The 20 best French recipes: part 1 (2024)

Daniel Boulud’s coq au vin

Makes 8 servings
chicken legs 8
onion 1 medium, sliced
carrot 1 medium, sliced
celery stalks 2, sliced
garlic 2 heads, sliced in half
sachet 8 sprigs thyme, 1 fresh bay leaf, 2 tsp coriander seed, 1 tsp cracked white pepper tied up in a piece of cheesecloth with butcher’s twine
bacon 450g slab, cut into ⅔cm slices
pearl onions 1kg
small button mushrooms 1kg, cleaned and trimmed
dry red wine 750ml
ruby port wine 375ml
salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil 60ml
plain flour 30g
chicken stock 475ml
veal or beef stock 475ml

You will need extra cheesecloth and butcher’s twine.

The day before cooking, separate the chicken legs into drumsticks and thighs. Place in a large bowl or container with the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sachet. Cook the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until just crispy. Wrap the bacon, pearl onions, and mushrooms into three separate cheesecloth bundles and secure with butchers twine; add to the chicken. Cover all ingredients with the red wine and port and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Strain the liquid from the marinated ingredients into a large pot and bring to a simmer; reduce by half. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven (or cast iron casserole) over medium high heat. Sear the chicken on all sides until browned. Remove the chicken, and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sachet. Cook, stirring occasionally, on medium heat until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for another 4 minutes.

Add the reduced marinade, chicken, bundles of mushroom, pearl onion and bacon, and chicken stock and veal stock. Bring to a simmer, cover with a round of parchment paper and transfer to the oven. Braise for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the chicken is tender.

Strain the chicken and vegetables from the sauce, discarding the sliced carrot, onion and celery. Take the bacon, pearl onion and mushroom out of their bundles. If the sauce seems too thin, return to the heat and reduce until desired consistency (it should coat the back of a spoon). Incorporate all the ingredients back together and serve hot.

Note: this dish is great served with fresh pasta or rice. It can be kept, chilled, for up to 4 days.
Daniel Boulud is chef-proprietor of Daniel in Manhattan and Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Hélène Darroze’s tarragon chicken

The 20 best French recipes: part 1 (1)

Chicken is comfort food to me, it smells of home, of family, and can be enjoyed any time of the year. It is one of the most satisfying meals I know. This tarragon chicken was inspired by my grandmother’s recipe, tarragon being one of my favourite ingredients. Another thing I love about this dish is how versatile it is and can be adapted with the seasons. For example, over the summer, I use girolles mushrooms instead of morels.

Serves 4
olive oil 30ml
salt and pepper
free-range chicken 1, jointed into six pieces
baby white onions 12
smoked bacon 160g, diced
mushrooms 16, ideally morels
white wine 200ml
chicken stock 900ml
double cream 180g
thyme leaves 1 tbsp
creme fraiche 100g
tarragon ½ a bunch, finely chopped

In a large ovenproof pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Season the chicken and cook, skin-side down, until golden. Set aside. Add the onions and bacon and cook slowly until lightly golden. Set aside. Brown the mushrooms and set aside.

Drain most of the fat from the pan. Pour in the wine and reduce by half. Add the stock and reduce by half again. Add the cream and bring back to a simmer.

Add the thighs and drumsticks and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the bacon, onions, mushrooms and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken breasts. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Remove the breasts and legs and keep warm.

Add the creme fraiche to the sauce. Simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Check the seasoning and return the chicken to the sauce with the tarragon. Serve with rice.
Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

Richard Olney’s scalloped potatoes

The 20 best French recipes: part 1 (2)

A quarrel rages in France as to what may be the true gratin dauphinois. Egg and cheese are included in the recipes from old cookbooks (too far removed from the sources, according to the purists). Nearly every reputed restaurant has its celebrated gratin dauphinois and each is willing to divulge its recipe, usually incomprehensible and conceived in the interest of mystification (I have eaten potatoes boiled in milk and dryly reheated days later under a salamander in a restaurant whose publicly presented recipe pretends that they should be poached in milk, the milk discarded, covered with cream, and gratineed in the oven). When one gets rid of the nonsense, there is nothing very mysterious about this dish, which suddenly becomes one of the masterpieces of la grande cuisine.

The quality of the dish depends on a number of different things (but not only one quality is the right one): the thinness of the potato slices as well as their breadth; the proportions of the dish in which they are cooked; the proportion of milk to cream; the heat at which they are cooked … Thickly sliced potatoes piled thickly into a deep dish, moistened only with milk, and cooked in a slow oven for 2 hours are neither less authentically gratin dauphinois nor less good (although a totally other experience) than paper-thin slices spread thinly in a wide and shallow dish, richly endowed with cream and baked in a hot oven for less than half the time ... The most important factor remains the quality of the potato and it should not be mealy.

Serves 4
garlic 2 cloves
potatoes 750g, sliced thinly lengthwise on a mandoline
double cream

Earthenware will take the garlic better than other materials. Rub a large gratin dish with garlic (or, which is easier and more effective, put the peeled cloves through a garlic press, rubbing the puree and juices all over the sides and bottom of the dish and discarding any solid debris that remains), leave for a few minutes until the garlic juice has completely dried and is no longer tacky to the touch, butter the dish liberally, and pack in the potatoes in lightly salted layers. Pour over enough milk to just cover the potatoes, bring the liquid to a boil on top of the stove (using a heat diffuser to protect earthenware from the direct flame), spread a thin layer of cream over the surface, distribute thin shavings of butter, and bake in a 190C/gas mark 5 oven for about an hour, or until the liquid has been nearly completely absorbed, the potatoes give no resistance to a knife point, and a richly coloured skin has formed on the surface.
From Simple French Food (Grub Street, £14.99). To order a copy for £12.74, go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.

David Tanis’s braised lettuce and sweet peas

The 20 best French recipes: part 1 (3)

If your great-great-grandmother was French or British, she would have known how to braise lettuce. Although braised lettuce was once a rather common dish, it’s rarely seen in the 21st century. To me, the concept still has great appeal, but it’s best when the lettuce is cooked just until tender. Add sweet peas if you are making this in the spring or summer; otherwise, skip them and just add the herbs. Any kind of sturdy head will work for this dish: little gem or romaine lettuce is a good choice.

Serves 4-6
little gem lettuces 6, or 2 small heads romaine
butter 2 tbsp
onion 1 medium, diced
salt and pepper
chopped ham 50g
shelled peas 150g
chicken stock or water 110ml
parsley 1 tbsp, chopped
mint 1 tbsp, chopped

If using little gem lettuces, trim the bottoms and discard the tough outer leaves. Cut lengthwise in half, rinse briefly, and drain. If using romaine, cut the heads into quarters.

In a wide large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ham, peas and broth, and bring to a simmer. Add the lettuces in one layer and sprinkle lightly with salt. Put on the lid and let steam for about 5 minutes, until the lettuce is tender.

Stir in the chopped parsley and mint.
From One Good Dish by David Tanis (Workman Publishing, £17.99). To order a copy for £14.75, go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.

Claudia Roden’s salade nicoise

The 20 best French recipes: part 1 (4)

Catherine-Hélène Barale, who runs a restaurant in Nice of the same name, is a formidable elderly woman who fiercely upholds Niçois cookery traditions. According to her, the true salade niçoise never contains potatoes or any other boiled vegetable. Here, then, is the “real thing”, made with raw vegetables only and including plenty of tomatoes.

Serves 6
tomatoes 10 medium-sized, cut in quarters
garlic 1 clove
cucumber 1 large, peeled and thinly sliced
very young broad beans or baby artichokes 200g, thinly sliced (optional)
green peppers 2, thinly sliced
spring onions 6, thinly sliced
anchovy fillets 12, cut into pieces
tuna 250g tin, flaked
black olives 125g
hard-boiled eggs 3, shelled and thinly sliced

For the dressing
olive oil 90ml
red wine vinegar 2 tbsp
basil leaves 6, finely chopped (optional)
salt and pepper

Sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with salt and let their juices drain. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the inside of a bowl or a large serving dish. Arrange all the ingredients decoratively in the dish. Combine the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad, then serve.
From Mediterranean Cookery by Claudia Roden

The 20 best French recipes: part 1 (2024)


What is the most popular meal for the French? ›

Boeuf Bourguignon – Most Famous Food in France

Boeuf Bourguignon is a French stew made with beef braised in beef stock and red wine, naturally from the Burgundy region. Carrots, garlic, onions and a bouquet garni (fresh herbs tied together) are cooked slowly resulting in a hearty beef stew.

What are 5 famous French dishes? ›

Top 5 foods in France
  • Cassoulet. One particular dish that gained popularity in southern France is Cassoulet. ...
  • Oeufs en meurette. If you ever find yourself in Burgundy mid-morning then stop off for brunch and try this French version of poached eggs. ...
  • Religieuse au chocolat. ...
  • Baguette au fromage. ...
  • Bouillabaisse.
Jul 22, 2017

What is France's signature dish? ›

Pot-au-Feu, France's National Dish | History Today.

What are the 4 meals of a French person? ›

Like most people, the French generally eat three times a day.
  • 1) Petit-déjeuner – Breakfast. In France, breakfast might be smaller than what you're used to. ...
  • 2) Déjeuner – Lunch. ...
  • 3) Dîner – Dinner. ...
  • Goûter – Snack.

What is a typical Parisian breakfast? ›

A typical French breakfast consists of a croissant or bread with butter and jam and sometimes a sweet pastry. Fresh fruit juice and hot beverages, like coffee or tea, are also included.

What is a typical French dinner at home? ›

Here, we've gathered a sampling of our traditional French favorites: the wine-braised chicken stew coq au vin, the Provençal fish stew bouillabaisse, a vegetable-based take on French onion soup, and more. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy cooking your way through these classics.

What are 2 popular French dishes? ›

Most common French dishes in a nutshell:
  • Moules frites. This dish consists of mussels and French fries. ...
  • Cassoulet. Cassoulet is a dish that originates from Southwestern France. ...
  • Steak-frites. Steak-frites consists of a piece of steak served with French fries. ...
  • Boeuf Bourguignon. ...
  • Raclette. ...
  • Coq au Vin. ...
  • Pot au feu. ...
  • Salade Niçoise.

What is a typical French dinner menu? ›

The typical French dinner menu is salade verte (green salad) followed by viande avec garniture (meat with vegetables), fromage, and dessert. You may also see potage (soup) and hors d'oeuvres (appetizers) as a first course.

What is a classic French dinner? ›

1. **Coq au Vin**: Coq au Vin is a hearty dish made with chicken, red wine, mushrooms, onions, and bacon. It's typically served with potatoes or crusty bread. 2. **Bœuf Bourguignon**: This is a beef stew cooked in red wine with mushrooms, onions, and bacon.

What is the Sunday lunch in France? ›

In France, families gather at mother's or grandmother's house on Sunday for a traditional midday meal. Part of the pleasure, especially for the host or hostess, is that guests and family arrive with contributions to the meal. And, most often, those offerings aren't cooked at home. They're purchased along the way.

What is a French dessert? ›

Top 12 Popular Desserts in France
  • Crème brûlée. Crème brûlée is arguably the most well-known French dessert outside of France, a staple on menus from Paris to New York. ...
  • Chocolate Soufflé ...
  • The Mille-Feuille. ...
  • Fruit Tarts.
  • Apple Tarte Tatin. ...
  • Paris-Brest. ...
  • Ile Flottante. ...
  • Eclair & Religieuse.
Jan 19, 2024

What are some French appetizers? ›

French Appetizer Recipes
  • Phyllo-Wrapped Brie with Fig Preserves and Toasted Walnuts.
  • Brie with Cranberry Chutney.
  • Puff Pastry Wreath with Brie.
  • Chicken Terrine.
  • Slow-Cooker French Onion Meatballs.
  • Camembert and Cherry Pastry Puffs.
  • Crab Fondue.
  • "Around the World" Cheese Ball Flight.

What do the French eat for snacks? ›

Some typical French snacks include:
  • Crêpes, galettes, beignets.
  • Baguette sandwiches.
  • Pizzas.
  • Quiches.
  • Tartines (toast with butter and jam)
  • Croissants, pains au chocolat, pains aux raisins (pastries)
  • Biscuits (cookies)
  • Fougasse (a large flatbread sprinkled with herbs), focaccia (an Italian flatbread)
Apr 20, 2022

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