We're having a bit of a love affair with France -- and we're not alone. The James Beard Foundation listed the revival of French cuisine as one of the food trends to watch in 2017 and everyone from fine dining chefs to home cooks are getting in on the resurgence.
"It has been lightened up, modernized," said acclaimed New York City chef Gabriel Kreuther of the renewed interest in his native cuisine. "Since the public is becoming more and more passionate about food, they are interested and intrigued to learn about the classical techniques."
Traditional French cooking is known for complex sauces, rich stews, and poultry dishes, now chefs are revitalizing the classic repetoire. At his New York City restaurant, Kreuther and his staff are working on a spring menu that will include such essential ingredients as morels, monkfish, frogs legs, and asparagus in dishes that are based in French cuisine but expressed in a lighter form. Chef Kevin Adey of the newly Michelin-starred Faro in Brooklyn always has something rooted in French cuisine on his menu, such as his sauce Diane, which he serves with pastured beef and instead of using mushrooms in the classic sauce of brandy, cream, garlic and mustard, he shaves matsutake mushrooms on top. "It's great food that half a generation has not seen and they are now discovering it, while diners who once loved it are remembering how good it is," Adey said.
It might have a reputation for time-consuming, multi-step preparations, cooking French cuisine at home seems intimidating but it needn't be. There are plenty of basic recipes, as simple as ratatouille or as quick as a dish of moules marinière.
Here are four classic French entrees to try at home:
Coq au Vin: The wine in this stew mellows into a luxuriously rich, velvety sauce that envelopes each piece of chicken.
Pissaladiere: A tasty southern French take on pizza, it's perfect for lunch or a casual drinks party.
Baked Cod with Tomatoes and Potatoes: In this easy fish main, the cod bakes atop the sliced tomatoes and potatoes.
Cassoulet D'Artagnan: A hearty, slow cooked casserole made with duck, sausage, and beans that's just right for winter.
One final bit of advice from Kreuther, important for any recipe not just French ones:
"Read any recipe twice from start to finish so that you have an idea of what you're in for and also to understand how the ingredients are used or split."