Fouée: Wood oven baked bread
Today, we were in the hunt for a cabinet to use as a bar in our living room, when we accidentally stumbled into a food and wine festival (more on that later). As we were walking around, our eyes were instantly drawn to one booth that had a huge wood burning oven. As we got closer, we realized they were baking small squares of bread! Now, wood-burning ovens are one of my favorite ways to cook food, and we knew right away that we had to try them.
The vendor was making fouée, a very light bread that starts flat and then puffs up like a pillow. They’re light and airy and perfect for stuffing.
We bought three in total (though I only snapped pictures of two). One stuffed with garlic cheese and “herbes fines” (fine herbs–usually chives, parsley, tarragon and chervil), one stuffed with tuna salad and one stuffed with salted caramel. The cheese and herb one was delicious, warm and gooey. The other two were just meh, though. They’re often served with pork rillettes, a cooked down pork shoulder that’s been shredded and cooled with fat so that it becomes a spread (I’ve never tried cooking this, but here’s a good recipe).
The bread itself, though, was fantastic (believe it or not, there are some French breads that don’t pass muster–we’ll discuss that at another time). They came out warm and were the perfect combination of lightness and chewiness, all with a slightly woody taste from the oven.
I would’ve loved to have had one that was stuffed a lot more, but that’s just the American in mind (the French are typically far more reserved in their portions). I could see using them for some grilled chicken or shish kebab, or even falafal. They’re similar to pita bread, so my mind instantly goes in a Middle Eastern direction. And, if I was taking this wood-fired oven delicacy a step further than the vendor did (and keeping it French), I’d stuff it with goat cheese after it had been fired and then fire it again to melt the cheese, adding maybe some lettuce and possibly some finely chopped jambon sec (dry ham).
I’m not much of a baker, but if you have a wood-fired oven and want to give it a shot, here’s a decent-looking recipe.