The Cévennes were on the tour de France's menu yesterday. Another beautiful region part, and at the border, of the Massif Central, this wide (15% of the whole French territory) plateau and small mountain enclave in the Southern center of France. After Ardèche, this is another region of traditions and legends, such as the Beast of Gévaudan and other Werewolves! Another legend, but I like this one concerns the name Cévennes itself, Cebenas in Occitan, that would come from Ceba, meaning onion, in reference to its schist layer geological formation. Interesting or fabricated, as onion is also the iconic product of the area, a candy onion called Oignon doux des Cévennes and the only onion benefitting of a Protected Designation of Origin.
So, I cooked onions... Not Oignon doux des Cévennes, but local sweet candy onions. And not one specific recipe from the area, but 3 recipes involving other product specialties from there (chestnuts, walnuts, bacon...):
- An Onion "Flower", made of seared "petals" of an onion previously blanched in a vegetable-aromatized broth, filled and/or garnished with a celeriac purée, toasted chestnut fragments, bacon dices...
- An onion gratin, featuring thin onion slices and puréed onion mixed with Laguiole cheese (the same cheese that, when fresh, is incorporated in the famous aligot from the neighbour region of Aubrac), pan-cooked, then gratinéed and topped with fried bacon and toasted chestnut fragments.
- A stuffed onion shell: onion halves were baked in an aluminum papillote for 45 minutes, then inside layers were scooped out, chopped, and mixed with crushed toasted walnuts and fried bacon dices. Shells made of the two outside layers were filled with this stuffing, topped with walnut fragments, bacon dices and baby chanterelle mushrooms previously blanched in the vegetable broth. The whole was baked for around 10 minutes and served with a sauce made of the reduced broth enriched with butter.
* During the Tour de France, combining two of my passions, biking and cooking, I will try to present (almost) every day a recipe from ) the route followed by the peloton.