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Alicot is a type of giblet stew popular in the southern regions of France. Chefs use the giblets from various types of fowl to give the stew a hearty flavor. Haricot beans can add substance. In addition to the poultry giblets, chunks of sausage or salt pork provide a more robust taste.
Throughout history, in the southern regions of France, people typically tended toward to frugal. In the more rural areas, where many farmers worked and lived off the land, they made every effort to make the most of what they had. It was against this backdrop and thrifty mentality that alicot was first developed.
This particular stew utilizes parts of fowl that many people might otherwise discard or relegate to gravy making. The giblets of the bird include the heart, gizzard, neck, and liver, which form the basis of the dish. Oftentimes, chefs include other parts, such as the feet, wings, and even the head. The type of poultry can also vary, but most often, the traditional French dish contains the giblets of a duck, goose, or pheasant, which are more popular fowl in Europe than in the U.S. Chicken or turkey giblets are other options and tend to give the stew a milder and less gamy taste.
In order to thicken alicot and give it more body, chefs reach for haricot beans. Haricot, which is French for beans, are small, white beans sometimes known as great northern or navy beans and can be added to the stew whole or pureed first, which gives the dish a thicker texture. Adding chunks of salt pork or French sausage, such as andouillettes or boudin blanc, to the mix gives the stew more substance. For a spicier flavor, saucisse basquaise, which is a flavorful hot sausage, makes a good addition. Onions and tomatoes are also popular in alicot, as is a hearty dose of white wine.
Chefs typically leave this particular stew to simmer for a long period of time, often as long as eight hours, in order to give the flavors a chance to blossom and meld together. Usually, once the alicot is finished cooking, chefs remove the giblets and other poultry parts and either chop them up and readd them to the stew or discard them. The stew is generally a main course with plenty of crusty French bread and, of course, a bottle of fine French wine.
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