Lou Fassum, also known as “La Farcidura,” is a classic French dish that hails from the region of Nice. It is a delectable and hearty stuffed rolled meat dish, traditionally made with Swiss chard or other greens and filled with a flavorful mixture of ground meat, rice, herbs, and spices. This dish is a beloved specialty of Provence, and its name, “Lou Fassum,” translates to “the wrapped” in the local Niçard dialect. If you’re looking to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to your kitchen, this step-by-step guide to making Lou Fassum will help you create this culinary masterpiece at home.
For the Filling:
1. 1 lb ground beef or a mixture of ground meats (e.g., beef, pork, and veal)
2. 1 cup uncooked rice
3. 1 large onion, finely chopped
4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
5. 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
6. 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
7. 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
8. 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
9. 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
10. Salt and pepper to taste
For the Swiss Chard Wraps:
1. 1 large bunch of Swiss chard or other leafy greens
2. Kitchen twine or toothpicks for securing the rolls
For the Tomato Sauce:
1. 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
2. 1/4 cup olive oil
3. 1 onion, finely chopped
4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
5. 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
6. Salt and pepper to taste
Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide to making Lou Fassum:
1. Prep the Swiss Chard: Start by washing and removing the tough stems from the Swiss chard leaves. Blanch the leaves in boiling water for a few seconds to soften them. Then, transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
2. Prepare the Filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, uncooked rice, chopped onion, minced garlic, fresh herbs (parsley, basil, and mint), grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together until the filling is well combined.
3. Create the Rolls: Lay one Swiss chard leaf flat on a clean surface. Depending on the size of the leaf, place about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat and rice filling near the base of the leaf. Carefully fold in the sides of the leaf, then roll it up from the base, forming a tight, compact roll. Use kitchen twine or toothpicks to secure the roll, ensuring it holds its shape.
4. Repeat the Process: Continue to create rolls with the remaining Swiss chard leaves and filling until all the ingredients are used up. This should yield approximately 8 to 10 rolls, depending on the size of your leaves and how much filling you use in each.
5. Prepare the Tomato Sauce: In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, cooking until they become translucent and fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and fresh basil, season with salt and pepper, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Allow it to cook for about 10 minutes.
6. Cook the Lou Fassum: Carefully nestle the Swiss chard rolls into the tomato sauce. Make sure they are fully submerged in the sauce. Cover the skillet or pot and let the Lou Fassum simmer over low heat for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the rice is fully cooked and the meat is tender.
7. Serve: Once cooked, carefully remove the Lou Fassum rolls from the skillet, and place them on a serving platter. Pour the tomato sauce over the top, garnish with additional fresh herbs, and serve hot.
Lou Fassum, with its rich flavors and the unique combination of meat, rice, and Swiss chard, is a delightful dish that captures the essence of Mediterranean cuisine. By following this step-by-step guide to making Lou Fassum, you can recreate this traditional Niçoise specialty in your own kitchen. The result is a beautifully wrapped, savory delight that will transport your taste buds to the sunny shores of the French Riviera. Enjoy your culinary journey, and savor the delicious flavors of Lou Fassum.