Discover the delights of a smoked magret (duck breast).
ALISSA DICKER is a member of THE NIBBLE’s editorial staff. In addition to writing about food, she also teaches cooking.
D’Artagnan Specialty Meats
A Celebration Of Foie Gras, Saucisson, Wild Boar, Duck & Rabbit
CAPSULE REPORT: D’Artagnan, one of the most respected names in foie gras, duck and other specialty meats, isn’t just for special occasions. But order any of their products and it will be a special occasion at your home. Alissa Dicker reports.
As much as we love to spend hours, even days, planning elaborate dinner parties, we know that the hectic pace of life can give even the most seasoned hostess pause before calling over the whole gang. Fortunately, a charcuterie* plate, one of the most attractive, mouthwatering ways to please your hungry masses, takes only minutes to prepare—because it’s already cooked. On a board or platter, arrange your choice of these crowd-pleasing cured meats, sausages, pâtés and mousses.
- Serve them with some toast points and slices of baguette and rustic country loaves.
- Add pickled vegetables, from cornichons (French gherkins) to the broader variety of gourmet pickled asparagus, green beans and other treasures (take a look at the variety from Tillen Farms, and McSweets pickled garlic and onions).
- Next, select hunks of hard cheese—French ones, of course, like Beaufort, Cantal, Comté or Salers.
- Then, add peppery microgreens, grainy mustards, chunky marmalades or chutneys and butter.
- Finish with D’Artagnan’s truffle butter, one step beyond divine.
*The word charcuterie is French, based on chair cuit, meaning cooked meat. Specifically, charcuterie refers to preserved meat products sold by a charcutier, including hams, sausages, terrines, pâtés, galantines and forcemeats. The category was originally limited to pork products, but today can include items made from veal, game, vegetables or fish.
LEARN YOUR SPECIALTY MEATS
SEE THE DIFFERENT CHARCUTERIE, PÂTÉS AND SAUSAGES
IN OUR CHARCUTERIE GLOSSARY
We recently had a chance to sample charcuterie from D’Artagnan, one of the leading American purveyors of specialty meats, foie gras, organic game and chicken, sausages and pâtés, among other items. For more than two decades, the company has supplied many of America’s leading restaurants (it is credited as being one of the major forces in bringing foie gras onto the nation’s culinary scene). Its prepared foods are crafted according to traditional recipes from Gascony, the region of southwest France where D’Artagnan’s founder, Ariane Daguin, was born.
While we didn’t have a chance to taste everything this fine company produces, here’s a good starter plan, with easy hors d’oeuvre and appetizer suggestions, should you wish to take these foods beyond the charcuterie spread. D’Artagnan’s line is vast, and no one needs much arm-twisting for further exploration. Why not plan a monthly D’Artagnan dinner as a family treat? Or, if you’re looking for a special first course or a gift for a food-loving friend, you can’t do better than to start here.
Duck Foie Gras with 2% Truffles Medallion
Talk about indulgence! This creamy, crumbly mousse of duck foie gras is packed with black truffle pieces and spiked with Sauternes. The truffles, which provide a gentle crunch against the nougat-colored paste, have a deep, earthy flavor that becomes more pronounced as the rich mousse melts in your mouth.
- Scoop the mousse into a pretty bowl. Serve with toasted brioche, roasted fruits, Sauternes jelly or other sweet confitures or preserves (sour cherry and fig work especially well).
- Transfer the mousse to a pastry bag and pipe it into pastry shells or moist Medjool dates or large prunes. You can soak them overnight in Armagnac; D’Artagnan sells them this way, called French Kisses. But honestly, we prefer them without the added hooch.
Wild Boar Saucisson
This high-quality dry sausage (saucisson is the French word) is made from boars raised on 1,100 acres of wilderness preserve in Saskatchewan. They are descendents of the black Russian boar, which was brought to the United States in the 1940s for sport hunting. These free-roaming beasts enjoy a foraged diet of acorns, nuts, heather and berries, which gives the saucisson a meatier taste than your average pork sausage. Buttery and extremely flavorful, this brick-red stick makes a perfect pantry standby in case of unexpected guests. It’s also an addictive everyday snack.
- A classic, shown in the photo above: a slice of baguette spread with D’Artagnan’s black truffle butter, topped with a slice of wild boar saucisson, garnished with a tangy cornichon.
- Serve slices of boar sausage with buttered toast, pickled vegetables and/or hard cheese. It makes a great lunch!
- Finely chop the sausage and fold it into a deviled egg filling.
- Cut the sausage into small cubes and use it to top eggs, creamy dips, potatoes—any place you’d like a meaty accent.
Jambon de Bayonne
D’Artagnan’s preservative-free “French prosciutto” is naturally cured and dry aged for at least 12 months. It gives off a honey-like, almost leathery smell and has a sweet saltiness that lingers on the tongue. With a pleasing chewiness and elasticity, it makes an interesting change of pace from its Italian and Spanish cousins, prosciutto and Serrano ham, which tend to have a somewhat drier texture and more concentrated flavor.
- Wrap slices around fresh figs, melon, grissini (slender Italian breadsticks), chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano or dried fruit.
- Serve it atop pan con tomate: Rub toasted bread (preferably baguette, halved lengthwise) with a clove of garlic, then with half a tomato, squeezing the tomato to help release its juices. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve a tasting of French-, Italian-, and Spanish-style cured hams. An olive tasting is a nice accompaniment.
- Go picnicking with a crusty baguette, some great French wines and cheeses.
Smoked Duck Breast
This peppery, juicy and just-smoky-enough duck breast comes fully cooked, so it’s ready to slice and serve. The thick layer of fat on the top is a connoisseur’s delight; but if it’s interdit on your diet, just remove it (it pulls right off) and enjoy the lean, pink, perfectly-seasoned meat.
- Fan slices on salads. Try it on a bed of baby arugula, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. It’s a lovely first course.
- Make deconstructed “pastrami” sandwiches: Serve slices with rye toasts, grainy mustard and cornichons.
- Duck takes well to sweet-salty combinations, so try it with a balsamic reduction or with capers and raisins that have been warmed in butter. Or both!
Rabbit and Ginger Sausage
O.K., this one’s not pre-cooked. But it was too tasty to leave off our list, and it’s easy to prepare in minutes. Just sear the sausages in a pan, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through. These pale, moist sausages, which contain no artificial ingredients, preservatives or colorings, at first bite give off a subtle, light flavor. But, wait a moment and ginger and a hint of garlic descend on the palate, giving the sausage an Asian flair. Light, succulent and unusual, these will be a regular on our table.
- Keep it simple: Slice ‘em, cook ‘em (or cook ‘em, then slice ‘em) and serve with toothpicks. As a condiment, fill a dish with soy sauce and sprinkle with thinly sliced scallions, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes (you can add a drop of mirin, rice wine vinegar, if you have it).
- Crumble and stir-fry with leeks and cabbage. Serve with a stack of Bibb or romaine lettuce wraps, soy sauce (or the aforementioned soy dip) and lemon or lime wedges.
- Sauté with thinly-sliced garlic and chiles; toss with spaghetti and olive oil and top with fresh-toasted breadcrumbs.
- Remove the casing and use the meat as ravioli filling.
- Pile atop fried wontons with garlicky aioli and chives.
Boy, are we hungry. It’s time to call up the gang and invite them over for some beer, wine and good charcuterie.
French Pâté, Sausages, Duck and Charcuterie
French Kisses are
Armagnac-soaked prunes, stuffed with foie gras mousse.
- Smoked Duck Breast
12-Ounce Breast Half
5.33-Ounce Quarter Breast
- Rabbit & Ginger Sausage
Purchase online* at Dartagnan.com
*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. THE NIBBLE does not sell products; these items are offered by a third party and we have no relationship with them. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.
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