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When Steeve Rayé moved to Perpignan, France, to learn pastry from Olivier Bajard-one of the world’s best pâtissiers-he didn’t expect to shed tears. “Bajard was crazy! He is the best, but his demands were so high.” Settling back in Vancouver after stints in Belgium and London (at the two-Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon), Rayé opened an eponymous pâtisserie in Kitsilano. The neighbourhood didn’t take to the traditional pastry shop, and so last March he re-opened it as Café Régalade, a satellite of the Rayé family institution, West Van’s La Régalade. It’s been going gangbusters ever since, offering well-priced bistro classics and a popular weekend brunch. Our favourite is the one-Tuesday-a-month special: cochon de lait.
How to Buy
“A good suckling pig shouldn’t be too heavy, 10 to 20 pounds max. You want it as small as possible.” The flesh should be pale, similar to veal (which indicates the pig was fed only its mothers milk). And although the meat is incredibly tender, the fat content should be low (meaning the pig never fed on grain). Whole pigs need to be ordered in advance, and butchers like Columbus Meat Market (1655 Renfrew St., 604-253-2242) and Cioffi’s (4142 E. Hastings St., 604-291-9373) are happy to oblige.
How to cook
Cooking a pig can be tricky business. Instead of roasting the animal whole, Rayé suggests deboning it (better yet, ask your butcher) to create an even surface area. “I make a stuffing with ground pork, shallot, garlic, thyme, rosemary, brandy, and white wine. It’s so versatile, you can use it to stuff anything, even to make sausage.” The pig is laid on top of the stuffing and roasted for three hours at 320° F. The skin is brushed with canola oil halfway through cooking to produce the perfect crackling. Rayé boils down the head and bones to make a rich stock, the basis for the sauce, and serves it with buttery pommes purées. Truly hedonistic.
Try Chef Rayé’s original RECIPE for PORK SAUSAGE STUFFING
WATCH A VIDEO of Steeve Rayé making Cochon de Lait.