Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cabbage and leek soup, brussels sprouts sautéd with garlic, and southern fried guineafowl

I had so much raw cabbage, leeks and brussels sprouts left over from my first two recipes that I decided to abstain for a day from buying new ingredients and just use what I already had.

The easy solution was to take the leeks and cabbage and just make soup! I started by throwing a dollop of duck fat (any fat would work) into a big pot and browning thinly sliced leeks and cabbage for a few minutes over medium-high heat. This step is not obligatory, but it gives a deeper flavour and prettier colour than if you were to just throw the vegetables raw into boiling water. I had tons of cabbage, so it was a bit of a chore to stir it around so it all got a bit browned; I gave up after a little while and just threw in the stock. I had some homemade chicken stock concentrate in the freezer (about 10 cups worth, condensed down to one cup--much better than storing all that water!) so I thawed it, dumped the concentrate and 10 cups of water into the pot, covered it up, and waited for it to come to a boil. From there it was just a question of letting it cook until the cabbage was tender.

To serve it, I took a page from traditional French cooking. In oven-safe bowls, I put some soup, a slice of homemade bread, and a generous heap of leftover 1608 and Québec gruyère-style cheese (from the Fromagerie Hamel at the Atwater Market; not the best cheese shop, but there was a super cute boy working there...), and stuck it under the broiler for about five minutes, until the cheese was browned and bubbly. Served with a selection of McAuslan beers, it was a huge hit. Hearty winter soup with homemade bread and local cheese. How could you go wrong?

Next, however, came the pièce de résistance, and my husband did all the work so he gets all the credit. And it didn't even involve cabbage.

We bought two small guineafowls (called pintade in French, a much prettier name--and aren't they funny looking birds?) at Claude & Henri. For about $13/kg, they're far more expensive than chicken, but along the same lines as most game birds. I've been playing with game birds lately, but anything you can do with a game bird you can do with a chicken. Andrew, being a professional cook, took great pride in butchering the whole birds into their constituent pieces, ending up with a plateful of beautiful thighs, drumsticks, and breasts and a big pile of necks, backbones, wingtips, and internal organs from which I will make some stock this afternoon. He then allowed them to fully dry on the outside, coated them with buttermilk and a southern-style breading, and dropped them into our brand new deep fryer (a wedding gift from Lauren Canepari--Thanks!). I'll have to let him expand on the breading process (please comment, Andy). He also prepared a dipping sauce made from butter, honey, lemon juice, and I don't remember what else (more comments, please) which was delectable. Only problem was that I couldn't be bothered to dip the bird, it was so painfully delicious on its own. Deep frying may have a reputation for being unhealthy (humbug!) but it has persisted as a popular cooking method because it so perfectly preserves the juiciness and flavour of whatever you put into it. Mmmmmm.

To accompany the guineafowl, I used the remaining brussels sprouts from the other night, and did a minor variation on my usual sauté with garlic. I used about half sliced sprouts (basically just a pile of little leafy rings) and half halved sprouts (I only removed the brown base of the sprout, and then chopped it in half), steamed them for about two minutes, and then tossed them in a pan with olive oil and a few cloves of crushed garlic until they were golden brown. Delicious and easy. But easily ignored next to the outrageously delicious southern fried fowl.


  1. And, for everyone's information, the guineafowl is native to Africa (hence the name), and may generally be difficult to find in North America, but in Quebec they're very common in higher end butcher shops. The meat is very dark, but not too gamey if the bird is farm-raised. Quite similar to chicken, but smaller.

  2. Hey Mark! So glad you guys like my deep fryer :-) Hope married life is treating you well!