D’échalotes Aux Châtaignes  –  Cuts from the breast of wild pheasant on skewers prepared with fresh grapes and walnuts served with the natural cooking juices flavored with Pineau Des Charentes, the Cognac-based aperitif, and accompanied by a shallot and chestnut tart.

Pheasants in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - faisa), (Dutch - fazant), (German – fasan), (Italian - fagiano comune), (Spanish - faisán común).
Gélinotte  - Grouse
Grouse may be hunted during a short season: however, like many birds that are also farmed wild grouse are rarely seen on restaurant menus; the hunters will have taken home their catch home.

Grouse in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - tetraónidas), (Dutch -  ruigpoothoenders), (German -raufusshühner), (Italian – urogalli, tetraoni), (Spanish - tetraóninos).
Perdrix -  Partridge

Partridge will be on many menus though nearly all will be farm raised as only a few departments permit the hunting of wild partridge. The two menu listings below are showing farmed partridge.

The gray partridge
Perdrix au Miel et aux Fruits Secs – Partridge prepared with honey and dried fruits.
La Demi Perdrix Rouge Désossée et Farcie aux Cèpes – Half of a red-legged partridge deboned and stuffed with wild French Porcini mushrooms

The Partridge in the languages of France’s neighbors

(Catalan - perdiu), (Dutch - patrijs), (German - rebhühner ), (Italian - pernice), (Spanish - perdices).

Wild salmon is a very different fish to the farmed variety. The only wild salmon native to France is the Atlantic salmon, and that is the same salmon that is native to Scandinavia and the British Isles. The best farmed salmon from Scotland is the only salmon with a French Label Rouge, the red label for quality and farming practices; those excellent farms also posses the British RSPCA Freedom Food label. When you have tasted the best wild salmon, there is a clear difference in taste and texture, also in price!  Wild Atlantic salmon stocks are now carefully managed and there is no over-fishing. Other salmon family members that may reach French menus will have been imported.

Fishing for wild salmon. 
It takes lots of patience.
Wild Atlantic salmon on French Menus:
Grande Assiette de Saumon Sauvage Baltique Fumé – A generous serving of smoked wild Baltic salmon. The Baltic Sea is part of the Atlantic ocean but almost enclosed by Sweden, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Lituania, Estonia, Poland, Germany, and Denmark.   It is famous both for the region’s farmed salmon and the wild salmon caught there.
Carpaccio de Saumon Sauvage Mariné à la Vinaigrette de Limes, Crème Aigrelette au Raifort Carpaccio of wild salmon marinated in a lime vinegar and served with sour cream flavored with horseradish.
The Atlantic Salmon in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - salmó), (Dutch - zalm), (German – lachs, wildlachs), (Italian –  salmone atlantico), (Spanish – salmon).
Wild boar will be on the menu twelve months a year.  The French discovered that by closing off parts of forests and leaving good food out, wild boar allowed themselves to be farmed.  The real wild boars, which are considered a serious nuisance by French farmers may be culled in season.  Then the menu will read Sanglier Sauvage…..wild wild boar. Real Wild boar is very carefully controlled before it may be sold. Each and every animal must have part of the meat send to a government laboratory before sale or consumption. The wild boar on your menu will have been approved as disease free.

Wild boar
Filet Mignon de Sanglier Sauvage à la Crème de Topinambour, Truffe – A cut from the fillet, the tenderloin, of wild boar served with a Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke and truffles.
Civet de Sanglier Sauvage aux Lardons et Petits Oignons Glacés, Purée de Panais A wild boar stew flavored with bacon pieces and small pickled onions and accompanied by a parsnip puree.
Wild boar in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - senglar, porc senglar, porc fer ), (Dutch - wild zwijn  ), (German - wildschwein ), (Italian -  cinghiale ), (Spanish - jabalí, jabalí euroasiático).
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010,2016.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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