I’m strong to the finish cos I eats me spinach
Actually this bad boy is more usually made with Blette which is chard if you aren’t speaking French but if you can’t get that you can use Epinard which is Popeye’s best friend. In my experience it works well with both.
It’s called Pounti and is one of the absolute signature dishes of l’Auvergne region and in particular le Cantal. I give a recipe below. This is not a food blog so it is just my own favourite method and not cleverly photographed. For me, food is for sharing with those I care about so the food posts on my blog are just that – food for you to sample if you care to share. I was entirely put off by the description offered by a French friend who is a vegetarian which might explain her reluctance, when I first stumbled on it. However, I braved it in Salers a day or two before The Man with Two Brains morphed into The Husband with Two Brains and became rather wed to it before I was wed to him. Salers is one of ‘les plus beaux villages de France’ and as such is very much on the tourist map. It’s population is tiny (less than 350 permanent residents) but it positively teems in summer and the shops and eateries and drinkeries thrive. From Toussaint to Paques (November 1st to Easter) it is pretty well closed except for the boulangerie, boucherie and a couple of braveheart businesses. Medieval and with buildings, including the church, hewn from volcanic basalt it is certainly worth a visit but it is a fine example of a place that absolutely lights up in the sunshine and seems to don a rather gloomy shroud in less than clement weather.
This is not lightweight, fashionably clean-eating food. This is hale and hearty prop-up-the-workers in the harsh elements food. It’s a loaf and is generally served warm or cold. If you have it in a restaurant, it will be artfully cut or made as pert little individual cakes and served with a zingy salad often as a starter but also as a main at lunch. It is hefty enough not to require any starch on the side. At home, we served our first attempt two years ago cut into little squares as an appetiser with the appero at a lunch party. Our friends eyed it will a little apprehension but didn’t spit it out and as far as I could see didn’t hide it in their hankies nor handbags either. And we loved it and gave each other surrepticious self-contratulatory looks from across the room. As one does. The rest of that particular loaf (it was large and I have since invested in a smaller tin and halved the quantities for fear of onset Pounti-fatigue on day three) we sliced and took on a long and lovely hike the following day. Treating it as the Cantal equivalent of a super-succulent meatloaf, I suppose though my English reference point would have to be Pork Pie.
Now before I begin, I must warn you that the ingredients list looks odd. But hand on heart, it is really delicious. Think of it as that marriage that you secretly sneered to self would never EVER work and yet as the 2 in 3 fall like skittles by the wayside and prove the statisticians right, it glides effortlessly along with only the merest of bumps in it’s road and melds into the collective consciousness as a mysterious but undoubted triumph.
- 300g Chard (leaves only – use the stalks in a gratin or sautee) or spinach but in either case chopped fine
- 1 large or 2 smaller onions chopped equally fine
- A big bunch of parsley – about the size of a fat head of brocolli. This is much easier to find in France than elsewhere so feel free to play with other gentle flavoured herbs and use dried if you need to. Chop what you have fresh, you guessed it, fine
- 300g Sausagemeat
- 6 eggs given a light beating
- 300g flour. Traditionally it would be buckwheat but white flour is generally better behaved
- 1 teaspoon baking powder unless, of course your flour is self-raising though the comedy value of using both might be worth it for any idle onlookers
- ½ litre milk – mine is semi-skimmed (2%) but feel free to use your favourite – it won’t make any difference to the result. In fact some recipes call for a couple of dollops of creme-fraiche in addition to milk but I stop short of that addition
- 300g stoned prunes (stones removed not drugged for the avoidance of doubt)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
- Grease and flour a 2lb loaf tin or terrine. And line it too if you think your container needs it – I’m all for safety first
- If your prunes are the ready stoned, no soak variety you can now look self-righteous but if not, you need to stone them. My wandering mind now has visions of lining them up and hurling rocks at them. and set them to soak in warm water (or Armagnac if you feel extravagant)
- Once you have finished all that chopping, its a question of mixing all the greens and onions in with the sausagemeat. Squidging with your hands is really the best way and oddly satisfying though I’m not certain I should be admitting to that.
- Mix in the beaten egg and milk – alternating so it doesn’t get too slimey – this is another opportunity for some cheap comedy as getting it wrong can have the whole amorphous lump skating like Bambi on ice out of the bowl on a skid of raw egg
- Seive in the flour (and baking powder if using)
- Season with salt and pepper and add dried herbs if needed to replace or bolster the fresh parsley
- Turn half the mixture into the tin and cover with the pitted soaked prunes
- Cover with the rest of the mix and place in the centre of the pre-heated oven.
- Keep an eye on it – you may need to turn the oven back to 180C/350F/Gas 4 if it seems to be getting too brown too quickly
- Bake for a 45 minutes and then test with a skewer. If it comes out clean it’s done. It will probably need an hour in all
If you halve the quantities, you will need a 1lb tin. I know that sounds obvious and possibly even a trifle condescending but sometimes my meager brain needs a little nudging and though I am sure you are not so afflicted, I would not want to be responsible for any disaster. The baking time will drop by a third. If you choose to make individual loaves or little muffins, the baking time will drop to half.
PS: I remember being desperately disappointed a few years ago when I read that the original Iron Rating made for Spinach by German scientist Emil Von Wolf in 1870 was mistaken. His decimal point was misplaced leading to a caluculation ten times higher than it should have been. The mistake was not discovered until the 1930s. So although it is high in those essential folates, it is not actually any higher than any other green vegetable. Poor old Popeye – I wonder if it was the placebo effect.
Wow this is exciting! I am reading more but my internet keeps going off and I lose my comment! I love the post and the cool pictures of the village! Wow have to try this loaf very interesting!
Salers is always on my visitor list when people come to stay. The Pounti is well worth a go … I’m glad you are enjoying the read but sorry your internet is playing up – guaranteed to make me turn into a ranting monster!!
yes each time I started to read or reply off, is that your husband? I could hardly see with off and on!
That is he of the Brains! And that is she of the Beans 🙂
Hello my friend…for the life of me I could not find you on my list and found you over at lynns blog…yeah….I have read you last few post and wow, what a job to have to clean out all the sawdust….makes you wonder how old and long its been there…I feel for you, but the pictures you posted are beautiful…..I can’t wait to see more….2 hours one way is not bad, mine is 12 hours one way….and only part of my drive is beautiful…LOL love the red speckled cow…and poem….and the spinach bread looks yummy…can’t wait to see more…kat Happy Holidays to you and yours…..
Kat! How LOVELY to ‘see’ you … you were missed 🙂 I have to bin the innate English girl – we think an hour is a trek LOL! So glad you enjoyed the post about the house …. it’s a mission but not mission impossible. The next chapter will be after New Year. I’m planning to do one a month so that I don’t get ahead of the actuals. The cleaning was in fact January-March this year so I have a few more updates before I catch up with where we actually are now – and many, many more before we finish! The cow was just a delight – I’m sure she has a career in movies ahead of her with that expressive face and the loaf is gorgeous but definitely a treat unless you are one of those with super fast metabolisms like my blasted beloved! Happy Holidays to you to and to all you count special in your life xx
Can’t wait sharing your house saga with my husband….he is from Germany and said it sounds like something they would of done there years ago with the saw dust….what a mess!!!…..Ioveux Noel…..
How very interesting. I imagine the sawdust may have been there for many years decades or even more. Which in itself is pretty exciting (though not exciting enough to want to keep it!). Et joyeux noel a vous aussi
Thst recipe-minus prunes- sounds like a farci poitevin…something a neighbour taught me to make – and if it is then no wonder you like it.
The stoned prunes had be laughing….I imagined them rolling around saying ‘peace, man’….
Exactly what I had in mind vis a vis the wrecked Prunes! Interested in the farci – will need to look it up but these things have a habit of being similar with different names across the land, I find. Actually across countries too!
Well this one has escaped me up in the civilised north.
I do trust you, I do I do I do…….but, (you heard it before I wrote it) I was Ok reading the recipe until you slipped in the prunes in, I must say, a rather ‘sous-noir’ manner; likewise, I am all for reading it ‘bottom-up’ until I get to the spinach but, I like a challenge, so I am going to give this one a try…
Do you use ‘saucison’ or have you found a French butcher selling Brit style sausage meat (being a wimpy Parisian I can just skip off to M&S of course)
Love the photos of the town, I do not think that we have visited here, it reminds me a little of ‘Besse’ in the Auvergne, I really want to get back down there and can feel a visit coming on next summer. I will gladly eat Pounti as an apero……
Off to try to get to (and eventually back from) work with only 1 in 4 trains running (encore en greve grrrrrrr) Lucky you in the country!
It does leave itself open to prejudice, I know! Oddly spinach is one of the only greens my youngest daughter will eat more and more of. The prunes reminded me (not in a good way) of Gogol’s ‘Dead Soul’ when at one point he describes a room that is quiet with cockroaches peeping out like prunes from every corner. I decided not to pursue that angle for the title!! If you are going to make it, your butcher/charcuttier should have chair de porc which is what we call sausage meat. You can actually do it with a mixture of lard and a chunk of ham minced too but I have never bothered. I would make halve the quantity for a first attempt and either make it in a small loaf tin or as individual cakes. I hope your journey home was not too frightful …. I’m more likely to get held up by a singing cowman moving his cows down here and I TRULY sympathise. Bises to you xx
A tram, 2 metros and 2 busses later – I am home………I could wax lyrical about my solutions to the problem, but am exhausted by it all, looking forward to taking the bus in Liverpool (or maybe even borrowing the car!)
I love driving in Liverpool – the traffic is so light! Have a slug of the good stuff and enjoy your evening 🙂
This looks lovely. And just in time for a family Xmas gathering where veggie stuff is needed. Thank you for the great idea
My pleasure! I’m glad to help …. Enjoy! 🙂
Nice! Is that your little dog? This reminds me of spinach timbales, something I used to make more often. I love to slice of the French countryside. You capture the images so well.
Thank you! As I say, I’m not even remotely a cookery blog but I do like to share the food along with the other aspects of life here from time to time. It is a little like a timbale but maybe a bit heftier!
Yes. Food is a part of life, so sometimes life spills into food and sometimes food spills into life.
And yes, that is indeed The Bean!
Have just been thinking about your previous post.
I hope the sawdust “insulation” wasn’t centuries of woodworm chaff??
It’s possible. The Charpente was replaced by the previous owner and we suspect he just swept the floor on arrival and stuck it under the floor boards. He did tell us, quite proudly, that he had insulated the grenier! There was a lot else – wood shavings, lightweight rubble …. It was creative 😉
Oh don’t we just love what previous incumbents of our ancient dream homes have been up to over the years…………..?
The Georgian cottage I had in the UK had a cellar full of the rubble created when they “modernised” it in the 80’s. So we had to dig all that out (pile one) then demolish all the crap modernisation carried out (pile two)
My skip bill was ridiculous, If I knew where they skipped off to I would have dumped it on their drive
Its the price one pays for loving vintage houses but it’s cheap at the price when you get to the finish line, I think 🙂
This is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen Fiona!!
I am SO bookmarking this page and trying this out next week….. 🙂
Wierd can be beautiful (or at the very least taste beautiful as the French are fond of proving to me), Cam!
And I will bet it absolutely is YUMMY!
Wow, was enthralled while reading about the town and laughed thru the recipe, which I will be trying my hand at some time in the near future.. and the picture is much better than you think, its barely blurred in the background, which brings focus to the center, which is actually a plus.. sometimes the perfect pic IS the right textures in the right places.. you nailed it in my opinion.. I think I should just send you my recipes so you can write them up and post them on my blog for me.. lol.. I love seeing your world thru your pics and writing..
That meat/veggie/fruit loaf seems like it will be a winter comfort food.. yummy yum yum 🙆
Thank you so much for that lovely comment … I’m glad to have made you laugh and certainly do give the recipe a try (heeding all warnings contained in the notes) if you have the time – it will certainly comfort on a cold day. I will certainly try to keep pleasing with my happy snaps and nonsense 🙂
I am not sure if I can achieve the results you have with this recipe, but I think I’m going to try. If it ever gets cold here in RI we’ll need some hearty food!
It’s certainly hearty …. Make a small quantity unless you have company – fatigue can set in on day three otherwise!
I love pounti and we try to eat it every time we come to the Cantal. Which reminds me that the last time we were there was in September 2013. Not good enough…
Oh it is so GOOD to hear from a fellow pounti appreciator. Cantal will be there whenever the time is right for your return 🙂
This looks amazing and I like adding prunes (or dates in other recipes) to sweeten the bread or muffins. I like your Brains and the Bean photo, thanks for sharing this, Osyth.
I once in awhile write about food. Chili and soup are popular; but I do like McDonalds oatmeal with raisins, craisins and chopped apples and pecans for $1.99. All day breakfast item I posted it once since I like other oatmeal than my own. 🙂
I’m a date fan too (the edible kind, you understand) …. I need to delve further into your blog and find the food – I don’t share much mainly because I always forget to take pictures but occasional is fun … The pounti is seriously good 😉
And again, I love your style! I also love this recipe, and I will definitely make this whatchamacalit as soon as I figure out what to use instead of milk. Buckwheat flour sounds great, even though white flour “behaves better,” but I generally prefer anyone and anything that misbehaves and have more fun with it.
You are MY kind of gal…. misbehaviour is SO so much more interesting. And fun! I’m away without Wi-Fi for a few days but I look forward to catching more of you when I’m back. I promise to follow you then because I seem to think I meant to when Cooking from the Heart introduced you. It’s pronounced Poonty by the way and I’ve since made it with almond milk and chestnut puree instead of the meat. It worked deliciously ☺
I am a perpetual subversive element, and I have a feeling that you are in a similar category. Birds of a feather go nuts together. Thank you for advice re: non-dairy substitutions.
Enjoy your “away” time!
P.S. I especially appreciated “stoned plums.” Bob Dylan rime!
Hurrah for the kindred bazaar (or is it bizarre 😉) x
Spelling is vastly overrated 🙂