For my money, the very best classic steak sauce you can make at home, a sauce that will wow your guests with its flavor and elegance, and—most importantly—a sauce that can be made start to finish in under half an hour, is béarnaise. The catch (there's always a catch) is that made with the classic technique, it's very easy to mess up. Here is a foolproof technique that uses hot butter and a hand blender for perfect results every time.
'French' on Serious Eats
This recipe and technique uses powdered gelatin as the secret ingredient for perfect restaurant-quality pan-seared chicken and pan sauce flavored with white wine, shallots, and fresh herbs.
Soubise, an old-school French sauce classically made by pureeing softened onions with bechamel, is a great pairing for all sorts of roasted meats, like the roast chicken here. In this more modern version, it's simplified and lightened by using cream in place of the bechamel, then flavored with curry powder or vadouvan, a French variation on curry powder with garlic and shallots.
It looks like a pizza, it cooks like a pizza, but don't make the mistake of actually thinking it's a pizza. Tarte flambée, the Alsatian flatbread topped with fromage blanc (a fresh, tart, spreadable cheese), thinly sliced raw onions and bacon, is as Franco-Germanic in flavor as can be. This method delivers a bar-style tart, cooked on a flour tortilla in a cast iron skillet, then browned under the broiler. It has a thin, cracker-like crust that is irresistible.
It looks like a pizza, it cooks like a pizza, but don't make the mistake of actually thinking it's a pizza. Tarte flambée, the Alsatian flatbread topped with fromage blanc (a fresh, tart, spreadable cheese), thinly sliced raw onions and bacon, is as Franco-Germanic in flavor as can be. This method delivers a classic tart, made on pizza dough rolled very thinly and cooked on a blazing hot Baking Steel or pizza stone right under the broiler.
Want to impress your dinner date? Whip up a couple of French Melts. That's a big ol' pile of sweet, caramelized onions (see here for an easy technique to speed up the process) melted with a fat slab of Comté cheese. It's like French onion soup in an easy-to-pick-up, extra-buttery package. Set the table cloth and pull out the fine china, dear, tonight I'm wearing pants to the table!
A lot of coq au vin recipes have you braise the bird for hours. That's fine when you're doing it the traditional way with a tough old rooster, but it doesn't work well for the tender roasting hens most of us use today. This recipe delivers a rich and deeply braise with red wine, mushrooms, lardons, and onions that tastes like it was in the oven all day, except that it wasn't.
I've gone on record as saying that mussels are the easiest choose-your-own-adventure one-pot meal around, and I intend to prove it to you. This version uses my standard steamed mussel technique and combines it with the classic flavors of a French bouillabaisse. Fennel, saffron, and tomatoes are cooked together with a little pastis and orange zest to form an aromatic, briny broth for dipping bread into.
A pot of classic French Moules Marinières is fast food at its best. Made with fresh, inexpensive ingredients that still seem celebratory, this dish comes together in around 15 minutes from start to finish. Make sure to serve it with the rest of the wine left in the bottle and with plenty of toasted bread for dipping into the garlicky, briny broth.
The first time I had cassoulet in its home turf it was a revelation. This loose, almost soup-like stew of beans and meat was so far removed from all versions of cassoulet I'd had in the United States, or even in other parts of France. It was a large, bubbling vat of beans and meat, covered in a crust so dark that it was almost black. Rich, meaty, and overwhelmingly simple, the main flavor was just that of the cured meat, a good stock, and beans.
If you only know endive as a crunchy, leafy, bitter green, then you've been missing out. Roasted, grilled, or sautéed, the wide-leafed vegetable loses much of its trademark bitterness, allowing its sweet, faintly earthy character to emerge at full force. Here, it's combined with shallots and goat cheese for a rich, buttery quiche-like tart.
For this recipe from Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, chef Jody Williams was inspired by Thomas Keller's well-loved salmon rillettes, which she learned to make during her time under him at his by-gone West Village restaurant, Rakel. With fresh and smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and horseradish, it's a rich, creamy, punchy dish that disappears quick.
This vegetable soup from Jody Williams' cookbook, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, is impeccable—clean, light, and nourishing. Topped with a spoonful of heady pistou, it's the epitome of the harmony that can happen with a thoughtful collision of fresh ingredients.
When fruit is at its peak, it's best served simply; something that Paris Pastry Club author Fanny Zanotti knows well. This recipe for mead-baked peaches comes from a childhood memory of picking peaches in an orchard, and having them prepared just this way for dessert. The tangy yogurt is a lovely counterpoint to the soft, yielding flesh of the peaches. Crunchy honeycomb candy echoes the notes of honey in the mead, and provides a pleasant crunch.
Imagine waking up, head throbbing, room spinning, stomach growling. Too. Much. Wine. Waiting in the kitchen, left by some benevolent fantasy akin to the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, is a pan steaming with silky, slightly caramelized peppers and onions, crumbles of spicy chorizo, and golden, life-giving eggs. This is Jody Williams' Piperade from her book, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food.
As Paris Pastry Club author Fanny Zanotti herself remarks, there's not much to say about crème brûlée that hasn't already been said. Its mild, creamy sweetness is a true delight; it's rare to find a person who doesn't like it. The recipe simple, but this preparation remains unique: a single serving of crème brûlée, served in its very own ramekin.
Loaded with intensely flavored mushroom duxelles, a flood of Mornay sauce, and crispy fried shallots, this French-inspired burger is sexy enough to make Escoffier blush.
Salmon and lentils is to France what peas and carrots is to the States: an absolutely classic pairing. In this simple, satisfying one-pot dinner that plays off the famous couple, crispy salmon is served in a broth of lentils flavored with caramelized shallots and mustard.