Missed your trip to France or just missing the country we all love? With the rise of quarantine cuisine, we thought we would bring you the top 10 french dishes you can make at home and pretend you’re in a French bistro. Just click on the name of the dish to be directed to the recipe and enjoy.
Soupe à l’oignon
This is traditionally a peasant soup made of onions and beef stock, usually served with croutons and melted cheese on top. Dating back to Roman times, the soup’s unique flavor comes from the caramelization of the onions, with a splash of brandy or sherry added during the slow-cooking process. Most bistros have it on the menu and the best spots to enjoy a bowl are close to Les Halles where working men used to gather at all times of the day and night after delivering the daily produce.
It doesn’t get more typically French than boeuf bourguignon. The dish hails from Burgundy and it is essentially a stew made from beef braised in red wine, broth, and seasoned vegetables including pearl onions and mushrooms. Also a typical peasant dish, this recipe has now been elevated and served in most French restaurants around the world. Traditionally, the cheapest cuts of meat would be tenderized in wine for two days prior to cooking to intensify the flavors, although nowadays we have pressure cookers to speed the process up.
The word soufflé comes from the French verb ‘to blow’ which refers to this lightness of the dish. The treat dates back to the early 18th century and is a staple on French dessert menus around the world. The crispy crust is the perfect shell for the creamy goodness that oozes out of the center. But, it doesn’t have to be sweet. Cheese soufflés are just as delicious if you’re looking for something on the saltier side or just want to try something new. Typically you order this at the beginning of the meal to permit them to time it correctly since it is baked to order.
Not just a lovable Disney Character, Ratatouille is also one of France’s most iconic dishes. Originally from Provence, the dish is all vegetables, shallow-fried and then layered in a casserole dish before being baked in an oven. French chefs have been debating whether the vegetables need cooking beforehand for centuries, but however you prepare it, it is a crowd pleaser for more than the vegetarians in your life. This peasant dish (see a pattern?) can be a side dish, appetizer, or a main course, and tastes great with red wine and fresh, crusty bread.
The Quiche Lorraine is, according to the Alsatian tradition, a tart or pie, topped with a mixture of cream, milk, eggs, nutmeg, and grilled ham. These ingredients give a slight smoky flavor which is much appreciated in all regions of France and the world. Today, it has become so popular that you can find it in any bakery or bistro. Although I prefer it hot, you can easily enjoy a cold slice anytime. Most Boulangeries will heat you up a slice if yours like mine. Eggs are not just breakfast food in France, so live it up!
The translation literally means, “rooster in wine.” The rooster is the symbol of France. According to the legend, the recipe dates back from the Gergovia battle and the victory over Julius Caesar. It is a variation of the famous boeuf bourguignon – cooked with rooster marinated in red wine and bacon and mushrooms. Both dishes are equally good especially with a nice baguette and the obligatory wine.
The small meringue-based almond cakes are filled with a ganache, buttercream or jam filling. They began appearing in France during medieval times. They were imported from Italy during the 16th century by Catherine de Médicis. Different versions exist in many countries and, due to their popularity, they can even be mail ordered from famous French boutiques. Each country has its own version, so yours too can be unique though the traditional flavors include both raspberry and chocolate.
We find steak and fries in most other countries but there is something special about having it in France. It is an enjoyable dish for its sheer simplicity. It is always a safe bet for the leary traveler trying to understand a menu in a different language. It’s so much of a big deal, we even have a restaurant that only serves this dish and no others. There isn’t even a menu, you only order the temperature you desire. Just remember that medium rare will come out as medium in France due to the different taste they have for their cooking.
Most brasseries and cafés in Paris offer non-stop service, meaning they don’t close between meals. A staple of their menu is the Croque-Monsieur, an oozy and crisp grilled ham and cheese sandwich usually covered by a béchamel sauce and lightly fried with yet more cheesy goodness. If you want an extra treat, get the Croque-Madame, which adds a fried egg on top. How can that be bad?
All around Paris, you’ll see street stands selling crêpes. It’s the original street food. The crêpe is a treat to indulge in when it’s time for an afternoon snack. Be sure to pick a stand that cooks crêpes to order rather than reheating them from a pile cooked earlier. Though you may be tempted to try all kinds of filling, locals choose the beurre-sucre (butter and sugar). Breton crepes are considered the best in France. They usually are called galettes. It is a savory crepe made with buckwheat flour in contrast to the sweet crepe batter which is lighter wheat and pale in color. The traditional galette fillings are ham, cheese, and eggs the best creperies of Paris can be found near Tour Montparnasse.
Next time you’re in France, I am sure you’ll want to try some of these French staples. We can happily end any tour at a good local restaurant that has your desired dish to enjoy. Though you may be confined you don’t have to give up on vacation plans, #postponedontcancel and in the meantime enjoy a little bit of France in your own home. Stay healthy and hope to see you in this gastronomic heaven.