French food focus - September 2019
A focus on food in France. This month, we meet Mr Cochon, a medieval cheese and discover ‘Cèpes in oil’
Meet the producers
Liz and Phil Prosser moved to Suris in Charente five years ago, and say setting up their pork butcher’s, called Monsieur Cochon, was easy. “The Chambre d’Agriculture was really helpful – much better than Defra in the UK,” says Liz. “It took just an hour to get our Siret number.”
They had owned a high street butcher’s shop in the UK, so when he met the maire, he called them ‘Monsieur Cochon’ and the name stuck.
“Phil’s family have been raising pigs for centuries,” says Liz, “so we raise our own stock, and we use Confolens because it has a really good abattoir. It’s very clean, they play music to keep the animals calm, they never slaughter more than one species in a day, and they are very strong on animal welfare.”
We collect in a refrigerated vehicle that we share with our local butcher, and we do all the initial chopping, cutting and prep in that. Then we transfer to another very big refrigerated trailer which is permanently parked on our property, where we make bacon (without nitrates), sausages, pork pies (a bit of a speciality), pasties, etc. We prepare English cuts, roasts with crackling on, stuffing, sauces and gravy, and then we then flash freeze everything immediately.”
Customers either collect orders from the farm or the Prossers deliver. “We only do pork products, except at Christmas when we also supply turkeys.” They will make any flavour of sausages to order. “We’ve made pork and beef, we even used to make chicken sausages in the UK. I don’t like making pork and apple because there are no Bramleys available here, but if people really want them, we’ll make them!
“We also supply restaurants, and we sell from a refrigerated van at various bars. We deliver throughout Haute-Vienne and Charente. We are always willing to sort something out.
“We also sell whole and half pigs to amateurs and people who do hog roasts, and piglets to people who want to grow their own. Piglets especially Tamworths, are really cute and we have enormous fun with them. You do get attached to them, but we’re butchers and you have to get quite tough. You have to steel yourself. And they do taste delicious!”
Artisan cheese of the month: Chaource
Made in the Champagne-Ardennes village of the same name since the Middle Ages, Chaource is a cow’s milk cheese with a spreadable texture – perfect for slathering on a hunk of crusty baguette.
A creamier version of Camembert with hints of mushroom on the plate, this AOP cheese is shipped out to sellers quite young (a minimum of two weeks ageing), where it may be stored for up to a month to mature.
If you are visiting the area, do not miss the village’s museum (17, place de l’Eglise, Chaource) in the cheese’s honour.
And to buy directly from Chaource producers, visit Stéphanie et Christophe Callewaert at Fromagerie de Mussy: www.fromageriedemussy.fr
Local speciality: Cèpes in oil
The cèpe season starts round about now and is brief, so if you buy some from your local market or happen to know of a good hunting ground, you may want to preserve some for rainy days.
If not, buy them dried or preserved in oil – a technique perfected by one of the most reputed ‘canneries’ in the Bordeaux region: Conserves Garde founded in 1955 in Libourne.
Drain and serve with meat or in an omelette.
Available from www.bienmanger.com