Menu 24: Ficelles, Irish Stew and French Apple Tart

Get ready cooks, because all of the choices this week make a perfect choice to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. You got your Irish Stew (page 342) , and Ficelles (page 79)  to soak up those stew juices. Then to finish it all off, a impressive (and easy!) French Apple tart (page 454).

Let’s break it down shall we?

Ficelles, whose name means, “string” is basically a small baguette and like it’s sister bread filled with many air pockets and boast a prime ration of crust-to-crumb – which I don’t know about you, but for me that is what the perfect piece of bread should always have.  While searching more about this bread, I found different variations, the one in the book coats it with a combo of water and salt, but I found another version that makes it with lots of poppy and sesame seeds (extra crunch if you ask me!) or you can even coat it with a bit of parmesan cheese or gruyere or…wait, I let you be the cook.  But, whatever you decide to do, it’s perfect to serve with the next item on the list the Irish Stew.

I got to tell you, when I read the recipe I was like… ok, wait, don’t you pre-cook the lamb? For a minute there I thought I found another typo error in the book (they are a few), but after doing a Google search I found tons of variations and this one is suppose to be the “original, authentic” way to preparing this stew. Apparently you do not pre-cook the meat, or the onions or the carrots.  But you layer each one in the casserole and cover with the stock and top with the slices potatoes and into the oven it goes to cook for one hour or more.  I’m still debating with myself if I should do it this way or give the meat a nice sear before hand, along with cooking the carrots and onions as well on the skillet, then layering it all down.

The last option is a French Apple Tart.  The recipe calls to use pie dough, but does not give you the recipe for it, so we will assume that you can use your own recipe for this, buy it at the store, or hunt it down in the book, which can be found in page 436 under the Shortcrust pastry.  I also recommend the pie crust from Nick Malgieri, or you can also use his pastry dough recipe as well.  I have done both and they have yet to fail me.

So are you going to put on green underwear on and drink green beer while cooking this great menu? I hope so, don’t want to be the only crazy one in the kitchen!