In my pleasingly never-ending quest for new foods, I have been told about this traditional French dish from the Drôme region of south-eastern France. I say that it’s from the Drôme but the dish is one of those whose roots, as well as the authentic recipe, are hotly disputed. The strongest dispute seems to be between the Drômois and the Ardéchois. Even the versions I found that claimed to be Drômois varied. Which is fortunate, since I couldn’t find all of the ingredients that I allegedly needed.
Caillette is a French word for a cow’s stomach and it has this name because of the shape and because of the amount of greens in the dish make it, well, like a cow’s stomach. Which, I’m sure, is an incentive to those of you considering making this dish.
The heart and pig cheeks are optional but I would encourage you to at least use liver as the dish is rather like a paté. You can also use lungs too.
As an aside, pig cheeks are magnificent and, if you’ve got the time, make a spectacular pasta sauce when cooked for ages with tomatoes, red wine and a kick of good chilli. Same goes for ox cheeks, which make a fantastic boeuf bourguignon.
The point of the dish is to have a load of greens in it. If you can’t find chard then use spinach or maybe even Savoy cabbage would do it. You can also use salad leaves.
Anyway, here goes. You will need:
300g pork shoulder
300g pork liver [I used veal liver]
200g pig heart [I used veal heart]
A couple of pig cheeks
100g pork caul [I bought 200g since I am likely to make mistakes]
300g blettes [or you can use chard or something similar]
300g of spinach
100g mixed salad leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon of lard
mixed herbs [e.g. parsley, basil or thyme]
salt and pepper
Clean the blettes and spinach [and any other leaves] and cook in salted water for about 5 or 10 minutes, rinse well, squeeze dry then chop. If you are using salad leaves then you don’t need to cook them for so long.
Chop or mince the meat. The texture is down to your preference but don’t go too big. Just under half a centimetre should be your upper limit.
In a pan, melt the lard and fry the onion, add the meat, add chopped garlic and herbs. Season then add the chopped leaves and mix, cook for 7-8 minutes
Preheat oven to 200°C
Spread the caul out.
Shape the mix into balls about the size of apples
and wrap each ball in a piece of caul and place on a baking dish
and bake for about 30 minutes.
Serve with mash or cold as you would a pâté, with cornichons and bread.