Living in Western New York I can’t say there are too many French restaurants around. But, I have always been curious about French food and what makes it French.
What makes French food French?
French dishes were once created using influences from surrounding regions including Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Around the 20th century, chefs began creating and honing French cuisine. One of the main aspects of French restaurants is multiple courses (hors d’oeuvre/entree, pat principal/main course, and Fromage/dessert). French cuisine is also largely centered around wine and cheese as well as being representative of the French countryside.
Were French fries originally created in France?
No. In fact, it seems that French fries were actually native to 16th century Belgium where people were said to be frying potatoes.
Popular French recipe to make at home
COQ AU VIN
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces (120g) diced bacon
- 8 chicken pieces (4 drumsticks and 4 thighs), skin on, bone-in
- 2 teaspoons salt (plus more to season)
- 1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to season)
- 1 onion, diced
- 8 oz (250g) carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup brandy (OPTIONAL)
- 350 ml good quality red wine (Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Shiraz)
- 1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces (250g) frozen small whole onions (pearl onions)
- 8 ounces (250g) cremini (brown) mushrooms thickly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook until crispy (about 8 to 10 minutes). Transfer bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
- Pat chicken pieces dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken pieces in batches of two to the leftover bacon grease (skin side down for chicken thighs). Sear for about 5 minutes each side, until the skin is rendered, crispy and browned. Transfer chicken to the plate with the bacon. Set aside.
- Add the onions, carrots, salt, and pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally, until the onions are transparent and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Pour in the Cognac/brandy, wine, and chicken stock; stir to combine. Add the thyme, bacon, chicken, and any juices leftover from the plate into the pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid or foil and transfer to the oven for 20-30, or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle.
- While chicken is in the oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and browned. Set aside.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and place it on the stove. Mash the remaining butter with the flour and stir into the casserole (the heat will cook any lumps out). Add the pearl onions; bring the casserole to a simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
- Season to taste, if desired. Garnish with parsley and any extra thyme leaves, and serve immediately over mashed potatoes.
Another great French recipe is Julia Child’s beef bourguignon. This recipe may seem like a simple beef stew but that is the beauty of French cuisine. Even simple dishes can be made with love and turned into an art form! This recipe can be found at https://cafedelites.com/beef-bourguignon/.