The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Duck Confit Lasagna

October 14th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Posted in Blog, Travel

Dessert: cheese with local wine grapes

More than anything, this post is an excuse to publish photos of the gorgeous dessert–or rather cheese course–put together by two artist friends of our friend Bob when we visited them for dinner in their home in a tiny village high in the Pyrenees. Ilianne and Gerald settled there originally years ago to start a communal farm. Now the focus is on their sculptures. Gerald, German by birth, also practices homeopathic medicine.

We were tasked with bringing the entree for dinner and Bob had promised cassoulet. But as I mentioned previously, cassoulet is not something you whip up on the spur of the moment. In fact, it took me three days to finish ours. So the question was, what to bring for dinner when we had spent the better part of the day roaming around being tourists?

We checked the contents of the fridge. We rummaged through the pantry. An idea began to take shape as I collected a tub of ratatouille left from dinner the night before, part of a roasted chicken, and two leg and thigh quarters from a tin of duck confit. Add some tomatoes Bob had grown in his garden and some onions from the outdoor market around the corner and you have the beginnings of a ragout for what I’m calling our accidental French lasagna.

All we had to do was pick up some pasta noodles on the way to Ilianne’s and Gerald’s house. We would cook those there and assemble our lasagna.

Normally, I would also layer ricotta cheese into this sort of lasagna, which leads me to the incredibly confusing yogurt aisle in the typical French supermarket. First, we discovered that they do not carry quart-size containers of plain yogurt. We found this rather amazing, considering the yogurt aisle (the place you would look for ricotta cheese) is approximately a mile long in Carrefour, the French equivalent of a Super Safeway. And instead of ricotta cheese (or even cottage cheese), they have other types of curdled dairy products, such as fromage frais (aka fromage blanc) and creme fraiche, sold under innumerable brand names.

Fromage frais (known as quark in Germany) has a bit of sweet-sour flavor decidedly more assertive than ricotta. It’s also a bit stickier, making it less than ideal for spreading over lasagna noodles. But in the end, it, along with the ragout of ratatouille, chicken, duck confit and home-grown tomatoes, made for a spectacular pasta dish.


The finished lasagna was well received

Ilianne had made lovely hors d’oeuvres with the local version of dried ham and figs. But her dessert display of cheeses, grapes and ripe melon was simply over the top. I think the photos tell it all.

The canteloupe could not have been riper

A feast for the eyes: just add wine

I love the shadow play on the hand

How can you go wrong with ingredients like these?

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  • Magic Cochin

    Looks like you’ve been having a great time on our side of the pond! I gave you a wave from the other side of the Pyrenees (we’ve been hanging out in Galicia for a couple of weeks).


  • Ed Bruske

    Celia, we definitely had a great time. We should arrange a meetup next time.