Ariane’s father, Chef André Daguin, was the first to treat duck breast like a steak, serving it rare in the 1950's at his restaurant in Southwest France. This simple recipe should be a part of every home cook's repertoire.
Calories Per Serving146
Folate equivalent (total)27µg7%
The founder of gourmet food purveyor D’Artagnan Ariane Daguin talks with David Lincoln Ross about what she serves over the holidays and how she got her start with American foie gras.
The founder of gourmet food purveyor D’Artagnan Ariane Daguin talks with David Lincoln Ross about what she serves over the holidays and how she got her start with American foie gras. Plus, recipes for what to cook this New Year’s eve.
If ever there was a time to invoke the Three Musketeers’ rallying cry, it’s during the holidays when culinary challenges tempt professional and amateur chefs alike to outdo themselves with audacious gastronomic adventures. Who better, then, to share some tips and expertise than a native from Gascony, none other than Ariane Daguin, founder of D’Artagnan, the gourmet food purveyor par excellence.
Ariane was born and raised in a two-star Michelin kitchen in Gascony, a rustic corner in Southwest France. Her father, André Daguin, chef-owner of the Hôtel de France in Auch, is credited with bringing seared duck breast, called magret, and preserved duck legs, confit de canard, along with many creative foie gras dishes as well as other Gascon specialties to worldwide attention. But, at first, Ariane trained for a different career, graduating from Columbia with a journalism degree. Gascon roots proved stronger in the end, however, and in 1985, Ariane launched D’Artagnan, initially selling fresh, American-produced foie gras. Home-grown, Hudson Valley foie gras was all but un-heard of here and scandalous to French chefs, many of whom did not believe it could be done in America.
She proved everyone wrong, however, and today, Ariane’s award-winning company, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, sells the finest foie gras, meat, pâtés, sausages, smoked delicacies, organic game, and poultry to top restaurateurs and consumers all across the nation.
All of New York’s four-star restaurants, for example, have D’Artagnan products on their menus. According to Danny Meyer, founder and owner of Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, and other top New York restaurants, “Everyone in the food world knows how influential D’Artagnan has been in almost single-handedly bringing great game and foie gras to chefs in America.”
In early December, I caught up with Ariane, only days before her parents, Jocelyn and André, and Alix, her daughter, were all jetting in to gather for the annual Gascon-style holiday family festivities. Naturally, we wanted to know what she was planning to serve to friends and family and here below are some of her tips, links to recipes and what some of her celebrity clients are planning for their Gascon-style menus.
You come from seven generations in the hotel and restaurant business in Gascony, what possessed you to come to America, enter Columbia and major in journalism?
There was no room in Gascony for me! I was the girl, so my brother, Arnaud, was the designated heir of the business. And I did not want to owe anything to my father’s connections. In addition, I’ve always loved to write and my favorite song of all time was Joe Dassin [ a French-American songwriter]: “America I want it and America I’ll get!”
So what prompted you to return to your roots and become involved in the food and hospitality business here in New York City?
After a pitiful couple of years of trying to catch up to the other students, I decided to keep my summertime gig as a permanent job. It was in a small gourmet charcuterie store, and my boss promoted me to a full time, nicely paid, opportunity to develop the wholesale side.
When did you first discover that fresh foie gras produced in New York’s Hudson River Valley could be every bit as good and delicious as what is available in Gascony in Southwest France?
One day, two guys entered the store with a fresh foie gras in their hands. They were starting the first and only foie gras farm in the United States. I saw it as my mandatory mission in life to develop the cooking and marketing of that duck, by following the path, with the same panache, of my heroic Gascon ancestor D’Artagnan, the brave Musketeer.
D’Artagnan established its reputation by selling American-produced fresh foie gras to top chefs. When do you think your company began to break through and become so popular with everyday chefs at home? Not everybody dines on fresh foie gras at dinner, so how did you expand and add to your product line?
We were very, very lucky. D’Artagnan was born at exactly the right time, when young chefs started to come out from prestigious cooking schools with ambitious new ideas for their menus. And we could not survive on duck and foie gras alone, even if the future potential was great. So right away, 25 years ago, we went and convinced farmers to raise poultry, game birds, and game meats the right way—meaning no hormones, no antibiotics, free range. Our motto was: A happy chicken is a tasty chicken.
And speaking of foie gras, charcuterie, sausages, wild game, meat, and partridges, pheasants, and turkeys, what do you plan on serving this Christmas holiday to your family and friends?
I have to stay pretty traditional with my parents coming, so on Christmas Eve it will be foie gras, oysters, and duck sausage, a capon with black truffle under the skin and, of course, French kisses for dessert.
The next day with friends, I will cook a loin of venison rare and serve it sliced on top of escaoutoun (Gascon grits) finished with truffle butter. We will soak the sauce with corn bread made with duck bacon bits. Most of these dishes are included in my cookbook, Dɺrtagnan Glorious Game Cookbook, which you can order at our website.
While fresh and seared foie gras is a holiday tradition in many top restaurants, what other products are New York’s top chefs using this season from D’Artagnan?
While it is a fact that most of our client-chefs feature foie gras and truffle, in one way or another, on their holiday menus, for some reason, this year, geese and capon are very popular. I think preparing a big bird for a whole table brings a very festive and convivial atmosphere, even in a “serious" restaurant. There is also a big demand for whole porcelets and suckling pigs, for the same reason.
Here’s what some chefs are cooking up for the holidays:
11 Madison Park Restaurant, New York, NY – Dry aged Muscovy duck roasted with lavender, honey, coriander and cumin seeds and peppercorns
Gotham Bar and Grill, New York, NY – Whole Roasted Venison Rack
Biltmore D’or, Coral Gables, Florida – Duck Confit Croustilliant Green Asparagus, Morel Mushroom, and Truffle Sauce or Roasted Buffalo Tenderloin Beurre Rouge, Wild Mushrooms and Rustic Potato Galette
Jean Robert Table, Cincinnati, Ohio – Medallion of Venison with Poivrade Sauce, Cranberry Compote, Chestnut Duo, Sweet Potatoes, Wild Mushrooms and Fondue of Cabbage Goat Cheese Flan
Quince, San Francisco, California – Spit roasted loin of venison with a triangoli of potato, porcini and foie gras winter truffle sauce
And tell us a few secrets about what some of your most famous celebrity customers are going to serve to their friends and family?
I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you! All I can say is that Dita Von Teese, Robert De Niro, Anthony Bourdain, Julio Iglesias, and Stanley Tucci, among others, will all have great food for the holidays!
And what do you think you’ll be serving your family on New Year’s?
I will be toasting the New Year with Pousse Rapière, (pron. pouss rap-yehr)!, which means a “Rapier’s Thrust” it’s a Gascon aperitif that’s easy to make—Fill a Champagne flute three-quarters full with a sparkling wine, add a bit of Armagnac liqueur, or DIY (Armagnac, simple syrup, and a couple of drops of orange essence), and voila, you have a great Gascon cocktail. Very simple hors d’oeuvre, a duck for main course! Happy Holidays and New Year to one and all!
Here are some links, to Ariane Daguin’s Holiday and New Year’s Recipes:
David Lincoln Ross, a member of the Compagnie des Mousquetaires d’Armagnac, an international society devoted to the appreciation of this famous Gascon brandy, is a New York-based food and wine writer.
Another classic recipe, and a signature dish at D’Artagnan, cassoulet is a traditional, thick bean and meat stew from the Southwest of France, where it takes on almost religious importance. Here in the United States we represent with our cassoulet flag held high. Our cassoulet recipe kit makes it simple to reproduce this dish at home, which you should try this winter. It’s a hearty and warming dish – perfect on a cold winter’s night and a group of friends to share.
Ariane’s father, Chef André Daguin, was the first to treat duck breast like a steak, searing it and serving it rare in the 1950s at his restaurant in Southwest France. This simple recipe should be a part of every home cook’s repertoire.
I love duck, cook it frequently, and have included it in all my books. Recently Ariane Daguin, founder of D’Artagnan, invited me to cook with her in an Episode of her video series, Back of the House. Please take a look. Ariane really knows duck she was raised in Auch, Gascony where her father was chef-owner of the Hotel de France. She came to the U.S. for college but recognized a market for some of the amazing foods she was raised on and in 1985 created D’Artagnan, the only purveyor of game and foie gras in the U.S. at the time. Here is the recipe for Araine’s Magret à la D’Artagnan and from Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners, my Sautéed Pekin Duck Breasts with Apricot Szechuan Peppercorn Sauce.
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Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of each breast in a cross-hatch pattern, making the squares as small as possible without cutting into the meat of the breast. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add duck breasts to skillet, skin-side down, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, removing fat from pan as necessary, until skin is crisp, about 6 minutes. Turn, and cook until firm, about 3 minutes more. Transfer duck breasts to a cutting board and tent with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil and let rest.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet and place over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until translucent add wine and cook until reduced by half. Remove skillet from heat and add Armagnac carefully ignite to flambe. Add demi-glace and figs or plums and jam, if making fig or plum version cook until reduced by half. Season sauce with salt and pepper and stir in blackberry jam and 1/2 cup blackberries for blackberry version or truffle butter for truffle version.
Slice each duck breast crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and fan out on each of 4 plates. Drizzle sauce over duck and serve immediately. If making blackberry version, garnish with remaining blackberries.
Score the skin using a sharp knife. Careful not to cut into the meat!
Rub coarse sea salt and black pepper into holes the skin.
Put the duck in a cold frying pan, skin down, and turn on the heat (medium heat).
Once the frying pan gets hot and the skin begins to sizzle, cook the duck for 8 minutes.
The fat will have melted out, so remove it from the frying pan.
Turn the magret de canard over and cook the meat side down for another 4 minutes.
Remove the duck from the frying pan, remove from the frying pan, wrap in aluminum foil and leave to rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Slice to your preferred thickness.
Recipe adapted from chef/owner Tom Colicchio and executive chef Bryan Hunt, Fowler & Wells, New York, NY
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes, plus resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus resting time
For the Porcelet:
½ Honeycrisp apple, cored and coarsely grated
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon minced thyme
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch ground white pepper
One 8-to-9-pound porcelet, ribs removed and loin still attached (see headnote)
For the Braised Cabbage:
1 large head red cabbage&mdashquartered, cored and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Roast Apples and Turnips:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 bunches (2 pounds) Hakurei turnips, trimmed and halved
3 Honeycrisp apples, cored and cut into ¾-inch wedges
2 tablespoons sage leaves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Sauce and Serving:
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1. Prepare the porcelet: Preheat the oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, mix the ground pork, apples, salt, sage, thyme, ginger, sugar, cinnamon and white pepper thoroughly to incorporate.
2. On a cutting board, lay out the porcelet, skin-side down. Remove the ribs and any bones, leaving you with the pork belly and attached loin. Using a sharp knife, trim the pork belly, leaving ¾ inch of meat attached to the skin. Season the inside of the belly with salt, then spread the ground pork mixture along the center of the belly above the loin.
3. Starting from the loin, roll the porcelet tightly into a log, then tie with butcher&rsquos twine into a roast.
4. In a roasting pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the porcelet roast, turning as needed, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cook in the oven until a thermometer inserted through one of the ends reads 140º, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Make sure you are getting a read from the ground pork mixture since that is the center.
5. Meanwhile, braise the cabbage: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, covered, until the cabbage is tender but still has a firmness to it, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside until ready to reheat for plating.
6. Make the roast apples and turnips: In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the turnips and cook, flipping as needed, until the turnips are golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a sheet pan.
7. To the skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, turning as needed until golden brown and tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the sheet pan with the turnips. Toss the turnips and apples with the sage leaves and butter, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside, then flash-heat the sheet pan in the oven for 5 minute before you are ready to plate.
8. Make the sauce: Transfer the cooked porcelet to a cutting board and tent with foil let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer the pan drippings to a measuring cup to allow the fat to separate.
9. Pour off most of the fat, so you are left with ½ cup of pan drippings. Whisk in the mustards and season with salt. As you carve the roast into 1-inch slices, add any drippings on the board to the sauce, adjusting the seasoning as needed.
10. Fan out the pork slices on a serving board over the braised cabbage and alongside the roast apples and turnips, apple butter, and remaining sauce, then serve.