Lo Magret goes to Paris!

André Daguin, chef/owner of the Hôtel de France in Auch (Gers) until 1997, tells how he gave a new life to the tasty magret de canard — and made it famous in the process:

magret

“The magret was served only as “confit” in soups, cassoulets and everyone would find it dry. The only way to avoid that was to cook it less, but no one dared. I had arguments with my customers; they couldn’t believe it was duck meat! Bob Daley, the New York Times journalist, reported on the discovery of this ‘new’ meat.”

In Occitan-Gascon the word magret —from the latin magre, literally means “lean”. It is definitely the leanest piece of the canard gras — that is the fattened moulard duck raised for foie gras. To make moulard ducks fat, force-feeding is required for a few weeks.

A bas relief depiction of overfeeding geese

This ancient technique seems to be referenced as far back as the 5th century BC. The Moulard duck is a hybrid cross of Pekin and Muscovy duck. Do not confuse Moulard with the very lean wild Mallard duck.

magret

The magret is the breast that is detached from the carcass once the liver had carefully being extracted. In the canard gras nothing goes to waste. The skin is rendered for fat; the fat is then used to simmer the legs and manchons (wings). Once cooked this meat is known as le confit. Le confit is then stored in earthenware pots, covered with fat to seal it, and used throughout the winter in various preparations. The hearts (look here), livers, gizzards are pan fried with garlic and parsley, the carcasses (called “demoiselles” —or the misses) & tongues are grilled in the fireplace for snacks.

Speaking of carcasses: in 1990, while  doing an internship at the Daguin’s restaurant I witnessed a “concours de demoiselles” organized by the Château St. Mont in Plaimont (Gers). The goal of the “carcass eating/cleaning contest” is to eat as many demoiselles as possible in the least amount of time while leaving the bones clean as a whistle. The winner then stepped on a Roman scale and the opposite pan was filled with cases of Château St. Mont wine until it balanced!

carte tour Eiffel

Another anecdote related to magret took place at the top floor restaurant of the Eiffel Tower in December of 1967. Jean & Renée Peyrafitte, my parents, & André & Jo Daguin, Ariane’s parents, were handed over the restaurant for La Quinzaine Midi-Pyrénées à la Tour Eiffel —two weeks of French Southwest fare in the skies of Paris — kind of the birth/ recognition of Cuisine du Terroir. I didn’t get to go, but I was 8 years old and I still remember all the excitement. The opening event was a banquet for the food writers and VIP’s. One of the most exciting items on the menu was the newly ‘dressed’ magret de canard. The magrets had been shipped from the Gers to arrive just on time, but on the morning of the event they had not yet arrived. The magrets were replaced with lamb and as in the Vatel story —though unlike Vatel my dad & André Daguin kept their calm and didn’t need to end their lifes over the problem— the magrets arrived during the luncheon. André Daguin, who like his daughter is never short of a creative idea when it comes to p.r., announced to the press that the magrets had just arrived; he showed them what they looked like, explained how to prepare them and one their way out all the diners were handed a magret wrapped in foil.  They got many write-ups, lot of word of mouth publicity and the restaurant was packed for the two full weeks!

Today you can purchase magret through the d’Artagnan website. Some specialty store have duck breast but most of the time there are Muscovy Duck breast, which are good but smaller.  One of my favorite recipe that I used to make often at the family restaurant is Magret with walnut and honey glaze. I made it the other night and yum! it is tasty.

Recipe for Magret aux Noix et au Miel:

magret sauteed

2 Moulard magrets can serve 4
1 Shallot finely chopped
½ cup of Armagnac or Brandy
1 cup of stock or 2 tablespoon of demi-glace
2 teaspoons of honey
2 Tbsp shelled walnuts
1 tbsp of unsalted butter

Score the skin of the duck magret. Do not cut into the meat, only the skin.
Salt and pepper both side.
Place in a warm skillet on the skin side — no need to add  fat, the skin will render plenty.
Cook for about 8 minutes or so on the skin side —if you like it pink. More for well done.
Flip it over on the meat side for about 4 minutes.
Remove from the pan keep the magret between two plates to avoid loss of heat.
Drain the fat from the pan except for about 1 tablespoon—keep fat to sauté potatoes.
Sauté ½ cup of shallots until translucent.
Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of Armagnac and flambé —I alway turn off the fan when I do it.
Add 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 cup of broth or better, some demi-glace.
Let reduce, then add 2 Tbsp shelled walnuts —do not let the walnuts sit too long in the pan as they will give a bitter taste to your sauce.
Cut you magret in slices horizontally, pour all the juice in the sauce pan.
At the last minute finish your sauce with a dollop of soft butter, salt & pepper to taste.
Serve with your favorite starch.
Thanks again and again to Renée Peyrafitte for saving & scanning the original documents.
Merci à André Daguin de répondre à mes questions.
And taben mercès pla ta l’amic Marc per l’ajude dab los mots en Gascon!
Adishatz!



“The Hopeless Poem” now in English!


BioBois
#6 ©Nicole Peyrafitte

While I was in France this summer I posted a new poem in French called “L’Espoir Tue”. A couple of weeks ago, while sharing pierogies and carrot cake at the Stage Dinner in the East Village with our dear friend Stash, the conversation came about *hope* & I told him about my poem. Though we still disagree about hope, Stash was willing to help translate it into English. Stash Luczkiw is a journalist/editor for Cartier Magazine and a poet originally from New York who has been in leaving in Milan for over 10 years.

Hope Kills

(after an article by Dr. Fogarty)

Hope is an inescapable and very hard-to-cure disease
Hope is a mirror that offers a blurry and idealized reflection of my desires
Hope—like daylilies—invades and depletes my essential resources for sustainable growth
Hope is a toxic fantasy of the future
Hope fills the necessary voids with synthetic satisfaction
Hope prevents neither death nor suffering
Hope could be
should be
maybe will be
but is not

And oh, yes! Hope inspires calm
it promises abundance to the rich as well as to the poor

Without hope the love of happiness detaches itself
to make way for an inevitable and uncomfortable reality

But it is there
stripped of all artifice
without prestige
without seduction
without escape—
and with much less consumption
that the quest begins
&
Life opens

Nicole Peyrafitte
Original Title in French : L’Espoir Tue
Assistance to English Translation: Stash Luczkiw

Back from Albany (Capital City of New York State!)

Mike Bisio and I whipped cream at Justin’s on Thursday night. We had a big, wonderful and most of all very attentive crowd. The best audience I ever had at Justin’s so far. We mostly performed originals, contemporary poems with only a dash of French songs and jazz standards. Mike played two incredibly moving solos, one was John Coltrane’s Alabama & the second was a piece he created on September 11th, 2001 – as he was in the studio that day. By the way Mike Bisio will be playing next Saturday, 9/20 at The Clean Feed Fest at the Living Theatre with Basso Continuo : Stephen Gauci, Nate Wooley, Ken Filiano and Mike Bisio. Starts at 9pm. I will be there!

I also wanted to note that on Wednesday my younger son Miles Joris-Peyrafitte had his first solo public appearance as a singer/songwriter at the famous Tess’ Lark Tavern open mike hosted by the rock goddess of Upstate New York: Mother Judge. Miles did very well: he also accompanied me on guitar on my song the Brooklyn Bridge & on a poem by his father, Pierre Joris. After that he played drums for his long time friend, the very talented Lindsey Rogowski.

One of the poems Mike Bisio and I performed on Thursday was by Mustafa Benfodil. I met Mustafa at the Festival “Voix de la Méditéranée” in Lodève and really liked his work. With his permission I would like to post the poem I translated and performed with Mike Bisio on Thursday. Voilà for now, enjoy this short, but intense poem and THANK YOU so much if you were in the audience on Thursday & always THANK YOU to the wonderful crew at Justin’s for their graciousness –and I know this week was very hard for them as their were dealing with the sudden loss of one of their very dear co-worker. Merci à tous!

Lune de miel à Baghdad
Nous nous sommes connus à Gaza
Nous nous sommes aimés à Ramallah
Nous nous sommes embrassés à Beyrouth
Nous nous sommes mariés à Alger
Nous nous sommes envolés à Baghdad
Nous sommes morts sous les bombes
Et nos coeurs ont fondé une ONG
Pour la protection des amours à haut risque
Et la continuation de la passion sous les tombes!

Honey moon in Baghdad
We met in Gaza
We loved in Ramallah
We kissed in Beirut
We wed in Algiers
We flew to Baghdad
We died under the bombs
& our hearts founded a NGO
for the protection of high risk love
& the continuation of passion under the tombs!

Poem by Mustafa Benfodil translated by Nicole Peyrafitte

Events 09/11 & 09/14

Getting ready to go to Albany to see my family but also looking forward to gig with Mike Bisio the grand bassist & composer extraodinaire on Thursday Sept 11 @ Justin’s 9PM.

We will perform mostly originals, contemporary poetry and maybe our signature song or is it a dish? Pierre Joris posted two videos of Mike and I on his blog. Speaking of Pierre, he and I will be part of a celebration I am very much looking forward to:

At the Bowery Poetry Club, Sunday, September 14, 4:00 to 6:00PM

jerry rothenberg

Jerome Rothenberg will be hosting a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Technicians of the Sacred, which brought a global range of oral & tribal poetry into focus & launched ethnopoetics as a new approach to poetry & performance. Joining him will be a group of active poets & performers including Charles Bernstein, Bob Holman, Pierre Joris, Charlie Morrow, Nicole Peyrafitte, Diane Rothenberg, Carolee Schneemann, & Cecilia Vicuña. (Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, between Houston & Bleecker, in NYC.)
Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, Second edition, Revised and Expanded


and for the new French edition, http://www.jose-corti.fr/titresmerveilleux/techniciensSacre.htm