Thursday, 21 November 2013

Caghuse Or Something A Bit Like It

The cuisine of Picardy is not the best-known or trendiest style of French cooking but I don’t care. I like it anyway. The dishes tend to be straightforward, made with familiar ingredients and are full of strong, comforting flavours. Admittedly, some of them can also be pretty rich and a stranger to the notion of portion control. Caghuse is one of the more restrained Picardy recipes. It’s often served cold in Picardy but, while there’s nothing wrong with that,  I think it’s nicest served hot on a cold day.

There are different ways of spelling the name of this dish and there are many different ways to make it too. Essentially it’s a one pot dish of slow-cooked pork with onions and vinegar but there are plenty of possible variations along the way. I use chicken stock and cider but beef stock and beer can be used instead. You could also add some herbs to the dish, if you fancy – sage and thyme work well. Strictly speaking, the pork should be cut from the leg and should be on the bone, but I use boneless shoulder steaks, which are usually decently priced and work well for me. A few of the fine new potatoes grown in Picardy are probably the most common accompaniment, but some restaurants serve the dish with rice or chips. I wouldn't say no to some green beans alongside too, possibly tossed with a fair bit of garlic.

This will serve 4.
Caghuse
800 g boneless pork shoulder steaks (preferably not too thin)
400 g onions (prepared weight)
A generous knob of butter (or lard)
100 ml dry cider (or beer – a bière de garde would be ideal)
40 ml cider vinegar
150 ml chicken stock (or use a beef stock)
½ tsp sugar (this is definitely optional, but I like a trace of extra sweetness in this dish)

Ideally choose a casserole dish that can be used both on the hob and in the oven and is large enough to contain all the pork in a single layer. Cut the onions into thick slices. (I cut off the top and base of the onions, peel them, slice them into segments from top to bottom and then separate the layers).

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the casserole on the hob and melt the butter over a medium heat. Fry the pork until it’s lightly coloured on both sides. Remove the pork, turn down the heat and deglaze with the cider and cider vinegar. (Don’t allow the cider and vinegar mix to reduce too much). Spread half of the sliced onions over the base of the casserole. Season well with salt and pepper. (You could add a little sage or thyme at this stage if you fancied it). Return the pork and any juices to the casserole on top of the layer of onions. Again, season well with salt and pepper. Scatter over the rest of the onions and sprinkle over the sugar, if you’re using it. Pour in the chicken stock.

Cover the casserole and place in the oven for 2 hours (Check after an hour that it’s not drying out too much). After 2 hours the pork should be very tender and the onions should be soft. Remove the casserole lid and continue cooking for further 20 minutes. At the end of this time the liquid in the casserole should have reduced and the onions should have taken on some colour. Make sure that the dish doesn’t dry out completely, though.

It’s now ready to serve, assuming that you want to eat it hot. At this stage, some restaurants stir in a tablespoonful or two of crème fraîche to enrich and extend the sauce. It may not be traditional, but it’s a very pleasing addition if you want a little luxury and you don’t mind the extra calories.

-

The theme for the Autumn Four Seasons Food Challenge is 'Soups, Stews and One Pot Wonders'. I'm not sure that I'm ever capable of wonders but I did only use one pot, so hopefully this will do as an entry.

Four Seasons Food
Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg

10 comments:

  1. This is just the thing for this cold weather, and I have some pork to use up. I love everyday French recipes, good homely cooking.

    ReplyDelete
  2. One of my favourite regional French dishes and I am minded to make that myself, as I have all the ingredients to hand. Karen

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bet that tastes wonderful. Have a good day, Diane

    ReplyDelete
  4. Delicious and such a fine looking dish; loved all the caramalised onions around it too - my husband would love this one, thanks for inspiring : )

    ReplyDelete
  5. It certainly looks like a wonder to me, absolutely delicious!
    Pork and cider definitely make me happy, I must try this recipe, so thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree with Jean, it certainly looks like a fine One Pot 'Wonder' to me. And feeling a little shameful I've never heard of the dish despite living in France for nearly three years (admittedly way down near the Pyrenees!). Sounds like a very fabulously tasty dish though and just perfect for this harsh November weather. Thanks so much for entering Four Seasons Food!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you can be forgiven for not having heard of this dish. There's a big difference between the north and south of France (and that's a good thing if you ask me). As someone in the north of France once said to me when I told him I was on my way to the Gers: 'Ah, l'autre bout du monde.'

      Delete
  7. I often cook pork with cider but this sounds good and I will try this out. Re Ile de Re, I gather that all the Parisians have holiday homes there but we did not bump into any film stars. Having said that. we seldom go to films so if I had tripped over them I would not have known who they are!! Have a good week. Diane

    ReplyDelete
  8. And to further my case of this being a One Pot Wonder, your recipe's just won November's Four Seasons Food challenge!. Well done, gorgeous recipe that I shall be trying one day very soon :) We'll be putting the post on our Four Season's Food Winner Galleries and you're welcome to grap the Winner's badge and place it on your blog. I'll email it to you!.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm very pleased and grateful to have been selected from such a fine set of recipes in your challenge, especially since I have a bit of an obsession with northern French recipes at the moment. There are some that seem just right for these cold, grey days.

      Delete