A couple of years ago, I worked on the Olida Express account for a Montreal advertising agency. And Olida belongs to Fleury Michon, which is how I came to learn of this brand ubiquitous in France. Then, because it’s a small world, I was recently invited to the launch of Fleury Michon’s ready-to-eat line in Montreal.
If I may put on my ad writer hat for a second, I actually like the way the brand positions itself. At the time, I interviewed one of its chefs and could feel his deep commitment to good food. He explained to me how easy it is to create a recipe at home but how hard it is to replicate on a production chain. Some ingredients may not be lend themselves to mass manufacturing, have little to no shelf life, and prove cost-prohibitive when 4 servings turn into 4 million… It’s quite the balancing act.
Which of course makes me yearn for, and respect, “clean label” foods even more.
For the launch, I received a box with two Fleury Michon products. One was Surimi, pollock sticks stuffed with cream cheese and basil, which I disliked to the core of my being. But a French friend of mine was dancing with joy and nibbling away when I showed it to her. So, hey, chalk it up to cultural differences?
The Thai Coconut Chicken I liked. Served with a side of jasmine rice, it was fragrant and real tasting (not so much in a “Thai way” if you’re a hot Thai-food addict like me, but in a “real food” way). I also approved of the serving size which shows typical French restraint. The ingredient list is longish but natural. The twist? The entrées are fresh, not frozen, with a 30-day fridge life thanks to pasteurization.
As part of its crossover launch, Fleury Michon recruited the services of chef extraordinaire Danny St Pierre of Auguste Restaurant in Sherbrooke, one of my fave toques in Quebec, as a consultant (Joël Robuchon plays that part in France). Getting local chefs involved is always a good sign. So if you’re looking for lunch ideas on-the-run, you may want to check them out at the grocery store.
Brand: Fleury Michon is a leading brand in France virtually unknown in Quebec. These new ready-to-heat entrées are meant to change all that. Initially sold at IGA, it’s being extended to more stores throughout Quebec.
Price: Usually $5.49 to $5.99
I mostly cook from scratch which is my my way of making sure my family eats healthy foods. My bechamel doesn’t come from an envelope and my—killer—tomato sauce is homemade. Once in a while, like any harried mom, I will open a jar of something or other to improvise a quick supper. Which doesn’t mean I let my guard down: for a jar to enter this house, it has to be “clean label,” i.e. made with real ingredients whose names you can pronounce. (Of course, since I often write packagings for food clients, I don’t let things like Citric Acid scare me off.)
When Fresh Sauces asked if I would participate in the Summer Fresh Sauces Recipe Challenge organized with Food Bloggers of Canada, I agreed because it sounded like the kind of product I’d buy in a pinch. I cooked with four of the sauces (sorry, I couldn’t get behind the Cranberry Madeira…). But the Mushroom Marsala, Butter Chicken, Thai Curry and 3 Peppercorn were nice and above all convenient.
Here’s the recipe I made with the Mushroom Marsala sauce that my family loved best. I amped the mushroom profile and voilà! A quick supper that rallied everyone around the table. BTW I didn’t win the Recipe Challenge. It might have helped if I’d posted this recipe on time. Oh well.
Turkey Marsala with Fried Sage
N.B. I write for the Turkey Producers of Québec and it’s a mystery to me why people don’t eat more turkey with the increasing variety of cuts available. Turkey has great umami and pairs with everything while being the lowest-fat protein after sole. Turkey steaks are easy to cook, beyond tasty and a healthy choice for anyone’s family. And no, my client didn’t pay me to say so…
• butter and/or oil
• bunch of fresh sage
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 container of white mushrooms, sliced
• 4 turkey steaks*
• 1 container of Mushroom Marsala Fresh Sauces
• salt and fresh-ground pepper
* You could use a rolling pin and flatten 2 turkey steaks to make thin scallopini, an even more economical alternative. Of course, you’ll need to adjust cooking time.
1. In a non-stick pan, melt butter or oil until it starts to foam. Fry a few sage leaves (reserve 1 or 2 for the sauce), carefully turning once when they start to stiffen and become a darker green. It should take around 30 seconds to 1 minute on the first side depending on the heat, and much quicker on the second side. Remove to a paper towel.
2. In sage butter, fry the onion until softened. Add mushrooms and let brown without stirring until golden. Salt to taste. Turn over and finish cooking. Remove from pan.
3. Season turkey steaks generously and add to pan to cook on both sides until golden and cooked through, a good 4 minutes per side. Mind that no pink colour remains inside. Pour in sauce and sprinkle a little chopped sage. Add in reserved onion and mushroom. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook until sauce is warm and flavours have blended together.
4. Serve with mashed potatoes decorated with the fried sage.