Fourty shades of pray: French tourte

Cooking may be fun most of the time – but when you really go for it, it turns into hard labour. That is certainly true for the classic French dish called tourte, a bourgeois marvel of culinary decadence which basically combines two elaborate dishes into one.

Think, for example, of a world-famous Bresse chicken braised with 40 cloves of garlic, sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme which is quite something on its own already. But then think of it wrapped and baked in a crispy mantle of home-made puff pastry: And you have what I threw myself into over the past weekend.

The pastry alone is a real challenge, all that rolling and folding and cooling and working with butter and flour and not much else. Separately, you prepare the chicken as a full-blown dish of its own but only to make it a lavish ingredient of a greater dish; well, that’s beautiful, don’t you think? It’s an adventure, after all.

And you learn to pray because so many things can go wrong. In my case, the fringes weren’t cooked through… But the middle parts were pretty excellent. I’ll do it again. But only for Christmas, Easter or alike (I mentioned him earlier in the context of terrine making – Stéphane Reynaud is also the best expert when it comes to tourtes and he has published an excellent French book about it).





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