French food notes: a classic of Gascon cooking
In our series providing a sideways glance at French food, we look at one chef’s innovative life and ensured legacy. Also this month: designer plates as well as a wine and chocolate pairing that is heaven-sent
It is probably fair to say that not many resident Gascon mallards were in mourning on December 3 last year, when one of southwest France’s most admired and influential chefs passed away at the age of 84.
The reason for this presumed duck disdain?
The deceased was André Daguin, former chef at Auch’s Hôtel de France, who was responsible for the 1959 creation of the magret de canard as a standalone serving.
It was his inspired – and at the time groundbreaking – idea to break somewhat with the Gers tradition of either roasting the duck whole or, more often, confit-preserving the animal in pieces so it could be enjoyed throughout the cold winter months.
His desired name for the ‘maigre’ (thin – magre in Occitan – slice of fillet he cooked was maigret but the word magret stuck.
Daguin’s pan-fried, individual fillet portion, perhaps served sliced, and with a sharp fruit sauce – or with green peppercorns, one of Mr Daguin’s famous recipes from 1965 – became not only a revered local favourite but even today regularly tops ‘France’s favourite dish’ polls.
Daguin truly put Gascon cooking on the culinary map, and his loss was noted in dispatches as far-flung as the New York Times, such was his taste-making impact.
Other innovations credited to him include surf-and-turf pairings of foie gras with langoustine or scallops, and he was a passionate ambassador of his beloved local producers.
When serving a magret de canard, it is best enjoyed as rare as the diner’s taste allows – dry or overcooked duck is bitter and cloying – while ensuring that the outer layer of fat is crispy and browned.
And in honour of Mr Daguin, raise a glass of something southwestern and red before tucking in...
Starck addition brings the potager to your dinner table
Back in 2017, designer Philippe Starck put his twist on the ‘econome’ peeler for the luxury brand Degrenne, and now he has rolled out a full range of stylish tableware.
“La Vaisselle de L’Econome” are porcelain bowls and plates-come-lids, in simple two-tones and finished in enamel.
Stackable and oven-proof, they come in colours that evoke your potager: Turnip White, Pink Radish, Yellow Ginger, Swede Grey and Artichoke Green.
From €36 for four plates; www.degrenne.fr
New wine and chocolate pairing is heaven-sent
Two women who know a thing or two about ‘Grand Cru’ products have joined forces to create the ultimate wine and chocolate gift for bon viveurs.
Sophie Schÿler, winemaker at Bordeaux’s Château Kirwan, has teamed up with Hasnaâ Ferreira, a chocolate maker in Bordeaux, to pair Château Kirwan 2016 (notes of cherry, redcurrant and warm spices) and Peruvian cocoa “Piura Blanco”: two Grands Crus.
The gift set costs €65, available from www.chateau-kirwan.com