Montmartre Memories

The best meal I've ever eaten was in a teeny restaurant on a cobbled street of Montmarte, Paris. This highly esteemed dish was provencal style chicken casserole with Dauphinoise potatoes and green beans. Gorgeous, garlicy, creamy deliciousness so good that five years later I still remember how it tasted. Last Saturday I decided to treat the boy to an epic home made meal inspired by this French classic, with my interpretation of this dish.

After a quick google I decided I was feeling confident enough to pretty much make up this recipe as I went along! Some suggested I added olives but as I can't stand them I decided to leave them out.

In the end the ingredients I decided on for the casserole were:
- 4 de-boned chicken thighs
- 3 sausages (the variety I had were mysteriously labelled 'herb' flavour. An Aldi special)
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- a shed load of garlic (I lost count after a while. May have been a whole bulb...)
- splash of white wine (I used whatever was left in the fridge but think any dry variety would work)
- tin of chopped tomatoes
- handful of green beans

I loosely stuck to a BBC food recipe for the Dauphinoise as I'd never made them before so for these I used:
- 3 baking potatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 300ml double cream

(Serves one hungry Francophile and one greedy rugby player.)
 Carnations optional

I started off by pre-heating the oven to 160C and heating some oil in a large pan. I popped the sausages and chicken thighs in to brown while I chopped the pepper and onion.

I let the meat cook pretty much all the way through before adding in the onion and pepper. After the veggies had softened for a couple of minutes I went to town crushing in the garlic. The smell of cooking garlic wafting through the kitchen is one of the best smells in the world don't you think? Once this had all cooked through I added a splash of wine and let it simmer down while the alcohol cooked off.

Next I added the chopped tomatoes, turned the heat right down and let it just sit bubbling happily while I washed and chopped the green beans.


Once the beans were looking a bit neater I transferred all the ingredients from the pan into a casserole dish, then topped it up with a bit of water and dropped the beans on top. Lid on and into the oven it went.

Next it was onto the spuds. I'm not much of a knife ninja so some of my discs were a little bit fatter than others, but I was aiming for them all to be around 3mm thick. As I was peeling and cutting the potatoes I popped the discs into a bowl of cold water to stop them from browning.

Once all my discs were ready I drained them then put them back into the bowl to mix with the cream, garlic, salt and pepper. I found that the garlic sank to the bottom, which may have been because I didn't grate it fine enough so had to scoop a lot of it out when adding into the baking dish.

After I'd mixed the potatoes with the cream I started building the layers in the dish. At this point I realised just how badly I'd cut some of them! Definitely need to work on chopping like a pro. The BBC recipe recommended squishing the layers down with the back of a wooden spoon which was a pretty nifty trick. Once the layers were all pressed together I poured over the cream from the bowl, until just below the top layer of discs. Then into the oven it went, happily set next to the casserole.

After an hour of trying not to spy in the oven I opened the door to the amazing site of a perfectly golden, bubbling dish of potatoes and the smell of garlic heaven that took me all the way back to that Montmartre restaurant. 

Needless to say that when I dished this up to the boy he was hugely impressed. The potatoes were amazing but the casserole, while it was delicious, wasn't a patch on my 'best meal ever'. Guess there's only one thing for it. I'll have to go straight back to Paris for recipe research!

What's your best ever food memory? Let me know in the comments or on twitter!

1 comment:

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