April 11, 2011

Woodland Beauty Inspired by Sologne!

Sologne is a region of north-central France, stretching southeast of Blois, and  is one of those traditionally rural regions of France that help keep alive the national self-image. Depending on the weather and the season, it can be one of the most dismal areas in central France: damp, flat, featureless and foggy. But at other times its forests, lakes, ponds and marshes have a quiet magic – in summer, for example, when the heather is in bloom and the ponds are full of water lilies, or in early autumn when you can go hunting for mushrooms. Wild boar and deer roam here, not to mention the ducks, geese, quails and pheasants, who far outnumber the small human population. This breathtaking area of the country was the inspiration for our new "favorite thing" at The Maine House! Gien Sologne fine china! Perhaps a birthday request.....are you listening Darling?

These rustic recipes are perfectly paired with the beauty of this
woodland fine china!

Estelle's Rustic French Onion Soup
8 large yellow onions, peeled, sliced in thin strips
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 1/2 T. salt
3 cans Beef Broth
32 oz. Chicken broth
1/2 cup good white wine, dry sherry or Marsala
1 dried bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1t. pepper
1 fresh baguette, cut into 1/2 thick slices
1/2 shredded Gruyere cheese for EACH serving

 Combine oil and butter in a frying pan and put all 8 cups of onions in pan. Add sugar and salt and toss to coat. Cook onions on medium low heat for 40 minutes to 1 hour stirring occasionally. They will cook down to a fraction of their former volume and most of the liquid will evaporate. Add these cooked onions to your slow cooker/crock pot. Add broth, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cook for three hours. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place baguette slices on baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Place a baguette slice in a soup bowl and ladle the soup over the baguette. Generously sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the soup and place the bowls on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes until cheese is gooey and melted!

Perfect Rustic Roasted Chicken
1 (6-7 pound) roasting chicken
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top. Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.


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