When a Norseman Meets a Burgundian in Wine School...
Updated: Jun 18
This month Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is hosting the French Winophiles. She prompted: "Every year, the tourist offices situated along and near the D-Day Landing Beaches come together to coordinate the D-Day Festival, which features commemorative events and festivities on the five D-Day Landing Beaches and in Sainte-Mère-Église, Bayeux and Arromanches-les-Bains (Gold Beach sector) to name a few places. While Normandy does have some wineries they are best know for hard ciders and Calvados. In the spirit of alliance all spirits are welcome for this #Winophiles event."
All of these will be live between Friday, June 16th and Saturday, June 17th. We will also be gathering for a Twitter chat on Saturday at 8am Pacific. Here's the line-up of the articles from the #Winophiles writers...
A Weekend of Food, Drink and History in Normandie by FoodWineClick!
Organic Normandy Cider with Calvados Cream Pork Loin and an ancient map by Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley
Remembering D Day with the Normandy 44 Cocktail by A Day in the Life on the Farm
When a Norseman Meets a Burgundian in Wine School... by Culinary Cam (you're here)
Domaine Normand Mâcon La Roche Vineuse 2020
It was more challenging that I anticipated to source a wine from Normandy. I took a slight twist on the prompt. I couldn't find a wine from Normandy, but I found a Norseman who makes wine in Burgundy.
Alain Normand hails from the Loire Valley, but his ancestral home is Normandy, hence his name. A Norseman—descendant of the Vikings—he is a statuesque red-head. While attending a wine school in Beaune, he met Sylvaine, a Burgundian. Together they took over an abandoned vineyard in La Roche-Vineuse with a métayage contract. That is a common French agricultural practice in which the landlord is paid in wine.
Today, Alain works the vineyards and makes the wine while Sylvaine manages the office and raises their two children. Theirs is a typical family domaine operation. Alain cultivates Chardonnay, a little Pinot Noir for AOC Bourgogne Rouge, and a little Gamay for AOC Mâcon Rouge. Alain farms according to the pragmatic principles of lutte raisonnée, or reasoned fight.
Lutte Raisonnée translates to 'reasoned fight' or 'supervised control' in relation to the use of chemicals in farming. This is a more pragmatic approach to farming; chemical treatments are used, but only when necessary. The domaine encourages biodiversity in the vineyards by planting cover crop, plowing the soils, and using manures and natural composts to fertilize the vines. Often, Lutte Raisonnée is a farmers' first step towards fully organic or biodynamic farming. Or it's a logical compromise between conventional farming methods and the rigid guidelines required by organic or biodynamic certifying agencies.
There are some certifying agencies such as Terra Vitis who offer a specific set of guidelines and requirements. Alternatively, some farms operate independently by following mostly organic and biodynamic methods and only using treatments when required.
Alain plows his vineyards rather than using herbicides, and he doesn’t use pesticides or chemical fertilizers. His methods are definitely not the norm in the Mâcon arean.
In the glass, the Domaine Normand Mâcon La Roche Vineuse 2020 is a bright clear yellow color. On the nose there are notes of summer fruits and tropical flowers. This is a fruity wine that's both big and fresh. I kicked off our meal with a three French cheeses. Then we moved on to two dishes made with Calvados.
Poulet à la Normande
This simple, classic braise from northern France brings together the Fall flavors of sweet apples, yeasty beer, cream and chicken. The only trick is flambéing the brandy, which gives it a toasty flavor — it’s literally playing with fire, so if you’d prefer not to do that, you can stay safe and get very similar results by pouring the liquor in off-heat, and gently simmering it to evaporate the alcohol.
6 to 7 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken (I used three thighs and four drumsticks)
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil, duck fat, or chicken fat
½ cup ground bacon or the more traditional cubed ventrèche (this is akin to a French pancetta, substitute Italian pancetta or bacon if you can't find ventrèche)
1 organic onion, peeled and cubed, approximately 1 cup
3 to 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced (I used Pink Pearl apples)
½ cup Calvados (or other brandy)
1 ¼ cup hard cider or beer (I used a local hard cider)
5 Tablespoons crème fraîche or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the ground bacon in a large Dutch oven or deep skillet (I used my Le Creuset braiser) over medium heat until the fat is rendered and shimmering. Place the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until a deep golden, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Flip and sear the other side until golden, approximately another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, leaving the rendered fat in the bottom.
Add in the onions and apples and stir to coat with the fat. Nestle the chicken thighs on top of the apples and onions.
Pour the brandy in a small saucepan and heat gently. When it begins to steam, use a stick lighter or long match to ignite it. While it's burning, pour the brandy over the chicken and let it burn out.
It might take a minute or two before the alcohol burns off and the flames subside.
Pour the cider or beer over the dish and bring it to a boil. Cover and place in the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
If the sauce is thick enough for your liking, simply drizzle the chicken with the crème fraîche or buttermilk. If you prefer it thicker, place the heat on a burner over medium heat and let the sauce reduce.
Serve the dish immediately.
Plus a Twist on the Tourtière Landaise
Traditionally Tourtière Landaise is made with apples and armagnac which is a French brandy made with grapes. Similar to cognac, armagnac is a French brandy made with grapes. But unlike the former, armagnac is distilled once rather than twice; also it is aged in black oak barrels rather than white. I decided to use a brandy made in Normandy. Calvados is made out of apples. I figured that that spirit would actually be very complementary. It was!
8 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons brandy (traditional is armagnac, substitute cognac or I used Calvados)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
18 sheets of phyllo dough (that was an entire package for me)
5 to 6 Tablespoons organic granulated sugar
2 organic apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
organic powdered sugar for serving
Also needed: a brush, a tart pan with removable sides and bottom
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't brown or burn.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove melted butter from heat and pour in brandy and vanilla extract.
Grease your pan. Using a pastry brush, brush one sheet of phyllo with the butter-brandy mixture and place it in the bottom of the pan. Repeat with three more sheets so that the bottom has four layers over it. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon sugar over the bottom and place half of the apples in a thin layer over that. Sprinkle with another Tablespoon of sugar.
Brush 7 more sheets of phyllo dough and crumple them into a ball at the bottom of the dish, creating a crumpled layer. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar and place the remaining apples in a layer over that and sprinkle with another Tablespoon sugar. Brush the rest of the sheets and create another crumple layer. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon sugar over the top and gently fold any edges in towards the center.
Drizzle the pie with any remaining butter-Calvados mixture, then sprinkle the phyllo with the remaining sugar. Bake until the phyllo is golden brown and the apples are tender, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding the pie. Serve hot, dusted with powdered sugar.