Monday, March 7, 2011

Peasant pie

This so-called peasant pie is a delicacy from the wooded Jura region of eastern France.

The basic ingredient is the celebrated sausage from the village of Morteau, to the east of Besançon, just alongside the Swiss border at the level of Neuchâtel.

These pure pork sausages are smoked slowly using resinous woods (pine, spruce and juniper), and this operation gives the sausage skins (natural pork gut) their amber color. As for the peasant pie recipe, it's remarkably simple (and there are no onions or liquid):

— roll of puff pastry
[Authentic peasants would have made their own pastry.]
— bottom layer of steamed potato and carrot slices
— middle layer of sliced sausage
— upper layer of cooked asparagus
[Peasants may have used leaks instead of asparagus.]
— topped (inside) with shredded Emmental cheese
— upper covering brush-daubed with mixture of egg yolk and milk

It goes without saying that many other kinds of cooked pork sausages might be used instead of the French Morteau variety. Don't forget the chimney in the middle of the pie. Best baked slowly (30 to 40 minutes) in an oven no hotter than 180 degrees. Eaten preferably in the presence of a genuine and admiring peasant's dog.

CONCLUSION: The only problem with my homemade pies at Gamone is that each one gives rise to several meals. I've never been courageous enough to test the possibility of deep-freezing dishes of this kind. Incidentally, I now know why the Good Lord invented big families, particularly in pious rural environments where food resources were meager and waste could not be tolerated. He did this in order to justify the preparation of king-sized peasant pies, which could be consumed at a single sitting.

REACTION FROM FITZROY'S FRIEND IN BRITTANY: I was surprised when Christine expressed her surprise that Fitzroy is absent from the first photo, as if I might be treating him harshly. I'm afraid that the idea of expecting Fitzroy to pose calmly for a photo alongside a dining-room table holding a peasant pie is unthinkable for the moment. Fitzroy is perfectly capable of scaling near-vertical rocky embankments. He does that regularly to inspect such things as the rustling of grass, or the movements of a lizard or a bird. So, the challenge of jumping up onto a table to devour a sweet-smelling peasant pie would be a quite simple and worthwhile affair for Fitzroy. When it's warm enough to sit outside for meals, I'll have to handle this educational problem.


  1. I wondered if the leaks in your pie recipe made the pastry damp?

  2. As I said, I used asparagus instead of leaks (indicated in the original recipe). Whichever you choose, they're laid out on top of a layer of potatoes and carrots, and a layer of sliced sausage. And the bottom pastry has holes pricked in it. So, the answer is no, the pastry is not in any way dampened. In fact, this peasant pie is a relatively dry dish. There's nothing at all like the sauce (gravy) to be found in most meat pies. In conclusion, peasant pie is great stuff, and I did indeed have the impression that I was nourishing myself with the kind of food that enabled countless generations of poor farming families to survive. If you keep frozen rolls of puff pastry in your deep freezer, potatoes and carrots in your larder, and so-called "summer sausages" hanging up in your cellar, then peasant pie is an excellent solution for feeding unplanned weekend guests... provided, of course, that you have time to thaw out your pastry. If the unplanned guests don't leave you with enough time to thaw out your pastry, then give them some flour and ask them to get to work preparing pastry from scratch, or suggest that they might drive to a nearby store (open of a weekend?) to buy a couple of pastry rolls. If none of those solutions work, then inform your guests that they'll be eating a delicious dish known as Peasant Sausage, served up with steam-cooked vegetables. And that will give you a chance of getting rid of some of your less noble bottles of wine.

    Incidentally, talking about wine, I must update my last mention. It would appear to be highly likely that the alleged bad effects upon me of wine would be due primarily to the fact that I was alluding to cheap white wine. So, I must never again be tempted to consume such piss. On the other hand, I'l be looking forward, one of these days, to rediscovering a bottle of the fabulous Côtes-du-Rhône from the nearby town of Tain-l'Hermitage. So, all is surely well in that domain.

  3. It has only just occurred to me that maybe Annie was joking when she suggested that leaks might dampen my peasant pie. As a result of expressing myself daily both in English (writing) and French (spoken contacts), it's possible that I've become less responsive to the multiple senses of words. But this hasn't prevented me from writing a humorous blog article on "apple products" in which I deliberately confused the fruit and the Californian company. These days, I tend to see words immediately in the immediate context in which they appear to be used, at their face value, rather than imagining metaphors or a play on words. So, it takes me a while to get around to secondary meanings… like a dull person who needs to cogitate a lot before picking up the sense of a joke. Yesterday, for example, I complained to an alleged US scientific blogger, concerned with ornithology, that I was surprised that he would bother to giggle publicly in his blog, like an immature schoolgirl, about an English newspaper heading referring to sightings of big tits. In a quite different domain, a young Aussie would-be filmmaker was disappointed when I told him that I didn't the narration with which he intended to start a forthcoming documentary: "With World War II in the rear-view mirror, man turns his gaze from war to science." I explained that the weakness of his metaphor is that it's hard to visualize the idea of gazing at a world war in the rear-view mirror of an automobile. When I quizzed him a little about his real knowledge of that global disaster, the young man assured me that he had indeed heard a lot about "Rolf Hitler" (sic). Tie me fucken Nazi kangaroo down, mate!

  4. In my first reaction to Annie's question, I said that the pricks at the bottom of the pie should be able to deal with humidity from leaks that might seep down through the sausages. I can't be any clearer than that.

  5. OK, I've finally got the message. WikiLeaks has nothing to do with vegetables, and leeks have never made anybody's pants wet.

  6. Annie will be delighted to learn that, this evening, I'll be heating up the last remaining slice of peasant pie and serving it up with my favorite Australian vegetables: mashed potatoes and green pees. OK, it's not exactly the season for fresh pees, whose flavor is so much nicer, but I keep a stock of frozen pees in plastic bags in the deep freezer, and they're almost as good as the fresh product. On the other hand, I've never acquired a taste for canned pees, which seem to have lost their sparkle and summer tang, and have (to my delicate nose) an unpleasant aroma.

  7. What with leaks and pees I seem to be getting confused with leeks and peas, but I think I'm on the right track for following the blog..... Anyhow, it seems the last of the peasant pie has been devoured at this time so all's well that ends well!