A Dish Of The French North Country

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With cooler weather, rustic dishes based on meat and potato appeal more. A French-Flemish dish from the pictured volume, Sausages With Apples and Potatoes, is one of the simplest things you can make yet has great taste if your ingredients are good.

The book, published in 1984, is part of a regional French culinary series from publisher Delta 2000 in Colmar.

Some butter, potatoes (I suggest the floury type), apples of almost any kind, and sausages are the ingredients. Oh, and a glass of beer. That’s it.

I suggest the meat be sourced from an artisan producer or even that you make the links yourself. They should be not too small but can be made from any kind of meat, a vegetarian type should work well too.

Melt some butter in a casserole or pan of any kind you can put in the oven. Peel, core, and slice apples. Peel and slice potatoes. Lay the two pommes in pan. Place sausages over. Pour beer. Bake uncovered at medium heat for about 40-60 minutes. C’est tout.

Add any seasonings liked, salt, pepper, herbs, etc. The recipe suggests sprinkling parsley on the dish before serving.

I used a mix of Budweiser Prohibition and pumpkin ale for the beer, you can use almost any type of beer, or beer and stock, or indeed wine or cider, nay water. Variants of the recipe can be found all over northern Europe, from England through French and Belgian Flanders over to Germany. Beer gives it a Franco-Belgian stamp, but I’ve found similar dishes in the English country repertoire too.

Much depends on the quality and freshness of the ingredients (even the butter), as in all cooking…

The authors include in the book a number of dishes based on beer. Whatever the true origins of a regional cuisine featuring dishes cooked with beer – as I wrote some time ago, there is reason to think “beer cuisine” is a relatively recent development – the results are succulent for the most part. The authors were teachers at the well-known professional training school, Michel-Servet in Lille. The recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and were obviously tested many times before publishing. The evocative photos add charm too, sans doute.

The beer dishes include baby vegetables stewed in ale, braise of rabbit, large crepes, and an unusual eggs poached in beer with aromatic vegetables. The object of the book is to present characteristic dishes of French Flanders (taking in Artois), thus many recipes eschew the malt and rely on wine, stock, or plain water as the liquid base for dishes requiring one. Some dishes use the local Dutch-style gin, or genièvre, as a flavouring agent.

The book was written some 10 years before the Internet started to have an impact world-wide. It gives every appearance of presenting in integral form an intramural cuisine, one reliant for the most part on local products, especially in this case grains, fish, northern vegetables (beets, cabbage, endive), butcher’s and hutched meat, sugar. Well-worth buying at the very small prices mentioned in the site below.

Note re image: the image was sourced from a French site offering second-hand items, here. All trade marks and other intellectual property therein belong to their lawful owner or authorized users. Image believed available for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.