Friginat

This is a Languedoc speciality traditionally made the day the pig was killed. Nobody keeps pigs these days so it tends to come out on special occasions (although it’s not particularly expensive to make). As with most traditional dishes, everyone has their own ideas on exactly how it should be made. Steve went to the charcuterie the other day and asked for some pork and pig’s liver to make friginat with. The charcutière told him firmly that what he was proposing to make was not friginat, it was fricassée. Friginat is made only from the neck of the pig, she said. Our two Languedoc cookbooks, with three recipes between them for fricassée and friginat, do not make matters clear. Anyway, since the pig’s neck was not available, Steve went home and made fricassée more-or-less according to the charcutière‘s instructions. This is not fricassée as in cream, chicken and mushrooms, but a pork, liver and kidney stew. It is a surprisingly refined dish, very tasty and much less rich and stodgy than cassoulet.

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Couscous

The chicken can be a scraggy old boiler as it’s going to cook for ages. Similarly the meat should be cheap stewing cuts — breast or shoulder of lamb, shin of beef, hacked roughly into pieces. This is not an elegant dish!

Ras-el-hanout is a North African spice mixture. If you can’t get it or the French 4-épices, use paprika, cayenne, and coriander to season the stew.

Harissa is a kind of very hot chilli paste.

The vegetables can be varied although I think turnips and carrots are essential for the flavour.

You can cook the chickpeas from scratch yourself, but you have to soak them for ages beforehand. I think it’s easier to just use a can or jar (particularly if you didn’t think of making the couscous until the night before).

You will need a large stockpot with a lid which will take all the ingredients with room to spare.

This quantity will feed at least ten people.

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Braised chicken thighs with chicory and bacon

Chicory is something I never ate in the UK, and thought I probably didn’t like. But over the last year I have discovered its virtues, when treated correctly (i.e. water should not come anywhere near it, if you want a result that is not limp, soggy, and unpleasantly bitter). Endives au gratin, where the chicory is pre-cooked, wrapped in ham, and covered with a nice cheesy sauce before being popped in the oven, is easy and obvious, but here’s a wonderful Simon Hopkinson recipe that sets it off at its best. Serves 2.

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