My mother passed away in 1997 this month, only three years after I had moved to Ireland, an untimely and very quick November harvest as she was only three weeks in her 50th birthday. In these short years, I visited a couple of times, in the summer of 96 and April 97. I would always ring a couple of days before sailing, to build up the excitement on both sides I guess and the question from the Gallic side of the channel, and like a good French mother, was always the same: “ What would you like to eat?”… The answer came out bizarrely honest that it even surprised me: “Paupiettes please!” a dish made of sausage meat wrapped in a thin layer of veal or chicken escalope. It is stewed in a mushrooms, white wine and tomato sauce and served with rice. A comforting classic in our house; it wasn’t “cupboard love”, I was never that kind of a young lad, too proud maybe? But my friends, when your Ma asks you what do you want to eat, you better think fast and tell her nice, as I think in the 25 years we’ve known each other, she only popped the question twice…
This is my version, easy but very rewarding and taste wise, close to what I can remember as being a very comfortable dish, suitable for the caprices of November, offering warmth and sunshine and in my case, a very pleasant memory.
- 1 red pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 large Onion
- 1 red chili seeded
- 6 mushrooms
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 25cl of dry white wine
- 1 chicken filet per person
- 1 good quality herb sausage from the butcher (per person).
- 75cl of tomato passata
- A bunch of fresh coriander
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
First, take the chicken breast and open it with a knife. Place the sausage ( or sausage meat) in the middle and fold the chicken over. Put the “parcel” on an oiled aluminium sheet and fold in a cylinder shape by tightening both ends, one clockwise, the other anticlockwise. With a cocktail stick, pierce a few holes through the bundle.
For the sauce, chop the pepper, the seeded chili, the onion, the mushrooms in ¼ only, and the garlic cloves peeled and sliced. In a hot olive oiled pan, sauté your ingredients with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper and the sprig of rosemary. Pour the glass of white wine and stir before pouring the passata and the same volume of water again. Reduce the heat and place your aluminium bundles in the sauce. Let the whole thing simmer for about an hour.
I serve the dish with vintage Basmati rice from Green Saffron (an Irish company) as it is quick to prepare, cook and offers a great texture. For a bit of drama, I blend the fresh coriander with a zest of lime, olive oil and salt for a bit of zing…
Enjoy, I hope this dish will bring you as much as it did to me when I was young; I could never quite re-enact all the rich flavours of this dish, or maybe my mind is simply playing tricks with me? One thing for sure, you don’t know what you are missing until it’s gone…
Keep well and eat Happy