by Gordon Nary
St. Remi (St. Remigus) is a popular French saint who was responsible for converting the Franks, the tribe from which France takes its name, to Christianity. Remi was appointed Archbishop of Reims in 460 when he was only twenty-two years old.
The legends about St. Remi have had a major influence in the history of the French monarchy. According to one of these legends, when Remi was baptizing Clovis, the King of the Franks, he misplaced the chrism (holy oil) that was used for the anointing ceremony. A dove appeared overhead with an ampulla (vile) of chrism. This ampulla was preserved at the abbey of St. Remi and used in the consecration of all of the subsequent kings of France.
Remi was also supposed to have given King Clovis the power to cure scrofula ( a form of tuberculosis characterized by a swelling of the lymph glands in the neck), a power that was exercised by all subsequent kings at their coronations until Charles X. St Remis' relics were initially kept in the Cathedral of Reims, and in 1099, at the instance of Pope Leo IX, to the Abbey of Saint-Rémy.
St. Remi's feastday is indelibly associated with a partridge because of the French jingle:
A la Saint Remi Perdreaux sont perdrix (On St. Remi's feastday, young partridge turns into old partridge)
A perdreaux is a young partridge and a perdrix is an old partridge. Technically, perdreaux was never served after October 1st because it was too tough and automatically became a perdrix. Since the older partridge is too tough for roasting, it is usually braised with cabbage and bacon. Although St. Remi's feastday has been celebrated for centuries with Perdrix aux Chou (old partridge with cabbage) or Perdrix St. Remi, the availability of frozen partridge makes it possible to reverse the classic tradition and serve Perdreaux St. Remi (young partridge with cabbage) on his feast day..
Related to the pheasant, partridge is not a native North American bird but is related to various species originating in Europe, the Near East, and Asia. Because of their similar size, partridges in the U are often confused with quail. Typically one partridge would be served per person. Fresh partridge is generally available from fall to the end of January in specialty meat markets. Frozen partridges are be available at other times of year in many countries.
Perdreaux St. Remi (Young Partridge and Cabbage Casserole)
2 young partridges (1&1/2 - 1&3/4 lbs each) salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
12 slices of bacon cut into 2" pieces 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 medium onions, chopped fine 2 carrots, sliced very thin *See Appendix A 1 small head of cabbage, shredded 1 TB flour 1 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup brandy 1/4 cup white glace de viande* 1 bouquet garni*
Salt and pepper partridges and set aside .
Cook bacon in a flameproof casserole dish over medium heat until golden, but not crisp. Remove bacon pieces.
Brown partridge halves on both sides in bacon drippings over medium heat. Remove and set aside.
Add garlic and onions to casserole and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent (about 2 - 3 minutes). Add carrots and cabbage and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until softened, stirring constantly. Add wine, glace de viande, and bacon pieces. Cook over low heat for 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place partridges over cabbage mixture. Add bouquet garni. Cover casserole and cook over low heat for 50 - 60 minutes.
A few minutes before serving, remove partridges. Remove cooked vegetables, discard bouquet garni, and strain remaining liquid. Add brandy and cook rapidly over high heat until reduced by 50%. Adjust for salt and pepper.
Split partridges in half. Mound bacon/vegetable mixture on plate. Place partridges over mixture. Top with sauce and serve.
St. Remi's popularity is not limited to France. The Italians also celebrate his feast with Torta San Remigio, an unusual torte filled with sweetened mascarpone cheese.
Torta San Remigio (St. Remi's Mascarpone Torte)
5 eggs separated 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup butter, very soft 1&3/4 cups flour dash salt 1 tsp baking powder
3 TB vanilla wafer crumbs, ground fine 8 oz mascarpone cheese 1 TB grated orange rind 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar 1 tsp vanilla
butter for pan
Beat egg yolks and sugar in a bowl over boiling water until frothy (about 5 minutes).
Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix in soft butter. Fold mixture into yolk/sugar mixture. Gradually fold egg whites into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 35 minutes. Remove cake and place on rack to cool.
Make filling by combining cheese, confectioner's sugar (reserve 1 TB of sugar), orange zest ,and vanilla.
Split cooled cake into two layers. Spread filling on bottom layer. Top with remaining layer. Sprinkle with remaining TB of confectioner's sugar and serve.
© 2010 Gordon Nary