Monday, February 1, 2010


When the Préfecture gives you lemons and you're not in the mood for lemonade, it is perfectly acceptable to seek comfort elsewhere. Some may be in need of retail therapy but my wallet and I opt for comfort food instead. I found mine in paupiettes de veau and a few other non-edible moments this weekend. The solution was three-part, actually: devise a plan of attack with the boss; forget about all things préfecture-related on the slopes; and comfort myself with a traditional Sunday lunch. As my sister likes to say, "do what works." This, my friends, did the trick.

Meeting with the boss on Friday was a step in the right direction. She still wants me to work for the company [yay!], and that alone is pretty incredible when you stop to think just how complicated this entire hiring process has been for all involved. [sigh]

Saturday I left my cares and worries in Toulouse and spent the day skiing at Piau-Engaly in the Pyrénées. Monsieur J's company had organized the excursion, and it was a fun day of snow and skiing for all involved, even if I don't have any pictures to prove it. Using the camera would've meant taking off my mittens and that wasn't going to happen!

Which brings us to Sunday. Sundays in France are unlike any other day of the week. They're designed for family, friends, a good meal, walks, cultural outings, parks, and other leisure activities. Sundays are not made for frantically running about in an effort to get a jump start on the week. Even if you wanted to cram your Sunday full of errands you'd be hard pressed to find a store that's open, though you can always do a load of laundry at home if that makes you feel better. But while Sundays may not be made for productivity as normally definied, Sunday mornings are a great time to go to the market and prepare for Sunday lunch. Mmmm, Sunday lunch!

At summer camp, we always ate the same thing for Sunday lunch: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls and dessert. So predictable, and yet so good. In the winter months here in France, one of my absolute favorite Sunday lunch options is paupiettes de veau.

I didn't know about these little treasures until a few months ago when Monsieur J and I were at the market and saw an unbelievably long line at the butcher shop. Certainly it must be good, otherwise all of these people would not be waiting in line for 30 minutes. We joined the queue, waited and watched the butcher deftly cutting slices of beef and veal, his wife ringing up the orders and giving tips on how to cook each item. When it was our turn, Monsieur J ordered two paupiettes, and Madame explained how to cook them. My "I'm-listening-to-you-very-intently-so-as-not-to-screw-this-up" face must've worried Madame on some level, and so she fished out a photocopy of the recipe just in case. Merci!

Paupiettes may take a little time to cook, but since the butcher prepares the meat, all you have to do is chop and partially cook the vegetables before adding the veal to the pot. A paupiette de veau is essentially a thin veal cutlet, filled with a ground veal and herb stuffing. The butcher places a lump of stuffing on the veal cutlet, then uses strips of fat and a length of butcher's twine to carefully wrap and bind each little parcel so it won't fall apart during the cooking process. Once you've finished cooking them, you simply remove the string and fat and serve the paupiettes with the chopped vegetables: potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, leeks and fennel in this case, though you can adapt the choice of vegetables as you'd like -it's fun to experiment. When cooked slowly on low heat for 35 minutes and finished for 10 minutes over medium, the paupiettes are slightly golden on the outside, tender, juicy and seasoned to perfection on the inside. What's not to like about that?

1 comment:

  1. I love your description of a French Sunday. We should strive to have a day more like that here, although maybe cross-country skiing and a big pot of soup for Sunday supper is a decent approximation?

    Good luck with the prefecture (can't get this Montana keyboard to use accents)!