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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cerf - Venison. Venison in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Red deer
Cerf means venison and venison means deer. Deer will be on many French menus and available in the supermarket and butcher’s shops all year round.  Nearly all French venison comes from farmed deer, and with a lower fat and cholesterol content than beef, pork or lamb it is enjoyed as a healthy alternative. 
French farmed deer include the Chevreuil, the roe deer; the Daim Européen, the fallow deer and the Cerf Rouge, red deer.  In the hunting season the Cerf Sika, the sika or Japanese deer may be on some menus. 
Wild and farm-raised deer feed on grass, lichens, vegetables, fungi, and fruit with wild deer adding tree bark to their diet in winter.  Farmed deer have a distinct,  tender, mild flavored meat while wild deer needs a great deal of preparation. Wild deer will be marinated and usually prepared as roasts or stews and may have a gamey taste. Apart from special Menus de Chasse, hunting menus, when wild game of all types may be on the menu the word sauvage, wild, is added to indicate wild  deer.

Cerf Rouge, Cerf Élaphe or Cerf Noble – The European red deer.
Red deer are the largest mammal in Europe, they can reach 200 kilos (442 lbs). An adult red deer is a cerf, a young male, under six months of age, is called a faon; from here comes the English word fawn. At two years a young female red deer is considered mature and called a biche.  The English word bitch comes from the French biche. When a menu uses the word cerf alone, then it will be the red deer.
Red deer on French menus:

Carpaccio de Cerf Sauvage à la Roquette et au Parmesan – A Carpaccio of wild red deer served with rocket and Parmesan cheese
Rôti de Cerf Rouge, Purée de Betterave Blanche, Crosnes, Shiitake et Pulpe de Canneberges –  Roasted, farmed, red deer served with pureed white beetroot, Japanese artichokes, shiitake mushrooms and European cranberry pulp. The crosne, the so-called Japanese artichoke are small knobby tubers and look like a small Jerusalem artichoke. They have become an interesting addition to many French menus.
Civet de Cerf Sauce Grand Veneur et Polenta – A farmed, red deer stew served with a Grand Veneur sauce accompanied by polenta. A Grand Veneur is a great hunter, and the sauce with that name is traditionally served with game. The sauce's recipe has changed over time and now is usually made with red wine, wine vinegar, stock, butter, fresh berries, dried juniper berries, and crème fraîche.  The polenta, cornmeal cake, on this menu listing was never a uniquely Italian dish; it was a basic food all around the Mediterranean and saved millions of peasants from starvation.  Today polenta has become a fashionable side dish though today’s French farmers, no longer peasants, mostly ignore polenta and buy pasta, rice and or potatoes in the supermarket.  Civets are stews primarily associated with rabbit, hare, and sometimes young, wild boar, but tasty recipes are for sharing, and so here we have a red deer civet.

Filet de Cerf Sauvage Choux de Bruxelles Pommes de Terre Confits, Thym, Citron – Fillet of wild red deer, a cut from the tenderloin, served with Brussel’s sprouts, and potatoes baked with olive oil and garlic and flavored with thyme and lemon.  
Saucisse de Cerf Rouge sur Choucroute et Pommes Vapeur -  Red deer sausages served on the juniper berry flavored pickled cabbage of the Alsace accompanied by steamed potatoes.

Tournedos de Cerf au Foie Gras Poêlé, Sauce au Cassis   - A thick cut from a fillet of red deer accompanied by lightly fried fattened duck liver served with a redcurrant sauce.
Red deer in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan -  cérvol or cérvol comú), (Dutch -  edelhert ), (German - rothirsch  ), (Italian -  cervo nobile), (Spanish - ciervo europeo, ciervo rojo).
Chevreuil – The European Roe Deer.
Roe deer.
The roe deer is the smallest of European deer; a large roe deer may weigh 35 kilos (77 lbs). The male is called a brocard, and the female is called a chevrette.

Roe deer meat is the leanest of all deer meat and when grilled or roasted will need to be barded, wrapped in fat.
Roe deer on French Menus:
Carpaccio de Chevreuil et ChanterellesCarpaccio of roe deer served with wild chanterelle mushrooms.
Noisette de Chevreuil aux Poires Rôties et Airelles –  A small round cut of roe deer steak barded and grilled served with roast pears and European cranberries.  A noisette in French is a hazelnut and the word often used to indicate a small size or a particular color.
Gigue de Chevreuil Grand Veneur  - The haunch, the upper part of the leg, from the roe deer roasted and prepared with a  sauce Grande Veneur, a great hunter’s sauce made with red wine, wine vinegar, stock, butter, fresh berries, dried juniper berries, and crème fraîche.
Venison with Grand Veneur Sauce and Chestnut Puree.
Paté de Chevreuil Sauvage de Sologne aux Chanterelles - A pate made with the meat from wild roe deer and chanterelle mushrooms from the Sologne.   The Sologne is in North Central France and includes parts of the departments of Loiret, Loir-et-Cher and Cher in the region of Centre-Val de Loire.  This part of France covers 5,000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles) and while nearly all is private land it is well-known for its fishing and wild game.
Roe deer in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - cabirol), (Dutch - ree), (German - reh), (Italian - capriolo), (Spanish – corzo). 
Daim – The fallow deer.
Fallow deer.

The mail fallow deer is a daim, the stag, the female a daine, a doe, and the young are faons, fawns.

Fallow deer on French menus:
Daim Rôti à la Broche – Fallow deer roasted on a spit.
Médaillon de Daim, Purée de Pommes de Terre – A round or oval cut from the rump of fallow deer served with pureed potatoes.
Pavé de Daim, Sauce au Poivre – A rump steak from the fallow deer served with a pepper sauce.  A pepper sauce in France is nearly always made with green peppercorns.  Chefs want the ability to control the heat in a pepper sauce, and green pepper is much more manageable than black peppercorns.

Pavé de Daim, Sauce au Poivre
Pavé de Daim aux Cinq Baies – A thick cut of fallow deer steak; prepared with a sauce made with five different berries.  The berries used will include the Baie de Genièvre, dried juniper berries; Baies de Cassis, blackcurrants, the Bleuet, Myrtille, the billberry, the Airelle or Canneberge, the European cranberry, and the Groseille, the redcurrant.

N.B. On a dessert menu, the word daim will be indicating a tart or a sweet, a candy, with a caramel crunch, covered with a thin layer of milk chocolate.

Gibier is the French word for game, but since France farms nearly all game from sanglier, wild boar, to faisan, pheasant, menus need to be read carefully. Wild game, in season, will be on menus described as a Carte de Chasse, a hunting menu.   Wild game on a regular menu will be noted as sauvage, and that includes fish such as turbot which may be farmed but when wild it will be listed as turbot sauvage, wild turbot. When it is not clear how the game is served or its origins it is best to ask as an old wild duck can have a fishy flavor, and a mature red deer can be very gamey.

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Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google. Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 3,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.
Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2018.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Lentilles – Lentils. Lentils are all over French Menus. The Lentil in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman

Lentils are the oldest known cultivated pulse; the dried edible seeds from the legume family that includes beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils.  Lentils have been grown in France for at least 2,000 years.
France grows many different lentils but five of them will be starring on menu listings. Each offers a different taste and texture. The texture of lentils is important as some quickly lose their shape and almost dissolve; others just assume the flavors of the dishes they are served with.  The following five, except for the most important first, are listed in alphabetical order. These are the lentils that are considered the best for flavor and texture.
Lentilles Vertes du Puy-en-Velay AOC - The blue, green lentils of Puy–en-Velay that have a slightly nutty flavor. Puy-en-Velay is in the department of the Haute Loire in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. With their AOC/AOP rating, these are the most famous lentils in the world.
Lentille Blonde de Saint-Flour – The yellow and slightly sweet lentils of Saint-Flour in the department of Cantal in the region of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
Lentillon Rosé de Champagne - The pink lentils of Champagne, also called the Lentillon Champenoise. Despite their name, these slightly sweet lentils are a light brown. They come from the home of Champagne which since 1-1-2016 is part of the new super region of Hautes de France in the Northeast of France.

Lentilles de Cilaos – Cilaos is a town close to the center of the French island region of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, 800 km east of Madagascar.  Réunion is 9200 km (5700 miles) away from France with Saint-Denis as its capital. This Indian Ocean island is just as much a part of France as Paris, gendarmes direct the traffic, and you may have a baguette for breakfast.  You will pay for your breakfast and everything else in Euros. 

Réunion is also home to the coveted Label Rouge, red label, Ananas Victoria, the Queen Victoria miniature pineapple that is considered the tastiest pineapple in the world. Apart from highly rate lentils and pineapples rum is produced on  Réunion under a fantastic number of labels. 
Lentille Verte du Berry, Label Rouge – The yellow-green lentils from Berry with a mild chestnut flavor. The old province of Berry is in the Centre-Val de Loire.  These are France’s only label rouge, red label lentil. They were the first dried vegetable to be awarded the Label Rouge, the Red Label, for their consistent quality.

Lentilles on French Menus:
Lentilles Vertes du Puy:

Diots de Savoie Fumée aux Lentilles Vertes du Puy aux Épices Douces, Chou Rouge Croquant –   Diot sausages from the departments of Savoie in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, served with the lentils from Puy flavored with sweet herbs and spices and served with crunchy red cabbage.  Diots, are made with steamed or smoked pork and often include cabbage and maize (corn flour) in their ingredients. 
Pavé de Saumon au Lard, Lentilles Vertes du Puy  - A thick cut of salmon lightly fried in bacon and served with the lentils from Puy.
Petit Salé aux Lentilles Verte du Puy –  Salted pork with the lentils  from Puy.  Salted pork entered the French and British kitchens through the foods that could be stored for long sea voyages. Salted pork with lentils is a French comfort food and often on bistro menus.   
Lentille Blonde de Saint-Flour:

The Viaduc de Garabit
Built just15km (9miles) from Saint-Flour
by Gustave Eiffel the man who built the Eiffel Tower.
Poté Auvergnate aux Lentilles Blondes de Saint Flour - Potée Auvergnate is the Auvergne’s Pot-au-Feu, here prepared with lentils from Saint-Flour. Potée Auvergnate may include duck, ham, pork, and pork sausages. 
Saucisse Maison Gratinée au Cantal Doux et Lentilles Blondes de Saint-Flour – A homemade sausage browned under the grill with a young Cantal cheese and the lentils from Saint-Flour. France’s AOP Cantal cheese and the lentils from Saint-Flour come from the department of Cantal in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Velouté de Lentilles Blondes de Saint-Flour, Chips de Lard Paysan – A velvety textured soup made from lentils from Saint-Flour served with farmhouse style crispy pieces of bacon.

Lentillon Rosé de Champagne:

Roulé de Saumon Fumé Maison et Lentillons Rosé de Champagne – A roll of house smoked salmon filled with the lentils from champagne.
Velouté de Lentillons Roses de Champagne – A velvety lentil soup made with the lentils from Champage.
Salade de Lentillons Roses de Champagne et Hareng Fumé Servie Tiède  - A salad made with the lentils from Champagne served with warm smoked herring.

Lentilles de Cilaos:


Cuisse de Canard Fumée aux Lentilles de Cilaos – Smoked leg of duck served with  Cilaos lentils.
Côtes de Porc Fumées aux Lentilles de Cilaos – Smoked pork chops prepared with Cilaos lentils.
Mijoté de Bœuf aux Lentilles de Cilaos  - Slowly simmered beef served with  Cilaos lentils.

Lentille Verte du Berry IGP:

Lentilles Verte du Berry

Someone checking the origins of these lentils may see that they are grown in Champagne Berrichonne and ask where the vineyards are. Champagne Berrichone is a broad open plain, mostly used for raising cattle and there are no sparkling wines there. Champagne was an old Roman word for a type of soil.

Cappuccino de Lentilles du Berry  - A frothy soup made from the green lentils from Berry. The word cappuccino initially had nothing to with froth on a Cappucino coffee. The name Cappuccino came from the color of the hood of a Capuchin friar's robe. The Italians saw the resemblance and gave cappuccino coffee its name.  Chefs from France, Italy, and elsewhere have gone on to created dishes, mostly soups, and desserts where the word cappuccino indicates froth.    N.B. No serious coffee bar in France or Italy offers a Cappuccino coffee made with whipped cream, only whipped froth.

Ris de Veau Poêlés aux Lentilles Vertes du Berry Veal sweetbreads served with the green lentils of Berry

Salade de Lentilles Vertes du Berry à la Ciboulette et au Vinaigre de Xérès – A salad of the green lentils from Berry prepared with chives and sherry vinegar.
Another lentil on sale in France is called the Lentille Beluga or the Lentille de Caviar.  These lentils are almost entirely round and black and sold by their name's association with caviar.  At a market stall selling all of France's lentils and dried beans, I was told that their reputation is just hype and that they lose their roundness and a lot of their color when cooked.

France with five famous lentils and many others not so famous still does not produce enough for even 50% of the demand.  Nearly all the rest of the lentils, including the caviar lentil, come from Canada.
Lentils in the market
The earliest written recipes for lentils come from ancient Egypt where among the foods left for the dead in the pyramids are lentils. The Egyptians had imported lentils from India and from Egypt they were distributed by the Phoenicians who were the Mediterranean's sea-based wholesalers. Lentils reached Greece and Rome, and those two countries brought lentils to France.  (The Old Testament dish where Esau sold his birthright to Jacob was probably lentils).

Antonin Carême and lentils.

Lentils, in France, since the Middle Ages were associated with the poor. Then Antonin Carême, France’s most famous chef included lentils in his books in the early 19th century and suddenly they were on everyone's tables.  They have stayed on the menus of the poor and rich alike since then.
The book below may be read for free on the website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, France’s National Library. It may also be downloaded for a minimal charge. 

The Maître d’Hôtel Française shows menu listings from Antonin Carême’s time in England where he was Chef to the Prince Regent, later George IV, and in St Petersburg where he was chef to the Alexander I of Russia and Vienna where he was chef to the British Ambassador. Search it for the dishes, including those with lentils, that Carême served to his royal paymasters.

Amazon sells a facsimile reprint of the original from the1822 edition published in 2010 but it’s still in French.


Link to the French National Library edition:

The second book is the 1903 Le Guide Culinaire written by Escoffier, Gilbert, and Fetu the three most famous chefs of the early  20th century.

Amazon offers an abridged 1979 English translation:
Link to the French National Library edition:

Connected Posts:




Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google. Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 3,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.
Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2018.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman