For anybody who doesn’t know Kig Ha Farz, this recipe will probably sound very unusual. But truth is, behind the funny name “Kig Ha Farz” (meaning “meat-and-flour,” in Breton) is actually just that – slow-simmered meats served with dumplings made from two different flours (white and buckwheat).
The Kig Ha Farz is a traditional regional dish hailing from Finistère, in Brittany. It is generous, earthy and a joy for lovers of homely French stews. Although this one comes with a typical twist from Brittany: buckwheat flour!
The two flour-based dumplings (called “farz”) are the most unsual components of the dish here, but truly make the dish. The white farz (white flour based) is dense, smooth and slightly sweet.The black farz (buckwheat flour based) is earthy, nutty and crumbled into fluffly little dumplings.
These farz are traditionally made in Farz Bags. Since I didn’t have a Farz bag (and I would assume most you don’t have one either), I had to get creative. I placed a cotton dish towel in a bowl, poured in the buckwheat batter, gathered the four corners of the towel to make a loose pouch and tied it with butcher’s twine (the farz swells up as it cooks, so make sure the pouch is a bit loose). I repeated the same process for the white farz, dropped both pouches in the simmering meat broth for two hours, and voila!
Once cooled to room temperature, the white farz is simply meant to be unwrapped from the pouch and sliced. For the black farz, grab the pouch and roll it between your hands (to break and crumble apart the inside contents). Shake it too, if needed. When you open the bag, the farz should be all-crumbled up into tiny dumplings, ready to be enjoyed with a delicious Pot-Au-Feu.
According to French Chef Raymond Blanc, pot-au-feu is “the quintessence of French family cuisine. The most celebrated dish in France.”
Personally, I don’t know if I would go as far as saying it is the most celebrated dish in France (maybe it used to be, several decades ago?). Pot-au-feu has as very “vintage” image nowadays in France. People see it as the kind of meal you will only get to eat when you visit your grandparents for Sunday lunch (which I am not sure is a good or bad thing?). Still, it is true to say that a pot-of-feu is the epitomy of French family cuisine. It is the kind of meal meant for a Sunday that gets the whole tribe gathered around a table. A feast of boiled meats and vegetables that offers something for everyone to pick at, according to their taste.
A traditional Pot-au-feu calls for boiled cuts of beef and poitrine salee (“salted pork breast”), which is a meaty, salty piece of pork. It’s hard to find it here in North America, so you can substitute it for corned beef (for a similar meaty texture), or for pork belly or Canadian bacon (for a similar salty taste). As a leaner option this time, I opted for slices of pork shoulder.
And in the case of a kig ha farz, I find that pork sausages are a great addition. They pair deliciously with the buckwheat farz and are very reminiscent of Brittany cuisine, which is heavily pork-based. Some pot-au-feu recipes also call for bone marrows, which helps thickens the broth.
Lastly, the kig ha farz is to be enjoyed with “lipig”, a sauce-like condiment made of slowly caramelized shallots in salted butter. Most French recipes around call for the use of the onions from Roscoff, a distinctive pink onion coming from the same area of Finistère, in Brittany. But as a substitute, shallots work perfectly.
Buckwheat dumplings, boiled pork sausages, shallots and salted butter… it doesn’t get more “Breton” than that.
If you try this Kig Ha Farz recipe, let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram.
Bon Appétit! Or as the Bretons say, Kalon Digor!
For the black Farz
2 cups (250g) buckwheat flour
15cl sour cream
¼ cup butter (65g) (1/2 stick)
For the white farz
2 cups (250g) white flour
¼ cup (55 g) sugar
2 tbsp (30g) butter
For the Pot-au-Feu
1 garlic clove
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
3 lbs pork sausages
3 lbs mixed meats (ie. pork shoulder, pork belly, corned beef)
½ head of cabbage
For the lipig
1 ½ tbsp (40g) salted butter
Fill half of a big stew pot (or Dutch-oven) with water. Throw the mixed meats in it (with the exeption of the sausages). Peel the onion, and poke it with the cloves. Throw the onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in the water. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the farz.
For the black farz – Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, eggs, sour cream and melted butter. Slowly add in the milk while whisking, until you get a smooth, thick but “liquidy” batter. Pour the batter in the farz bag (or dish towel placed in a bowl), tie it up loosely (as the farz will swell up while cooking).
For the white farz - Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the white flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream and melted butter. Slowly add in the milk while whisking, until you get a smooth, thick “liquidy” batter. Pour the batter into a second farz bag (or another dish towel placed in a bowl), tie it up loosely (as the white farz will also swell up while cooking).
Place both farz bags and the pork sausage in the simmering broth and cook for two hours.
After the 2 hours, peel the carrots, remove the green parts from the leeks, cut the cabbage in large wedges and place in the simmering broth for 45 minutes.
While you wait, prepare the lipig – Peel and finely mince the shallots, and let them melt in a small sauce pan, over medium heat, with the butter and two ladles of hot broth. Stir once and a while, until you get a thick, creamy consistency.
To serve, remove the farz bags from the broth. Cut the white farz into slices, and crumble the black farz into tiny dumplings. Remove the meats and veggies from the broth, and serve with the lipig.