Blanquette is a classical French white stew popular in past centuries. It’s an example of “Cuisine Bourgeoise,” the fancy home cooking of the French Middle Class, rather than either a high-end restaurant dish (“Haute Cuisine”) or a provincial staple of the peasantry or urban poor. Literally indicating a dish containing a white meat in a white sauce, blanquette in France was traditionally made with veal, although there were also less prestigious pork and chicken versions. Nowadays, veal is expensive, not particularly good in the US (in my view), and is increasingly frowned upon because of the treatment of calves in producing veal. Although I haven’t tried it in a blanquette, turkey breast or breast tender is often substituted for veal in Europe. 

Here is my version of blanquette using pork, in French “Blanquette de Porc.” At our restaurant, a customer who has strong Louisiana ties frequently requests that we make this dish, which we sell frozen in quarts. He likes to serve Louisiana and French and Créole food when he entertains. I just made a moderately large batch today at his request, and got it quarted and into the freezer for him to have around the New Year holiday.  

Pork tenderloin, a favorite of mine, is relatively easy to cook with and it is often sold quite cheaply at warehouse clubs and supermarkets. It’s almost entirely edible, tender and moist, needs little trimming and has decent, if somewhat mild flavor. I have trouble believing how cheap it often is. It must be that people don’t know how to cook with it. Other, to me inferior, cuts like shoulder steaks, loin and pork chops often get higher prices.

Blanquette was originally a creation from Normandy, so a potato dish would be a more conventional accompaniment than rice or noodle dishes from the south of France. But those latter can work too. Baguette or toasted bread also goes well. My preference for a pairing wine would be a relatively full-bodied white, such as an unoaked Chardonnay or Viognier, and not a red or rosé. 

The recipe will make about two quarts, and will serve six to eight people.


2 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch wide

1/2 pound mushrooms, tip of stem cut off and top sliced 1/2-inch wide

1 small onion, finely diced

4-inch piece of celery finely diced

1 small clove garlic minced

1 slice raw bacon, finely minced

2 pounds pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt for the meat plus more for cooking

1/4 teaspoon black pepper for the meat plus 1/4 teaspoon for cooking

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons white wine

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed

2 cups chicken broth, low or non-salt

1 large bay leaf

1 cup sour cream 

Prepare the carrots and mushrooms and set aside. Dice or mince the other three vegetables and bacon and set aside. (The dicing/mincing can be done by hand, or the onion, celery, garlic and bacon can be finely chopped, but not pureed, together in a food processor). 

Trim any fibrous “silver skin” and excess fat from the meat. Split each tenderloin lengthwise down the middle. Cut the pieces crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Mix well with the cornstarch, salt, black pepper, nutmeg and white wine. 

Heat oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Cook the marinated pork, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot, until meat has fully changed color. Remove it to a bowl and scrape in any juices. 

Add several tablespoons more oil to the pot and cook in the onion, celery, garlic and bacon, stirring very frequently, until becoming tender. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, covered, five minutes. Add sliced carrots and mushrooms and simmer, covered, stirring from time to time, until carrot is nearly tender. 

Add the pre-cooked pork, bring to a boil and cook five minutes. Add sour cream, stir in and bring just back to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir well, and taste for salt. Add some as needed. Remove the bay leaf. 

The stew can be served now or cooled and reheated to serve later.


 Tonnato: My “Triple-Fish” appetizer accidently recreated a classic


There’s nothing new under the sun said the Book of Ecclesiastes over 2200 years ago. Illustrating the point, perhaps accidentally, Shakespeare restated the nothing-is-new idea some 1800 years later in Sonnet 59. I stumbled over that old truth myself several years ago when a dish I created turned out already to exist. I had, in effect, reinvented the wheel.
For my daughter Maria’s pottery exhibits I’ve developed several appetizer dishes to pair with her ceramic ones. One such creation was a dip I called then “Double-Fish Cream.”  This appetizer was suggested by, and designed to be served from, a dish of Maria’s inscribed with fish motifs.
The double-fish cream was well received at a fancy pottery-related gathering. An older, well-travelled German lady complimented me on my delicious “tonnato.” Hmmm.
Tonnato, a name I faintly recognized as an Italian sauce containing its namesake, tuna, was something I had never eaten or even seen, much less knowingly prepared. However, it turns out that, indeed, my double-fish cream resembles the classic sauce. Maria suggested that perhaps it was channeled down through our Italian ancestry.
An old-fashioned tuna-enhanced mayonnaise from northern Italy, tonnato also often contains anchovy and cream – as mine does – and typically contains capers – as mine does. While usually a sauce for cold sliced veal in “Vitello Tonnato,” a classy Italian restaurant dish popular in past generations, it can also be paired with sliced boiled potatoes for an elegant potato salad.
My dish, varying slightly from classic tonnato, uses cream cheese rather than egg and oil to make a mayonnaise, and contains traces of horseradish and tomato. I now call it “Triple Fish Dip” because I added a little Asian fish sauce as part of the seasoning.
So here is. I propose it as an appetizer to spread or dip onto thin bread slices or water crackers, or adding a little more liquid to make it a sauce, try it spooned over cold, sliced and lightly salted boiled potatoes for an elegant potato salad.
Wines that would go with this dip are crisp, chilled whites like Sauvignon blanc or Pinot grigio.
The recipe makes enough for 6-8 people, depending on what it’s served with.
Triple-Fish Cream Appetizer or Sauce
8-ounce package of cream cheese (or reduced-fat “Neufchatel” cream cheese)
1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets (at supermarket near tuna) or 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
1 (5-ounce) can tuna in olive oil, not drained
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 medium scallion (green onion), cut in pieces
1 teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon Asian fish sauce, plus more to taste, or substitute 1/4 tsp salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh dill or parsley sprigs for garnish
In food processor, blend cream cheese, anchovy fillets and their oil (or anchovy paste), and tuna and its juices. Scrape down inside of the food processor bowl periodically with a spatula. Add remaining ingredients, other than dill or parsley, and blend well. If a wetter dip or sauce is desired, add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time.
Let sit 10 minutes. Then taste and add a little fish sauce or salt, if needed.
Serve in a shallow dish. Garnish with sprigs of dill or parsley.
Accompany with thinly sliced baguette, melba toast, bagel crisps, water crackers or other low-salt, unflavored crackers. Alternatively, serve mixed with thinly sliced, peeled, boiled potatoes that have been sprinkled lightly with salt.



Spinach Artichoke Dip for Holiday Entertaining
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
2 cups (packed) fresh, well-washed spinach leaves (or small package frozen spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out)
2 green onions, cut in pieces
1/4 pound (4 ounces) cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Salt to taste, 1/2 teaspoon to start
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Small pinch of grated nutmeg
Small pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
Paprika and/or minced parsley for garnish
In food processor, finely chop – but do not puree – the drained artichokes, spinach, and green onion. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, and remainder of the ingredients other than the paprika. Run the food processor to blend mixture well, scraping down the inside of the processor bowl with a spatula several times.
If dip is too thick add a little water. Taste and add salt, as necessary, and more lemon juice if there isn’t a mild tang. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes, mix again. Taste and do any final adjustments of salt and lemon juice.
Serve in an attractive bowl and lightly sprinkle with paprika and/or minced parsley. Accompany with low-salt crackers or melba toast.

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