September 22, 2015
Recipes From The New “Bruno, Chief Of Police” Cookbook
Most readers know the character Benoît Courrèges – nicknamed “Bruno” by the residents of his small French village – as chief of police.
But, as they come to find throughout Martin Walker’s eight-part series, the detective also loves to cook elaborate meals. For the release of the latest installment in the series, Walker teamed up with his wife, food writer Julia Watson, to let fans enjoy some of Bruno’s recipes at home.
Here are four of Bruno’s favorites.
All recipes from “Bruno’s Cookbook” by Martin Walker and Julia Watson.
Omelette aux truffles
An omelette should not contain fewer than two or more than four eggs.
There are three secrets to a successful omelette with truffles.
- Put the eggs with a truffle in a sealed container overnight; the egg shells are porous and the flavor will seep into the eggs.
- Use a cooking oil flavored with truffles.
- Only use scraps and tailings of truffles in the omelette mixture since the speed and heat of cooking will reduce the truffles’ impact, particularly if they are summer truffles. Once cooked, three wafer-thin slices of truffle should be added to the top of the omelette and it should then be folded. Add three more wafer-thin slices to the top of omelette and serve at once.
- Take three eggs that have been kept overnight (and not in a refrigerator) in a sealed container with a truffle.
- Whip them together with a fork and with a teaspoon of cold water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and whatever scraps and tailings of truffle you may have. Bruno likes to add a crushed garlic clove at this point.
- Pour a tablespoon of truffle oil into the frying pan and keep on a high heat. Add the egg mixture and every time the base looks like setting, swirl the pan or use a wooden or plastic spatula to keep the liquid mixture flowing to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the liquid no longer flows easily, shake the pan to ensure the base is not sticking and then add the first three slices of truffle. Fold the omelette and then add three more slices on top before serving.
One of Bruno’s favorite meals is Boeuf Bourguignon, which is essentially pieces of beef braised in red wine, and named after the Bourgogne (or Burgundy) region because the people there thought of it first as a clever marketing ploy to sell more of their red wine. As a loyal citizen of his own region of the Perigord, which produces some of the best veal and beef in France, Bruno began using his local Bergerac wine with a little extra kick from his own vin de noix.
- 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of good red meat cut into rough cubes of 4 to 8 centimeters (.75 to 1.5 inches)
- 500 g (1.1 pounds) of streaky bacon cut into dices, or a packet of smoked lardons
- 500 g (1.1 pounds) small onions, left whole
- 1 large onion, chopped.
- 1 medium-size carrot, sliced
- 250 to 300 g mushrooms (2 to 2.5 cups) dark brown champignons for preference but white champignons will suffice.
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped.
- 1 bottle of Bergerac red wine
- 1 small wineglass of vin de noix (recipe below), or madeira or ruby port
- 1 wineglass of stock, usually beef, but Bruno gets good results from his duck stock
- 1 bayleaf
- 2 generous tablespoons of flour
- 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, or a level teaspoon of dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons of duck fat, or olive oil
- Preheat oven at 150 Celsius (302 Fahrenheit)
- Pat the cubes of meat dry with a paper towel (or they will not brown easily) and fry them in the duck fat until browned.
- Remove the meat from the pan and fry the chopped onion in the remaining fat and juices.
- When the onions are just turning brown, return the meat to the pan and start sprinkling the flour and stirring so that the beef becomes coated.
- Once the flour is thoroughly mixed, transfer to a casserole and start adding the red wine, a glass at a time, so the dish stays hot. Add the garlic, salt and pepper.
- Cook for two hours.
- After two hours, fry the lardons (bacon) until much of the fat has been released, then add the small onions and finally the mushrooms. Once they are browned, add them to the casserole with the vin de noix, re-cover and cook for another hour.
- The sauce may be too thin if it drips too easily from a wooden spoon. If so, return the casserole to the oven without the lid for 10-15 minutes.
Bruno’s vin de noix:
- Between June 10 20, when the walnuts are green and juicy, pick 40 to 50 and chop them into quarters.
- Add 1 pound of sugar, 8 liters (8.45 quarts) of cheap red wine and one liter each (1.05 quarts) of eau de vie, or cheap brandy.
- Stir, cover, leave in a dark place for at least six weeks, stirring once every two weeks. I usually leave it for eight weeks before I filter it and pour into clean bottles. It keeps for years. I still have some of my 2002 vintage and it’s better than ever. The French use a full kilo (2.2 pounds) of sugar, but that makes it very sweet.
Bruno’s tip: Cook this dish the day before you want to eat it, and re-warm it at meal time, bringing it to a simmering point for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It always tastes better after a day or two. When he is cooking for himself, Bruno will add some small potatoes and carrots with the onions and mushrooms. It is no longer a classic dish, but makes a very comforting stew.
Parmentier du Pecheur
This is Bruno’s name for the traditional Scottish dish that he first enjoyed at Pamela’s table, and while it has now become a fixture of many menus in St. Denis, she calls it simply Fish Pie.
- 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) white fish, haddock or cod, cut into 5 cm (2-inch) cubes. (Bruno prefers unsmoked fish, but Pamela sometimes uses smoked haddock, to make a change.)
- 250 g (.55 pounds) smoked herring, also chopped into 5 cm (2-inch) cubes
- 100 to 150 g (a quarter to a third of a pound) of shelled, cooked shrimps.
- 1 litre (4.22 cups) full cream milk
- 150 g (2/3 cups) butter
- 4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
- 50 g (3 1/3 tablespoons) capers
- 100 g (7/8 cup) flour
- 1 bayleaf
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A handful of chopped parsley
- 2.2 pounds of boiled potatoes
- 50g (3.5 tablespoons) butter
- A tea spoon of freshly grated nutmeg, or a teaspoon of powdered muscat, to spread over the mashed potato mixture
- 250 g aillou (Bruno gets his from his friend Stéphane who sells his own home-made aillou in the St. Denis market. But you can make your own: Mix six cloves of garlic squeezed from a garlic press into 100 g (.4 cups) of crème fraiche and 100 g (.4 cups) of fromage blanc, plus a table spoon of olive oil, all blended together with a table spoon of chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste).
- Preheat oven to 200 C (392F).
- Put the fish into a large casserole (smoked herrings first, then the white fish) and cover with the milk.
- Add a bayleaf and put into the oven for 20 minutes.
- Separately, boil the potatoes for 20 minutes and drain.
- Remove fish from the oven, pour out the liquid into a jug and keep it close by.
- Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Stir in the flour little by little, then add the liquid from the fish, stirring steadily. If the resulting sauce seems a little thick, add more milk.
- Add salt and pepper and simmer for no more than 5 minutes.
- Add the sauce to the fish in the casserole, along with the capers, shrimps and parsley and stir in the lemon juice. Layer the sliced eggs on top.
- Make the covering: Mash the potatoes, blend in the aillou and butter plus any remaining milk, and cover the fish with the mixture.
- Sprinkle the grated nutmeg on top and return to the oven for 30 minutes and serve.
In winter, Bruno serves this with petits pois; in summer, he serves it with a fresh green salad.
Bruno’s Cold Summer Soup
Bruno enjoys almost everything about the Spanish dish gazpacho except the color and the consistency after the addition of breadcrumbs. He prefers his bread dry and his soup wet. And he prefers it to look green rather than the usual muddy color of the Spanish original. So he re-invented the dish with vegetables from his own garden.
- 3 green peppers, chopped, with pith and seeds discarded
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 150 ml (2/3 cup) olive oil
- 100 ml (6 and 3/4 tablespoons) white wine vinegar; Bruno uses one infused with tarragon
- 1 glass Bergerac Sec white wine
- 4 chopped cloves of garlic
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: 3 medium size tomatoes, peeled and seeds discarded. Tomatoes are easily peeled: pour boiling water over them, then douse with cold water.
- Substitutions: One can add one chopped and de-seeded red pepper, and substitute rose for the white wine.
- Put the chopped green peppers, little by little, into a blender with the white wine
- Add the chopped cucumber and then the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour the liquidized mixture into a container that fits inside the refrigerator and serve chilled.
Want more from behind the scenes of the series? Listen to our full hour with Martin Walker and Julia Watson.