French

Chicken Stew with Onions, Tomatoes, and Dijon

Easy and hearty chicken stew recipe with loads of red onions and tomatoes! Seasoned with Dijon mustard.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

“Stews are your best ally for stress-free dinner parties,” says Clotilde Dusoulier, of her Mustard Chicken Stew in her Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook, and I couldn’t agree more.

They cook happily away while you enjoy the company of your guests, and avoid the stress of food that has to be perfectly timed.

This chicken stew reminded us of a hunter’s chicken, a chicken cacciatore in its ease of preparation, ingredients, and heartiness.

Clotilde’s version has a decidedly French twist, with the seasoning of whole seed Dijon mustard, a bounty of red onion, and roasted garlic as a condiment, a combination that comes together perfectly.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole head garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • One 3-4 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (2 breasts, wings, thighs, legs)
  • 6 medium red onions (about 2 pounds)
  • One 28 to 32 ounce can good quality whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A pinch of chile powder
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons old-fashioned whole seed Dijon mustard (or 1/4 cup regular Dijon mustard)

Ingredients

  • 1 whole head garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • One 3-4 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (2 breasts, wings, thighs, legs)
  • 6 medium red onions (about 2 pounds)
  • One 28 to 32 ounce can good quality whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A pinch of chile powder
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons old-fashioned whole seed Dijon mustard (or 1/4 cup regular Dijon mustard)

Method

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.

2 Roast garlic: Remove the papery outer layers of the garlic bulb, leaving intact the skins of the individual cloves. Cut 1/4 to a 1/2 inch off the tops of cloves, exposing the individual garlic cloves.

Place the head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle some olive oil over the garlic, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

Wrap the head of garlic with the aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the flesh of the cloves are light brown and feel quite soft when pressed. Set aside to cool. (See how to roast garlic.)

3 Brown the chicken pieces: While the garlic is roasting, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (with lid) or Dutch oven, on medium high heat. Rinse the chicken pieces in cold water then pat dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Brown the chicken pieces, starting them skin-side down, cooking them a few minutes on each side, working in batches so that you don’t crowd the pan.

4 Cook onions until soft: While the chicken is browning, peel and quarter the onions. Remove chicken from pan when nicely golden with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Discard any fat and oil beyond about 1 Tbsp left in the pan.

Put the onions in the pot and cook them until softened, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

5 Add tomatoes, herbs, chili powder, chicken, wine, then simmer: Add the tomatoes to the pot, the thyme, bay leaves, and ground chile powder. Put the chicken pieces on top of the tomatoes. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer.

Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes, stirring from time to time so that the vegetables don’t stick.

6 Crush roasted garlic: After the garlic has cooled enough to handle, squeeze out the roasted garlic from the cloves into a small bowl and crush with a fork.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to serve with the chicken stew.

7 Add mustard, thicken sauce: When the chicken has cooked, add the mustard to the pot and stir to blend. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook uncovered for 10 more minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the meat. Remove bay leaves. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve stew over rice or pasta, with the garlic paste on the side.

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Categories: French   Tags: , , ,

Easy Duck Confit

A quick and easy method for making duck confit (2 hours versus 2 days).

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Please welcome guest contributor Hank Shaw of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook as he shares his method for making a quick and easy duck confit. So outrageously good! ~Elise

Duck or goose confit (con-fee) is one of the most luxurious of foods in French cuisine.

Gently cured duck legs bathed in their own fat and slowly cooked to falling-off-the-bone perfection. Then the skin is crisped in a pan or oven, giving you the sinful combination of silky meat and crackling skin.

It’ll roll your eyes back it’s so good.

Real confit takes more than a day to make. But I have a work-around that takes just a little more than two hours, and is nearly as good. And it’s easy – I mean super easy.

Get yourself duck legs. Goose legs work fine, but they are hard to find not already attached to a goose; you can buy duck legs separate from the duck.

You will want at least one per person, but two per person is better. You may have to have your butcher order them. Specialty grocers may have them fresh or frozen.

Ingredients

  • Duck legs (at least one per person)
  • Salt

Ingredients

  • Duck legs (at least one per person)
  • Salt

Method

1 Pat the duck legs dry with paper towels.

2 Prick the skin of the duck all over: Find a needle or a very pointy knife and prick the skin of the duck all over. Focus on the skin that covers fat. Do your best to avoid piercing the meat itself by pricking the skin at an angle over the drumstick and the center of the thigh.

You are doing this to give the fat that lies under the skin a place to seep out. If you don’t do this, it will be far more difficult to get crispy skin.

3 Salt the duck legs and let rest at room temp: Salt your duck legs well, more than you think you ought to, actually. Let them rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. Don’t worry, they’ll be fine.

4 Put the duck legs in a small casserole, skin side up. How small? You want it just big enough to hold the legs. Put a thin sheen of oil or melted duck fat on the bottom of the casserole, then place the duck legs in close together but not overlapping.

5 Slowly heat the duck in the oven: Put the casserole in the oven and heat it to 300°F (150°C); if you have a digital oven, you could even go down to 285°F (140°C). Do not preheat the oven. You want to cook the duck as gently as possible.

Walk away and watch football, go shopping, read a book or something. How long? Every duck has a different level of fat, so I can’t tell you exactly. But it will be at least 90 minutes, and two hours is better. After 90 minutes, check the duck: It should be partly submerged in melted fat and the skin should be getting crispy.

6 Turn up the oven heat to brown the skin: When the skin is starting to look crispy, turn up the heat to 375°F (190°C). Check after 15 minutes. You’re looking for a light golden brown. If you missed some spots with the needle and there are places where the skin won’t crisp that’s OK—better that than burnt skin elsewhere.

7 Let cool and strain the fat: Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before eating. Save the accumulated fat for cooking vegetables, other meats or for keeping your skin shiny. I strain the fat through cheesecloth, but you really only need to do this if you are saving the fat for several weeks or months; strained, it will keep for 6 months tightly covered in the fridge. Well wrapped, the duck meat itself will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

What to do with your lovely duck legs? Why eat them. You can just gnaw on the legs and let the luscious fat dribble down your chin, or pick off the skin and eat it—it is hard to re-crisp it later—and then strip the meat from the bones and use it in a salad, with beans or rice, or in with pasta.

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Rabbit in Mustard Sauce

Classic French rabbit in Dijon mustard sauce, or Lapin à la moutarde.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4

Simply Recipes contributor Hank Shaw and I “met” years ago over a comment he made about rabbit on Michael Ruhlman’s blog. I hounded him for a rabbit recipe back then so I’m delighted that he is sharing this French classic with us now, Lapin à la moutarde, or Rabbit in Mustard Sauce. ~Elise

This is a French country classic, and there are endless variations. All are good.

Some recipes bake the rabbit, others braise it, as I do. The keys are mustard—good grainy mustard, not the bright yellow stuff you get at the ballpark—shallots, and something creamy. I use heavy cream, but some people use crème fraiche, others sour cream.

Rabbit has a mild flavor that is all its own. Think chicken breast, but with a slightly different flavor. It is one of my favorites, although I mostly use wild cottontail rabbits.

Domestic rabbit is readily available frozen in good supermarkets, and any decent butcher can get you some. And yes, if you are skeeved out by rabbit, use chicken instead. But rabbit is better.

Rabbits usually come whole, and if you don’t know how to break them down yourself, ask the supermarket butcher to do it for you. This gets a little harder with frozen rabbits, so I’ve posted step-by step instructions on breaking down a rabbit here.

More Great Rabbit Recipes

  • Rabbit Cacciatore
  • Rabbit Stew with Mushrooms
  • Rabbit Braised in Belgian Ale
  • Braised Rabbit with Prunes

You will probably get the kidneys with your rabbit. It is your choice whether to keep them or not. I always do, and I think they are the second-best part of the animal after the hind legs. Rabbit kidneys are mild in flavor and are a warm, soft, rabbity morsel in this dish. If you choose to use them, strip off all the fat, as well as the gossamer membrane that surrounds them.

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit, cut into serving pieces (see How to cut up a rabbit)
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup grainy country mustard, like Dijon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Method

1 Sprinkle rabbit pieces with salt: Salt your rabbit pieces well and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.

2 Brown the rabbit pieces in butter: Heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan with a lid. Pat the rabbit pieces dry and brown them in the butter. Do this at a moderate pace – you don’t want the butter to scorch – and don’t let the rabbit pieces touch each other. Do it in batches if you need to.

Once the rabbit is browned, remove it to a bowl.

3 Brown the chopped shallots: Add the shallots and brown them well. This will take 3-4 minutes.

4 Make the sauce: Pour in the white wine and turn the heat to high. Scrape off any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the mustard, thyme and water and bring to a rolling boil. Taste the sauce for salt and add some if needed.

5 Coat rabbit with sauce, cover and simmer: Add the rabbit pieces, coat them with the sauce, then drop the heat to low. Cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes. You want the meat to be nearly falling off the bone. It might need more time, but should not need more than an hour total. Wild rabbits sometimes need more time.

6 When the meat is ready, gently remove it to a platter.

7 Reduce the sauce, add cream and parsley: Turn the heat to high and boil the sauce down by half. Turn off the heat and add the cream and parsley. Stir the sauce to combine.

8 Serve:  Return the rabbit to the pan. Coat with the sauce and serve at once.

Serve this dish with crusty bread and a big white wine, such as a white Bordeaux, white Cotes du Rhone blend or a buttery California Chardonnay. If you prefer beer, try pairing this with an unfiltered wheat beer.

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French Green Beans with Butter and Herbs

Fresh haricot verts, skinny green beans boiled, drained, then sautéed in butter with onions, tarragon, thyme, parsley, and chives.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ever see those skinny little green beans in the market?

They’re a French variety of green bean, also known as haricot vert, or filet beans. Haricot verts are more delicate than regular green beans and cook up more quickly.

This is a simple recipe in which you blanch the beans first, and then sauté them quickly in a little butter with onions and fresh garden herbs.

If you can’t find haricot verts, you can use regular fresh green beans, just boil them a little longer.

Do you have a method of preparing haricot verts? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Use fresh herbs if available. If not, you can used dried, but use a quarter as much.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thin green beans (haricot vert), trimmed
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped fine
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp tarragon or basil, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp chives, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges

Method

1 Blanch the green beans: Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Boil the beans for 2 minutes.

Plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain the beans and pat dry on a cloth or paper towel.

2 Sauté onions: Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Cook the onions until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

3 Add green beans: Add the green beans and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

4 Add seasonings: Add all the herbs and some salt and pepper and toss to combine. Cook for 1 minute more.

Serve hot or at room temperature, with lemon wedges.

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Chicken Liver Pâté

Easy chicken liver pâté with shallots, garlic, brandy, capers and thyme, blended smooth to spread on bread or crackers.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 16 as an appetizer

Chicken liver pâté—looks atrocious, tastes great!

In fact, this is one of those instances where you pity the fool who refuses to eat something because it doesn’t look appetizing. And then you’re secretly happy because that means there’s more for you.

Chicken liver pâté is perfect for spreading over crackers or toasted thin baguette slices. And unlike so many of the pâtés we make that require a weighted terrine in a water bath, this one is easy to make and takes hardly any time.

You just trim the chicken livers of their connective tissue, sauté them in butter with shallots, garlic, and capers, add a little brandy, and then purée with cream and a little more butter. It’s best serve chilled, and because of its richness, a little goes a long way.

If you want, you can soak the chicken livers in milk for an hour or so before proceeding with the recipe. Soaking the livers in milk will take a bit of the edge off the liver and make them taste more mild. This recipe makes a lot. You can easily halve (or double).

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup minced shallot
  • 1 pound chicken livers
  • Salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup cream

Method

1 Trim connective tissue and fat: Trim any fat or connective tissue from the livers and discard.

2 Brown the butter: Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat and let the butter brown, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let it burn.

3 Sauté shallots and livers: Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the livers. Be sure to space them well in the pan so they can brown more easily. Sprinkle salt over the livers. Flip the livers when one side browns, about 2 minutes.

4 Add capers, thyme, garlic, anchovy paste: Once the livers have browned, add the capers, thyme, garlic, and anchovy paste if using, and sauté another minute.

5 Deglaze with brandy: Take the pan off the heat and add the brandy. (Be careful when you return it to the heat, as it could flame up, especially if you are using a gas range. If it does, cover the pan for a moment.) Increase the heat to high and let the brandy boil and reduce to the consistency of syrup, about 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool.

6 Pulse in food processor, add butter, cream: Put the mixture into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times to combine. Add the remaining butter and the cream and purée. The mixture will look a little loose, but it will firm up in the fridge.

7 Place into ramekins and chill: Pack the pâté into ramekins or a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

The pâté will last a week or so in the fridge. If you want to preserve it for up to a month, pour a little melted lard or clarified putter on top to seal. Each time you dip into the pâté, you will need to reseal the top to preserve it.

Serve spread on crackers or baguette slices.

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Categories: French   Tags: , , ,

Mussels in White Wine Sauce

A traditional French dish, mussels mariniere, or moules mariniere. Mussels steamed in white wine, served in sauce of juices from the mussels, wine, butter, and shallots.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer or side dish

My sweetheart Guy (that’s pronounced “Gee” with a hard “g”) grew up in Southern France, in Provence, near the sea. And like so many people from Provence, Guy has a passion for all things seafood, especially mussels, or as the French call them, “moules”.

Mussels steamed in white wine and served in a sauce made from the cooking liquid with butter and shallots is a classic French preparation of mussels, moules mariniere.

This is Guy’s method for moules mariniere, the way he grew up making it in France, and one of the easiest and loveliest ways of preparing mussels. It is wonderful for an appetizer or a light lunch, and excellent with a glass of white wine and some crusty bread.

When purchasing mussels be sure they smell like the ocean, not fishy.

Don’t buy any whose shells are cracked or open or any that refuse to close their shells when you handle or tap them, those are likely dying or dead.

Try to cook the mussels immediately (unwrap them as soon as you get home), but if you have to wait place them in a bowl and cover them with a damp towel so they can breathe.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed clean under running water
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons flour (optional, omit for gluten-free version)
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley

Method

1 Clean and prep mussels: Put the mussels in a bowl of salted water (1 Tbsp salt per quart of water) for 10-15 minutes. Throw out any that are wide open or refuse to close when you handle them as these ones are likely dead.

Looking over the closed mussels, see if any still have their beards (long hairy byssal threads which help anchor the mussel to surfaces) and pull them out, pulling slowly and strongly towards the hinge of the shell.

2 Put wine, mussels in bottom of large pot, steam until mussels open: Put 1/2 cup of dry white wine in the bottom of a large pot (at least 4-quart). Add the mussels to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. As the mussels cook, they will release their highly flavored water into the pot.

Cook until shells have opened, and the mussels are just cooked, looking steamed and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Take care not to overcook, or the mussels will be rubbery and hard.

3 Remove cooked mussels, save the cooking liquid: Once the mussels are cooked, carefully remove them from the pot to a bowl, one-by-one using tongs, including those that have broken loose from their shells. Do not discard the liquid in the pot!

Let the water in the pot settle for a minute. Any grit will settle to the bottom. Gently pour out the cooking water into a measuring cup, leaving the grit in the pot to discard of later. If the water you’ve measured out is still a little gritty, filter out the grit using a sieve.

4 Sauté shallots and garlic in butter, add flour: Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the shallots and cook a couple minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. If you want your sauce to be a little thick, add a teaspoon or two of flour to the pan, stir to combine. (Otherwise skip the flour.)

5 Add mussel cooking water to create sauce: Slowly add about a cup of the filtered mussel cooking water to the saucepan, stirring to create a smooth sauce. Add the minced parsley to the sauce.

6 Pour sauce over mussels to serve: Place mussels in serving bowls. Pour some sauce over each bowl of mussels.

Serve immediately. Serve with crusty bread for dipping in the sauce.

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Leeks Vinaigrette

A French classic, whole leeks are boiled, drained, then marinated in a Dijon vinaigrette.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ah the noble leek, often the bridesmaid, rarely the bride. Leeks vinaigrette is a classic French recipe that honors the leek for itself.

In this recipe we first clean and prep the leeks, then boil them in water until just cooked, drain them, and marinate them for several hours (or days) in a vinaigrette with a touch of Dijon mustard.

Served at room temperature, the leeks make a lovely salad or side. And given that they love a long marinating time, they’re perfect for making ahead. 

This recipe comes from my Frenchman Guy (that’s “Gee” with a hard “g”) who grew up eating “poireaux vinaigrette” in France. He made it for my mother’s 78th birthday last week, which we served as a first course to a lasagna bolognese (so good!).

He also roasted up some red bell peppers and served them with the leeks, which were lovely together.

Funny thing about the leek greens. Recipes almost always say, “use the white and pale green parts only,” but the green tops are full of flavor.

We often use green onion greens in recipes. Using more of the dark green tops of leeks is similar.

They are a little tougher than the white and pale green parts, but if you are boiling them as in this method, they should tenderize fine with the cooking.

Choose leeks that are about an inch thick and have a long, white and pale green shaft.

Ingredients

  • 6 long leeks (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Method

1 Heat a pot of water, clean the leeks: Bring a large, wide (12 inches) pot, half-full of salted water (2 teaspoons of salt for 2 quarts of water) to a boil. While the water is heating, clean the leeks, keeping them whole.

To do this, first rinse off any visible dirt from the leeks. Then, use the tip of a sharp knife to pierce the leek just a little bit below the point where the leek’s shaft opens up into separate leaves.

Cut the leek from this point all the way out to the tip of the green leaves, keeping the shaft whole.

Open up the leaves, and place the leek under running water to clean out any dirt or sand that may be hiding between the leaves.

Cut off the dark green tops, leaving about an inch or two (or three if you like the more strongly flavored greens) on the shaft.

Cut off the roots, cutting as close to the roots as possible, to help keep the leek together while it simmers in the next step. (For a visual step-by-step, see How to Clean Leeks.)

2 Simmer the leeks in salted water: Once the water is boiling, carefully place the cleaned and prepped leeks into the water.

Return to a simmer and lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Start a timer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thickest leek can easily be penetrated with the tip of a sharp knife.

If your leeks are about an inch thick, they should just begin to be turning from bright green to olive-y green at the 8 minute mark. Thicker leeks you’ll want to cook a little longer.

3 Place cooked leeks in ice water bath: Use tongs to gently remove the leeks from the pot and place into an ice water bath to stop the cooking.

4 Let the leeks drain: Remove the leeks from the ice water bath and let them drain. The best way to let them drain is to place them in a rimmed roasting pan and then propping up the pan at an angle so the water can run out of the leeks.

Let them drain for 10 minutes or so while you make the vinaigrette.

5 Make the vinaigrette: Place the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, in a jar and whisk until well emulsified.

6 Marinate the leeks in the vinaigrette: Place the leeks in a rimmed, long serving dish (a Pyrex casserole dish would work for this as well). Drizzle some vinaigrette over the leeks. Gently turn the leeks over and drizzle a bit more vinaigrette on the other side.

Cover with plastic wrap and let the leeks marinate in the vinaigrette for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. (Chill if marinating more than 2 hours.

The longer they marinate, the tastier and more tender they become.)

The leeks should be served at room  temperature.

Alternative serving suggestion: cut the marinated leeks crosswise into 1-inch long segments and serve with strips of roasted red bell peppers that have been marinating in the same vinaigrette.

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Cauliflower Gratin

Cheesy cauliflower gratin with nutty Gruyere cheese, sautéed leeks, and butter toasted breadcrumb topping!

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6

Cauliflower gratin. How to transform the simplest of vegetables into a creamy cheesy rock star side dish? Cook it into a gratin.

I love cauliflower. I love it raw as a crunchy healthy snack. I love it roasted with crispy browned edges. I love it in a cheddary soup. Or puréed into fake mashed potatoes. Cauliflower has to be one of the world’s most adaptable and dress-up-able vegetables.

No where is cauliflower’s haute capabilities more clear than in a gratin. Honestly it’s hard to go wrong given that we are smothering lightly steamed cauliflower in a cheesy Gruyere and leek béchamel, and baking it topped with butter toasted fresh breadcrumbs.

It’s as if the vegetable wanted to remind us of what she is capable of.

A worthy side to glazed ham, roast beef, brisket, or roast chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored, broken into bite-sized florets (see How to Cut and Core Cauliflower)
  • 2 medium-small leeks, cleaned, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-in thick slices, white and light green parts only, about 2 cups
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper

Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (3 slices of sandwich bread or rustic bread, pulsed in a food processor)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored, broken into bite-sized florets (see How to Cut and Core Cauliflower)
  • 2 medium-small leeks, cleaned, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-in thick slices, white and light green parts only, about 2 cups
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper

Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (3 slices of sandwich bread or rustic bread, pulsed in a food processor)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper

Method

1 Cook the leeks: Melt butter on medium heat in a medium sized saucepan. Add the sliced leeks and gently cook until completely softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

2 Lightly steam the cauliflower: While the leeks are cooking, place cauliflower florets in a steamer basket in a saucepan over an inch of water. Bring water to a boil, cover, and steam the cauliflower for 3 to 4 minutes.

The steaming should just take the rawness out of the cauliflower, but not cook it so much that it is tender. You want the cauliflower at this stage to be al dente. Remove strainer and cauliflower from hot pan and set aside.

3 Make roux with butter, leeks, flour, add milk: Add 2 Tbsp of flour to the leeks and butter. Stir and let cook for a minute or two. Slowly add the milk, stirring as you add it to break up any lumps. Bring to a low simmer and continue to stir as the sauce thickens.

4 Stir in cheese, thyme, nutmeg, salt: Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stir in 3 ounces of the shredded cheese (reserving the rest of the cheese for the topping), the thyme, nutmeg, and salt.

5 Preheat oven to 400°F.

6 Pour sauce over cauliflower in gratin dish: Spread a teaspoon of butter over the insides of a 2-quart gratin dish. Place the lightly steamed cauliflower florets in an even layer in the dish. Pour the leek and cheese sauce over the cauliflower. Top with remaining cheese.

7 Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes.

8 Toast breadcrumbs: While the gratin is baking, melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a small sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the fresh breadcrumbs and toast in the melted butter for 4 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a sprinkling of pepper. Remove from heat.

9 Top gratin with toasted breadcrumbs and bake: After the gratin has baked for 25 minutes, remove it from the oven. Sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs over the top and return to the oven. Bake for 5 more minutes.

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Fingerling Potatoes with Herb Vinaigrette

Boiled fingerling potatoes tossed with vermouth, red onions, parsley, and an herb vinaigrette.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Why should russets and yukon golds have all the fun? Here’s a quick and easy potato recipe, for a side or salad, depending on if you serve them warm or cold, using fingerling potatoes or new potatoes.

The approach is simple—quickly boil halved fingerling potatoes and douse them in vinaigrette.

But that’s not all. Two simple tricks will elevate this dish to make it company worthy.

First, soak thinly sliced red onions in the vinaigrette while the potatoes are cooking. The vinaigrette will “pickle” the onions, taking away some of their oniony edge.

Fingerling potatoes

Second, sprinkle the potatoes with dry vermouth as soon as they are done cooking, so the potatoes soak up the wonderful flavor of the vermouth. This is an idea I picked up from Cooks Illustrated years ago and it adds great flavor to the potatoes.

You can of course, skip the vermouth if you want. But if you have it, use it!

These potatoes can be served warm, room temp, or cold. Chilled, they are perfect for hot summer days.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, or small new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, or small new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Method

1 Cook the potatoes: Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by about an inch. Bring to a boil and add a teaspoon of salt to the water. Lower the heat to a simmer and let simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 6-8 minutes.

2 Make the vinaigrette: While potatoes are cooking, prepare the herb vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, thyme, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

3 Add red onions to vinaigrette: Place the sliced red onions in the bowl with the vinaigrette. This will quickly “pickle” the red onion slices.

4 Sprinkle strained potatoes with vermouth: Strain potatoes from the water and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle on the vermouth and toss to coat. Let the potatoes sit for one minute to soak up the vermouth.

5 Toss with onions, parsley and vinaigrette: Gently toss the potatoes with the onions, parsley, and the herb vinaigrette. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve slightly warm, room temperature, or chilled.

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