Monday, November 12, 2007

Crique ardechoise et frisee

Crique Ardechoise

Not sure I have already mentioned this but my mother is from Ardeche, a French departement located on the left bank of the Rhone. It is surrounded by Isere, Gard, Drome (where I was born), Loire, Haute-Loire, Lozere and Vaucluse departements and thus constitutes a sort of frontier that separates North and South of France. It is also a very interesting and varied region especially as far as food is concerned. I used to spend quite a few week ends every year at my grandparents there when I was a kid. Playing among the chestnut trees and discovering the pleasure to eat raspberries and blackberries from the bush were among the activities that kept my cousins and myself busy for whole days.

Criques would be a specialty originating from Ardeche. I say "would" because some attribute the recipe to Provence or Auvergne cooks. No matter where it comes from, this peasant recipe is another illustration of how to turn simple ingredients into a wonderful and satisfying dish.

It is the dish my grandmother used to cook for me every time I would visit her (herbs beignets were also another favorite). It is also that dish, served with frisee, that would greet me more often than not on Saturdays when I came back from school. Needless to say that it holds a particular place in my culinary memories. But before you throw yourself into testing that recipe, a last piece of advice: be generous with garlic and anchovies since they will give a special twist and distinctive Southern French character to the recipe.

Crique Ardechoise_2

Ingredients (serves 2):
3 large potatoes
5 garlic cloves
2 tbsp parsley
1 large egg
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea Salt (2 pinches)
Black Pepper

1 small frisee
5 anchovies
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp jerez vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the potatoes and grate them (I use the thin grid of a hand-grater but you can obviously use a food processor).
2. Mix the grated potatoes with the egg, finely chopped garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Using a fine sieve, get rid of the excess liquid contained in the mixture. You want to obtain an almost dry blend.
3. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Spread the potato mixture in the pan like a pancake and cook on medium heat until slightly brown and crispy on the bottom. Don't forget to lift the crique's sides all along the process so it doesn't stick. Flip and cook on the other side until done.
4. Prepare a vinaigrette mixing olive oil, vinegar, anchovies, salt and pepper. My mother even adds garlic to the mix but as there is already quite a bit of it in the crique, you may not want to have too much of a good thing, right?
5. Blend the frisee and the vinaigrette (use your hands to do so and the result will be even better) just before serving the salad and half of the crique on each plate.


Barb McMahon and Alan Mailloux said...

Mmmmmm..... and we just bought a jar of anchovies! I'll give this a try!

Laurent Martinez said...


Thanks for stopping by. You should definitely give it a try and keep me posted about the result. Happy cooking!