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OP: Au Pied du Cochon: Sugar Shack

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by Martin Picard

Martin Picard—along with his contemporaries at Joe Beef, Fred Morin and David McMillan—is giving form to cuisine Quebecoise, drawing from its French roots and celebrating the hearty, rustic fare of Canada’s indigenous ingredients. The result is a rich, hedonistic experience with absolute respect for ingredients. 

This 2012 follow up to Au Pied de Cochon: The Album (2006), in addition to being a cookbook dedicated to the wonders of maple, is a document of the maple making process at the restaurant’s remote sugar shack, where the syrup is extracted and refined.

Every recipe in Au Pied du Cochon: Sugar Shack utilizes maple, not just as a replacement for white sugar or as a sweetener in general, but as a major contribution to the flavor profile of each dish and beverage. It is a celebration of the versatility of an ingredient, successfully avoiding gimmickry or stale, overwrought concepts.

And, perhaps contrary to expectation, the recipes are not exclusively for the pastry side of the kitchen.

You will find recipes for the PDC breakfast sandwich in which, not only are the sausage and muffin sweetened by maple syrup and granulated maple sugar, respectively, but the eggs are also simmered sunny side up in syrup. Veal tongue is glazed with a mixture of maple syrup, stock, and carrots and served with mayonnaise and celery root remoulade.

Of course there are desserts too—and plenty of them. We might call attention to a log cake that employs maple butter and maple mousse. Or perhaps an île flottante served with maple crème anglaise and maple caramel, the French meringue made with maple sugar.

True to the Picard style, there is nothing subtle here, and, aided by the illustrations and photography of Marie-Claude St-Pierre, Marc Séguin, and Tom Tassel, Sugar Shack is a boisterous production sure to stimulate the creative juices. Our copy is a Near Fine, first printing issued without dust jacket.

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