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The Old Bachelor's Fruit Preserves
(Confiture de Vieux Garçon)



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La Belle Cuisine


The Old Bachelor's Fruit Preserves
( Confiture de Vieux Garçon)

Ducasse Flavors of France
by Alain Ducasse, with Linda Dannenberg, 1998,
Artisan, a Division of Workman Publishing, Inc.

There are $50 cookbooks, and then there are $50 cookbooks. This one, in our
opinion, is well worth the money. At least that. Not only do we receive the gift
of Chef Ducasse’s recipes in this long-awaited American cookbook debut, but
we are graced with the phenomenal culinary photography of Pierre Hussenot
as well.  A treasure, to be sure…

And in case you are not yet familiar with Alain Ducasse, we are honored
to make the introduction:
"Brash, driven, and dazzlingly inventive, six-star-chef Alain Ducasse is a
larger-than-life figure. At thirty-three, he was the youngest chef ever to
be awarded three Michelin stars, and in March, 1998, he became the only
chef in our time to possess six stars. He has mentored a generation of
younger chefs who have introduced his cooking around the world and
has, quite simply, changed the face of traditional French cooking." 

The following recipe is quite simple. It proves, once again, that if you take
care to use only the finest ingredients and approach your task with devotion
and skill, the result will be magnificent.

"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection."
~ Curnonsky

“These preserves are not really preserves in the traditional sense, but rather a
mélange of sun-drenched fruit soaked in alcohol. The heady confiture is not
served at breakfast or teatime, but with coffee, after the evening meal. Fruit
and alcohol are served together in a glass or cup or, more informally, in a
still-hot coffee cup.
These are a traditional treat in Provence at the end of Christmas or New
Year’s Eve dinner.
No matter the quantity, you always use the same weight of sugar as fruit, so
if you would like to make a little more, for example, with 5 pounds of fruit,
use 5 pounds of sugar. Increase the brandy proportionately, as well. Choose
four to six of the following fruits, depending on market availability; you
don’t necessarily need equal amounts of each fruit. Once the confiture is
begun,  you can continue replenishing it, adding more sugar, fruit and
alcohol. Be sure to cover the fruit with the alcohol or it will spoil.”

3 pounds granulated sugar
3 cups marc de Provence, pear or
raspberry eau-de-vie,
Armagnac, or kirsch

For the Fruit:
Enough of 4 to 6 different kinds to equal 3 pounds:
Medium strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and halved
Blackberries, rinsed and patted dry
Blueberries, rinsed
Peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into eighths
Ripe but firm pears, peeled, halved, cored,
and cut into 1/2-inch slices

Combine the sugar and marc de Provence in a large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Layer the fruits in a wide-mouth 1/2-gallon canning jar or a 1/2-gallon
ceramic pot with a tight-sealing lid. Arrange the fruits in the following order: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches and pears. Pour
in enough of the sugar mixture to cover the fruit and almost fill the jar;
leave about 1 inch empty to allow for the slight expansion of the fruit as it ferments. (If you have any marc de Provence left over, save it for another
use, such as poaching fruit.) Seal the jar and set in a cool dark place. Let macerate for at least 2 months, turning the jar upside down every week or
two, so that any sugar settled on the bottom will permeate the fruits.
Serve in small glasses, generously dispensing the liquid in the jar along with
the fruit.  Makes 1/2 gallon.

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