This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen was caillettes (literally: little quails but actually a sort of large meatball made with sausage meat, liver and chard or other greens and wrapped in caul fat- somewhere between a pâté and a meatball, as explained in this excellent article by Lucy Vanel). Apart from the caul fat (sourcing it might be challenging for many people), this is actually a pretty simple recipe to prepare but mine definitely did not turn out the way they are supposed to in terms of texture.
I didn’t use livers this time around (I subbed the same amount of sausage meat) but I don’t think that was the issue. The ingredients for this are simple: liver, ground pork, chard, onions, garlic, herbs and spices and an egg and I’had imagined that you would just cook the livers and roughly chop them then mix them into the rest of the ingredients and make the meatball shapes. Here, the recipe calls for you to cook the liver (ok, fine) but then also cook the ground pork through not once but twice – first in a skillet on the stovetop, then in the oven. In between, you pulse all the ingredients in a food processor (why?) and the resulting mixture is very dry once cooked (despite the fact that I used sausage meat and ground pork that were both fairly fatty).
I had hoped that the bacon cooking on top (the substitute for caul fat) might impart some fat and flavour to my caillettes but unfortunately no. I’ve actually eaten these a few times in France and mine definitely did not taste like I remembered them, but do believe that the ingredients would work if you just treated them more like a meatball – cooking the liver, onions, garlic and chard then mixing them into the raw meat and wrapping the meatballs in either caul fat or bacon and cooking them in the oven.
If you’re curious and are looking for another recipe, here’s one from Lucy Vanel of the Plum Lyon Teaching Kitchen (with whom I’ve actually eaten caillettes in Lyon!)
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