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Jacques Pépin’s Perfect Holiday Dishes

When Jacques Pépin debuted his first TV series in 1982, he introduced America to simple, unpretentious, utterly delicious French dishes. Here are a just a few of his fabulous recipes that would be perfect for the holidays.

Fromage Fort

Fromage fort is the ultimate way of using leftover cheese. Pépin’s father used to combine pieces of Camembert, Brie, Swiss, blue cheese and goat cheese together with his mother’s leek broth, some white wine and crushed garlic. These ingredients marinated in a cold cellar for a week to a week-and-a-half (he liked it really strong). Now his wife, Gloria, makes a milder version in a food processor that takes only seconds. It is delicious with crackers or melted onto toasts. It also freezes well.
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Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

For many Americans, the quintessential French stew is boeuf bourguignon—beef cooked in Burgundy red wine. The stew, featured regularly at Pépin’s mother’s restaurant, was made from tougher, cheaper cuts of beef, which had to be braised a long time to get tender and to stay moist.
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Roasted Goose with Crispy Skin

Separate the skin from the meat, then steam the goose before roasting—an adaptation of a Chinese technique that helps the bird baste in its own fat and ensures crispy skin.
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Beef Stew with Belgian Style Pale Ale

For this earthy and satisfying stew, Pépin prefers to use flatiron steaks (also known by the butcher’s term chicken steaks), a newly popular and surprisingly tender and inexpensive cut of beef that comes from the top blade near the shoulder.
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Choucroute Garnie

Families in Alsace generally eat choucroute garnie during the wintertime, because it’s such a hearty, filling dish. Pépin has adapted the recipe to make it quicker and easier—calling for store-bought sauerkraut instead of the homemade kind, for instance, and suggesting peanut oil as a substitute for duck or goose fat, which may be less accessible. Pépin always serve two or three types of mustard with the choucroute—a hot Dijon, a grainy Pommery and often a tarragon-flavored mustard as well.
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Warm Onion Flans with Fresh Tomato Sauce

These flans (and other egg-thickened custards that are made without flour) benefit from being cooked in a water bath, where they are surrounded by gentle, moist heat. Any small glass, metal or ceramic baking dish can be used to fashion the water bath, as long as it’s at least 2 inches deep. For even cooking, it’s best if the ramekins fit snugly in the water bath and if the water reaches at least halfway up their sides.
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Garlicky Cherry Tomato and Bread Gratin

The cherry tomatoes in Pépin’s simple gratin add color to a winter menu and hold their shape well during cooking.
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Fresh Raspberry Tart

To make sure the pastry stays crisp and flaky, arrange the raspberries on top no more than 30 minutes before serving. The jam not only sets the berries in place, it also adds flavor intensity and gives them a beautiful shine.
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Chocolate Tartlets with Candied Grapefruit Peel

Orange is the classic choice with chocolate, but candied grapefruit peel has a little bitterness that Pépin also enjoys. He prefers deep, strong, dark chocolate with about 70 percent cocoa—the richer the better.
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