Thursday, 14 March 2013

La Charcuterie

 The Charcuterie in Preuilly-sur-Claise, in the main street.

The charcuterie in Preuilly is well patronised and they have a good range of products. Most are made in house, some bought in. French charcuteries focus mainly on value added pork products -- often cured, but sometimes simply cooked and ready to eat. They also do salads and prepared dishes. This is because many of them, like the one in Preuilly, are also traiteurs (caterers).

In the window there is always an array of tempting prepared dishes. On this day there was anchovy pizza, quiche Lorraine, feuilleté jambon (ham in flaky pastry), feuilleté fromage chèvre frais (fresh goats cheese in flaky pastry), rillons (slow cooked cubes of pork), fillet of sole with Dieppe style sauce, paupiette de dinde aux champignons (turkey parcels with mushrooms), tongue in some sort of sauce, coquilles st jacques (a classic scallop dish), hachis parmentier (cottage pie), hard boiled eggs in aspic, salmon and prawns in aspic and sausages and beans, all made in house.

I shop here about once a fortnight, buying all sorts of cured meat, terrines and patés, salads and occasionally something like a savoury pastry or soused herrings.

And in this cabinet we have baked custard, local goats cheeses (Pouligny St Pierre, Ste Maure de Touraine and Couronne Lochoise), wild boar paté with wild girolle mushrooms, grattons charentais (like rillettes, a type of pulled pork paste), persillé (parsley brawn -- the name means 'parsleyed', and also 'marbled'), rillettes de porc, plain sausages, brawn, two sorts of liver paté and pork fillet.

The place is owned and run by Régis Mas and his wife. In the usual way of these things, he works out the back in the kitchen and she runs the front of house. They live over the shop.

Bayonne ham is the most prestigious of French dry cured hams, and Vendéen comes a good second. Four wafer thin slices of ham to go with lunch will cost less than €2.


  1. And here am I wondering what to cook for lunch....

  2. The butcher in LGP sells a limited range of charcuterie. We should pop over to Preuilly more often as this place has so much choice.

    It's nice to see so many husband and wife teams running shops and businesses. They have been wiped out in our area of the UK by too many supermarkets - I wonder if they are also an endangered species in rural France.

  3. I'm thinking the same as Jean! When on my "gastronomic cycling" tour of this area 20 years ago, the charcuteries memorably supplied lunch.

  4. I waited until after we'd eaten before reading today's post.... I spotted the second picture this morning... and went and got a quick Lorraine and a veggie one for lunch from the GP boulangerie... then went to the butcher's van on the market and we bought a selection from there, too!
    The Charcuteries like this... and the Boulangeries... that stuff their windows with temptation, are just a hazard of living over here!

  5. Ken, I think brawn is a sort of terrine of mixed bits and bobs of meat, sometimes offal, mixed with herbs and set in jelly.
    It's nice if you don't think too hard about what you might be eating !!

  6. Ken, "brawn" is all the good bits of the pig's head, the cheeks, the tongue, the brain, etc. all cooked slowly and removed from the bone, when it is pulled, chopped... but never minced... and mixed back in with some of the skin and fat... usually the softer area under the chin... and any other meaty bits you find as you dissect the head... there are often quite a lot.
    This is put aside and the bones and skin that are left are boiled along with an onion, or some shallots, a bucket garni and some black peppercorns to reduce the liquor by about half.
    Liquor is strained and poured over the put aside meat... you can extract the peppercorns and onion from the seive to add... crushed and chopped respectively, should you so wish. Stir well and pour into a mould or bowl. Allow to cool and set. To get a brawn to set, you shouldn't need to add gelatine. Non-artisanal brawn often does have gelatine in it.

    This is the basic method... there are probably as many recipes as there are artisan butchers in the UK.

    Our butcher in GP does a parsleyed brawn where the set brawn is diced and re-set in a herb jelly... but he doesn't do it often... and when he does... it's gone!

  7. Hi Tim and hi Jean, I looked up the term "brawn" and found out it's what we call "head cheese" in the US. In France it's fromage de tête or pâté de tête. A similar preparation is jambon persillé from Burgundy. Walt and I both love all that stuff.

    It sounds funny to my American ears to call rillettes "paste." The US equivalent would be "potted pork" (or other meat -- goose or duck, for example). Otherwise, we have tomato paste or wallpaper paste...

  8. Ken: and your Brit friends will talk about tomato purée and possibly wallpaper glue :-)

    Actually potted meat is a better equivalent. It implies something a bit more up market than meat paste, which is a cheap sandwich spread. I didn't think of it at the time of writing though, and I'm not sure all British / Australian readers would understand the term -- it's very old fashioned and the only time you usually hear it is in reference to shrimps.

  9. You can still get potted beef at our local butcher in Derbyshire. It's not dissimilar to rillettes and quite delicious.
    When I was a little girl we would have potted beef sandwiches for Sunday tea and it was always a treat - much better than beef paste, which was nowhere near as nice.

  10. Susan... tomatty puree... yes... comes in tins... tomatty paste... yes... comes in tubes. B-b-but they are the same thing... almost... tomatty paste is thicker.

    Wallpaper paste is wallpaper paste...
    BUT you can get wallpaper glue... in tubes, at Homebase... it's for repairing the edges 'cos you were too mean with the paste in the first place.

    And potted meat is still available in the UK... especially "oop t'North"... both as beef and chicken "flavours"!! Actually the famous varieties probably are mainly beef [Sutherlands Potted Beef being the most famous and readily available]... the Butcher in GP does a "boeuf cuit" which is part way between potted beef and corned beef... fabulous stuff.

  11. Tim & Jean: interesting -- I never encountered it, even in Borough Market.

    I hadn't realised Brits distinguished between tomato paste (as I would call it) in a tube and in a tin either. I do vaguely remember that tinned tomato purée in the UK wasn't as concentrated as I was used to.