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Chichoumée and Fougasse

These are two classic southern French dishes that you may or maynot have heard of! The first is a Biterrois dish, meaning that it originates from the Languedocian town of Béziers. It is very similar to the Provençal Ratatouille but with some key differences: they way that the vegetables are cut and the the omission of courgettes! The second is a herb and olive oil based bread not dissimilar to the Italien focaccia.

I chose these too as they scream summer, with all their herby mediterranean flavours. They are not complicated to make and can be adapted in so many ways. For example the Chichoumée is easily made vegetarian/vegan by leaving out the lardons, or you could swap the lardons for a spicy chorizo. It can be served with bread aside as I am doing; in a tart, with a tortilla (espagnol) with an egg cracked into the middle, hot or cold!

The fougasse I decided to make quite plain, just with a smattering of herbs de Provence as it is accompanying the Chichoumée. However it is quite usual to add chopped olives, or fried onion and lardons, or anchovies and more fresh rosemary and thyme for a punchier flavour. It can also sometimes be made sweet with fleur d’oranger and sugar,

We are going to enjoy these tomorrow evening at 18h local time when Honor and I taste the wines from Château Cicéron. This dish is to partner the In Memoriam red Corbières.

Chichoumée

Ingredients:

I large, firm aubergine cut in half across the middle, then into strips

1 medium onion, cut into half moon strips

2 small peppers (mixed colours), seeded and cut into strips

6 roma tomatoes peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

2 large garlic cloves diced

1 tbsp herbs de Provence

Seasoning to taste

150g lardons (optional)

Method:

  1. Start by heating 2 tbsp of good quality olive in a heavy bottom pan and add the aubergines with a large pinch of rock salt. cook over a medium-low heat to soften, turning regularly as you do not want them to colour.
  2. Add the onions, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stirring continually.*
  3. Add the peppers and mix well. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, herbs, garlic and seasoning. Stir well and cook over a gentle heat for half an hour.
  5. Check seasoning and that the aubergines are thoroughly cooked.
  6. Serve warm, chilled or hot!

*If you are going to add lardons/chorizo to the dish this is the point to do it.

Fougasse

Ingredients:

500g all purpose flour

250ml warm water

1 heaped tsp dried yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp Herbs de Provence

2 tbsp Olive oil, plus more for oiling

Method:

  1. Start by adding the yeast to the warm water, gently stir and leave for at least 5 minutes to start to bubble and react.
  2. In a large bowl add the flour, salt and herbs and mix.
  3. Once the yeast has started to froth and foam add it to the dry ingredients with the olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon or a bread scrapper.
  4. Tip out onto an oiled surface and knead, push and pull for a good 5 – 10 minutes until springy to touch.
  5. Put into an oiled bowl and cover and then leave to prove until double in size. I have a fancy new oven that has a dough proving setting, it is a marvel!
  6. Empty out onto the oiled surface, cut into two. Put one half back into the bowl whilst you work with the other.
  7. Form into a ball and using very little flour*, roll out to an oval shape pushing with your fingers to make indentations.
  8. Take a sharp knife and make slashes through the dough on either side (see photo).
  9. Put onto a lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil, cover.
  10. Do the same with the other ball of dough.
  11. Leave to proof a second time for 30 minutes.
  12. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes in a preheated hot oven, 185C Fan 220C.
  13. To check if they are ready the fougasse should be lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped.
  • If you are going to add extra flavours such as olives and lardons add them at this point folding in as you knead. Roll into a ball replace in the oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest a further 30 minutes. Punch back, and shape into an oval, slash as above and bake.

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