Burgundy might be world renowned for its wonderful wines, but the region also produces some pretty fabulous food as well. Here we explore just a few of the gastronomic delights of this region – along with recipes for some fizz-friendly canapés. Bon appétit!
The Burgundy town of Dijon has been a centre of mustard-making since the early Middle Ages. It wasn’t until 1756, however, that Dijon mustard as we know it today emerged, when mustard-maker, Jean Naigeon, replaced the vinegar in the recipe with verjuice – a liquid extracted from wine grapes which are still green at harvest time. Today, it’s common for white wine to be used in place of verjuice, but the effect is the same: a smoothly delicious, less acidic form of mustard.
Delicious Burgundian Dijon mustard has a vast array of culinary uses – from salad dressings to marinades and sauces. In the following recipe, it works beautifully to create a tasty (and pretty) platter of party snacks.
Dijon devilled quail eggs
6 quail’s eggs
1½ tbsp sour cream
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Smoked paprika, to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Dill sprigs, to garnish
Fill a pan with cold water and gently lower in the eggs. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, remove from the heat and leave the eggs in the hot water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool the eggs under cold running water, then peel them.
Cut each egg in half lengthways. Carefully scoop out the yolks put them in a bowl, putting the emptied whites to one side.
Mix the sour cream, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper with the egg yolks. Stir until well combined then gently spoon the mixture back into the hollowed egg whites.
Sprinkle with paprika and dill and serve immediately.
Crème de Cassis
The same soil and climate conditions that help vines to thrive in the Burgundy region also allow blackcurrants, or cassis, to grow abundantly.
The fruits are perhaps most famously used to make Crème de Cassis, an alcoholic liqueur first made in Dijon in 1841 and which is now a French staple – no more so than as part of a Kir cocktail. Named after a former mayor of Dijon, the Kir is a blend of Crème de Cassis with white wine, becoming a Kir Royale when paired with sparkling wine – traditionally Crèmant de Bourgogne.
In Burgundy, this delicious aperitif is often paired with regional speciality, gougères: mouth-watering cheesy-choux puffs, made with local Comté or the very similar Gruyère cheese.
70 g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp thyme
Pinch cayenne peppe
½ cup water
60 gm (2 oz) unsalted butter cut into small cubes
2 large eggs at room temperature
75gm Comté or Gruyère cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
Mix flour salt, black pepper, thyme and cayenne in a medium-sized bowl. Combine water and butter in a large heavy saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring as the butter melts.
Remove pan from the heat and add the seasoned flour mix in one go. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough clumps into a ball and stops clinging to the side.
Transfer dough to a large mixing bowl. Gently beat in the eggs one at a time, until each is fully absorbed. When done, the dough should be smooth and satiny.
Add the cheese to the dough and beat in thoroughly.
Using two teaspoons or a piping bag, shape balls about 2cm in diameter onto buttered baking sheets, around 4cm apart. Bake for 10 minutes, turning baking sheets halfway through, until the gougères reach a rich golden brown. Serve warm.
15ml Crème de Cassis
Chilled sparkling wine
Pour the Crème de Cassis into the bottom of a Champagne flute and simply top up with sparkling wine.
Proclaimed as “king of all cheeses” by famous French gastronome Brillat-Severin in the early 1800s, Epoisses has been made in the Burgundy village of the same name since local monks began producing it in the 16th century. This pungent, soft cows-milk cheese has an edible orange rind, created by ‘washing’ in brine and marc de Bourgogne – a kind of brandy.
The round cheese is sold in wooden boxes and often served with a spoon due to its extreme squidgyness (not a technical term). Similar to fellow soft French cheese, Camembert, Epoisses is delicious when warmed up in its wooden box and served like a mini-fondue, as in the following recipe.
Baked Epoisses with asparagus & bread
1 box Epoisses cheese
12 asparagus spears, trimmed
Sea salt for seasoning
Crusty bread to serve
Preheat oven to 200C/390F.
Take cheese out of its box, remove inner packaging, place back in box and replace the lid.
Place onto a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese inside has melted.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add asparagus. Simmer for around 3 minutes or until al dente. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Dip the warm asparagus and crusty bread into the cheese and enjoy!