Pumpkin Satchels

Chaussons au Potiron

Preparation info

  • Servings:


    —about 36 satchels
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

Called, in Niçois dialect, Barba Jouan (“Uncle John”), these little pastry purses, served hot from the oven as an hors d’oeuvre and washed down with a well-chilled white wine redolent of the fruit of tender youth—Muscadet, Pouilly-fumé, Sancerre, for instance—are a joy and a perfect example of that which the meridional French like to describe affectionately as their cuisine spirituelle. They may also be served, apart, as an accompaniment to a bouillon or other relatively light soup to the advantage of both.

Sharp, powerful sheep’s milk cheese—a local and noncommercialized peasant production—goes into the making of an authentic Uncle John. Roquefort provides an honorable substitute.

The pastry should be rolled out as thinly as possible and, to this end, a pasta machine is a great help; the dough should be kneaded, in this case, no more than absolutely necessary to render it manageable before being rolled out (I use the next to last notch on a machine whose rollers may be set at eight different thicknesses). Treated in this way, the pastry becomes more shell-like—much firmer and less tender—when cooked. To best make the comparison between this and tender olive oil pastry, it may be useful to prepare Barba Jouan with half of the following recipe and to transform the remainder into a tourte, following, except for the filling, the directions given for zucchini pie (the resultant pumpkin pie may surprise many a compatriot).

Once having had some 2 cups of this leftover filling and a couple of lambs’ brains (poached in court bouillon, sliced, breaded, and cooked in butter) remaining from the previous day, I distributed the brains, in a buttered gratin dish, beat 2 eggs, salt, pepper, and cup of cream into the filling, poured it over the brains, sprinkled the top with Parmesan, and baked it in a hot oven for 25 minutes—until swelled and browned. So taken were friends and I with the result that I have often prepared it since. It may also be transformed, with or without brains, into an open tourte using either a half-baked butter pastry as for the sorrel tart or a half-baked olive oil pastry single shell. In subsequent preparations when the brains were used, they have only been cooked in court bouillon and sliced.