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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rouge des Prés AOC – The Very Best of French Beef. Rouge des Prés in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The Rouge des Prés AOC breed of cattle, originally called the Maine-Anjou, come from the old Province of Anjou, now included in the department of Maine et Loire. (Dining in the Maine et Loire, France).
One of the only four AOC cattle in France.
When the Rouge des Prés AOC is on the menu, you will be able to taste the very best of French beef. France grades its cattle and those with an AOC/AOP are the top of the top. For seven months every year, the Rouge des Prés freely graze on fresh grass, wild herbs and flowers. In the winter the same cattle are brought into the barns where they are may only be fed the dried grasses from the area in which they graze in summer. Only in the 120 days before they go to market may grains and cereals be added to their food.  Your cut of beef will not come from a young, stringy, tough piece of beef; all Rouge des Prés cattle must be at least two and a half years old before they go to market.  That’s enough time for them to have tender, tasty, gently marbled the meat. Drive through the department of Maine et Loire in the spring, summer, and autumn, and you will see the red and white to solid red or black cattle grazing. 
The breed was always dual-purpose, but beef is their primary use nowadays. Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon for farms to keep some of their Rouge des Prés cattle for milking.

Angers, home to the Rouge des Prés.

None of the Rouge des Prés cattle will ever have been exposed to antibiotics or growth hormones, and also by law, the calves must be raised by their mothers,   The farms where these cows come from are nothing like the vast UK and USA  feedlots where 1,000 plus cows are being fattened at any one time. The average size farm for the Rouge des Prés will have forty to fifty cows, and for each for and every cow, the farmer must have, by law, one hectare, 10,000 sq meters (12,000 sq yards), plus more land for bulls and calves.  For the best cuts of French beef choose the Rouge des Prés.

Rouge des Prés AOC beef on French Menus:

Carpaccio de Bœuf Rouge des Près au Jus de Yuzu, Frites – A beef Carpaccio from the Rouge Des Près beef prepared with yuzu juice and served with French fries, chips. (The yuzu is a Chinese or Tibetan citrus cross which is very aromatic. The Japanese popularized the yuzu, but the fruits on most French menus are now, in season, grown in France).
Le Pièce de Bœuf  Rouge des Prés aux Morilles et Champignons à la Crème –  A Pièce de Bœuf means the butcher’s cut, a cut that a butcher would take home for his or her family as it is appreciated for its real value. Here, the beef is served with a creamy morel mushroom and button mushroom sauce. The French butchers’ cuts are tender and flavorsome cuts from the rump that only French butchers have the patience to prepare.
Onglet De Boeuf Rouge Des Prés, Sauce Roquefort, Pommes Rissolées. -  A Rouge Des Prés US hanger steak or London broil, in the UK a skirt steak, here served with a Roquefort cheese sauce and cubed potatoes fried in butter. Pommes Rissolées are the closest French cuisine gets to North American hash browns.

Onglet De Boeuf
Entrecôte Rouge des Prés Grillée Sauce Bordelaise, Girolles Fraîches – A grilled Rouge de Prés rib-eye steak served with a Sauce Bordelaise prepared with wild chanterelle mushrooms. Sauce Bordelaise is a red Bordeaux wine sauce made with veal stock, butter, shallots, and herbs.

Filet De Bœuf  Maine d’Anjou Rôti, Écrasé de Pommes de Terre à l’Olive de Nyons, Sauce Au Vin Rouge De Saumur Champigny – A UK fillet of Rouge des Prés, (still on this menu as Main-Anjou beef).   This is a cut from the USA  tenderloin, accompanied by mashed potatoes prepared with Nyon olives and served with a red Saumur Champigny wine sauce. The Olive de Nyons AOP are roundish, black to violet colored Provençal olives.  The Saumur Champigny is one of the best red wines in the region.

A beef fillet, a cut from the tenderloin.

Tartare De Bœuf  La Rouge Des Près  Aux Parfums De Truffe d'Été Steak Tatar from Rouge Des Près beef flavored with the summer truffle. The black summer truffle is a lightly scented truffle.

Despite the cattle’s hundred-year reputation when the farmers of the Maine Anjou cattle applied for an AOC and all the tests were passed the farmers were then told to change the breed’s name. .After many arguments, the farmers agreed to rename their Maine-Anjou cattle the Rouge Des Prés (which means the red meadow cattle).  Despite the name change in 2003, some chefs still put Maine-Anjou on their menus, Why the change, I do not know? The only competition for the name that I have seen is the very tasty, farm-raised pigeon, the Royal Anjou pigeon.

Ballotine of  Royal Anjou Pigeon,
Black Pudding, and Spiced Juices.
The market garden of France.

Maine et Loire is in the Pays de Loire; the region justly referred to as the market garden of France.  The City of Angers sits across the Maine and Loire Rivers and is very close to another five. Not surprisingly, the vineyards of Anjou, the Angevine vineyards, are the largest in the whole Loire Valley.
From here comes the poire Anjou, the Anjou pear, and the tasty Reine-Claude plum, the greengage plum, that was brought to England from here in the early 18th century by Sir Thomas Gage. Also from here comes the much appreciated Volaille de Loué, Label Rouge, red label, poultry. The Volaille de Loué poultry includes organically raised chickens, chicken’s eggs, ducks, geese, turkeys, and guinea fowl.

Anjou pears

Enjoying the wines of Maine et Anjou

Many dishes on Anjou menus will include Angevine wines, and six different wines roads will take you through villages and wine roads. The website is only in French but easily understood with the Google or Bing translate apps:

Anjou has over 35 different AOC/AOP wines. The most well-known include: Anjou Rouge, red; Anjou Gamay, a red wine best drunk young like a Nouveau Beaujolais; Anjou Villages, red; Cabernet d'Anjou, rose; Rosé d'Anjou, rose and Anjou Blanc, white. From the Anjou, Saumur wines come: Cabernet de Saumur, rose; Coteaux de Saumur, a medium sweet white; Saumur-Champigny, red; Cabernet de Saumur, rose; Crémant de Loire sparkling white and rose wines.
Anjou was an ancient province in France with its capital the city of Angers; the home of the Angevines. King Henry II of England, an ancestor of the reigning British royals, was born to a French Angevine family who ruled Anjou. It was only during the French revolution that Anjou was included in the new department of Maine-et-Loire.

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Bryan G. Newman

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