Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin

Jacques Pépin

F&W Star Chef " See All F&W Chef Superstars Cooking legend Jacques Pépin offers a fun and thrifty homemade holiday gift to give, his favorite places to visit on a holiday trip to Connecticut and a surprising strategy for cooking for a crowd. What are your favorite holiday food gifts? I like to give candied citrus peel: orange, lemon, lime, sometimes grapefruit, which we put in little jars to give to friends. Sometimes we dip the peels halfway in chocolate, sometimes we don't. You dip them after the peels have been candied, pressed in dry sugar and completely air-dried. You can use white chocolate for lime peel, dark chocolate for orange. We've done that for many years. What's your favorite holiday cocktail? Champagne, without question. But we do a few drinks here and there. I do one inspired by Julia Child's husband, Paul Child, who did something similar with gin. I call mine a Reverse Manhattan, with bourbon and vermouth in the opposite ratios as in a real Manhattan: several ounces of sweet vermouth, a lot of ice and a wedge of lime, with only 1 or 2 tablespoons of bourbon. I like a regular Manhattan, too, but this one's easier to drink. For many years I've used an American vermouth from California called Gambarelli & Davitto. It's got a slight bitterness and a nice sweetness, and I've used it for so long now, I guess I'm used to it, but you can use any French or Italian sweet vermouth. Can you give one great entertaining tip? Plan your menu, and you can do a lot ahead, if you plan correctly. I read somewhere that it's impossible to cook well for more than 10 people. And it's true in many ways. On the other hand, if you ask me if I can do something for 1,500 people, I'll say yes, but what am I going to do? I'm going to buy 10 prosciutto legs and smoked salmon and the best possible cheeses and nuts I can find for a big buffet. Am I going to cook anything? No. If it's for 300 people, maybe I'll cook something. By the time it gets to 30 or 40 people, I may do three-fourths of the meal, and so forth. It's a question of what you can do and what you cannot. I'll do a class on raspberry soufflé, and a student will come back and say how she hosted a party for eight people and the soufflé was fantastic. But then she throws a party for 25 people, and the soufflé is a disaster! Then you need four soufflés, to juggle the oven, the timing. What are 4 don't-miss places on a holiday trip to Connecticut? There's a lovely, typical French bistro here in Madison called Bar Bouchée. It's very cute, and they have the classic fare from pike quenelles to snail to steak tartare. You know exactly what to expect, the food is good, and they have a great wine list. The same people own Union League Café in New Haven, it's much larger and fancier, but it's a beautiful place with great food. That's where we usually do New Year's Eve. The town of Chester, Connecticut, is very picturesque, and there are a lot of decorations, people put up lights and flowers, so that's a good place to visit in the wintertime. The Bee and Thistle in Lyme, Connecticut, looks like an old British inn, full of antiques, and the food is quite good. What is a typical menu for a holiday feast at the Pépin house? For the holidays, we always do poultry of one kind or another, like capon, or goose if I can find a good goose, then braised chestnuts, and as long as we can find them, we have oysters or some kind of pâté or terrine, which sometimes I make, sometimes I buy. For dessert we have a bûche de Noël, the classic Christmas log. What's your signature dish? Maybe hard-cooked eggs. When I was a kid, my mother made a dish that I call Eggs Jeanette: a hard-cooked egg cut in half, the yolk taken out and mashed with a lot of garlic and parsley with salt, pepper and a tablespoon or so of milk. Then the eggs are restuffed and sautéed, stuffed side down, in a skillet with olive oil. They brown very fast. Then you have a little bit of the stuffing leftover, which we make into a mustard sauce to serve with it. I've never seen that dish anywhere, so it's kind of a signature dish, if you want. Do you have a favorite cookbook of all time? If I need to look at certain things in French, I probably would look at Larousse Gastronomique; for American cooking, Joy of Cooking. But in general it's hard for me to cook out of a cookbook. I have to write recipes because that's what I do for a living, but the pleasure for me is to cook without one, to go to the market and cook what I find there. What's one technique everyone should know? I suppose it should be how to sharpen your knife properly. But technique in general is very important for me. Two of my books, La Technique and La Méthode, are being reprinted this winter with new color photographs, in Jacques Pépin's New Complete Techniques I first published them 40 years ago. I don't cook the way I did 40 years ago, but the techniques—how to bone a chicken, how to cook an omelet—haven't changed. With knife sharpening as with anything, it's a question of repeat, repeat, repeat, so that they become part of yourself, so you don't have to worry about it anymore.
This recipe is inspired by Spanish ingredients and combines them in a quick and tasty way. Spanish chorizo or chouriço, the Portuguese version of this spicy sausage, works well in this recipe.Depending on the size of the asparagus (Jacques Pépin likes fat, firm specimens), the cooking time may need to be increased or decreased by a minute or so. He prefers his asparagus a bit firm to the bite, but not raw or crunchy. Jacques and Claudine Pépin: Best Kitchen UtensilsPlus: More Vegetable Recipes and Tips
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Gruyère Cheese Soufflé
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To get the most crust with the cheesiest flavor, Jacques Pépin uses a wide, shallow gratin dish, then creates a lattice on top with thin slices of American cheese. A soufflé ramekin would work too. Slideshow:  How to Make Cheese Soufflé 
Skillet Apple Charlotte
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A classic apple charlotte has a crust of buttered bread slices filled with caramelized apples. In this quick version, apple wedges are sautéed with honey and maple syrup, topped with buttered toast and turned out of the pan like a tarte Tatin.Plus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips
Skillet Duck
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For this easy recipe, the duck is fried in much the same method as souther fried chicken—in a covered pan so that steam develops—which keeps the meat extremely moist and tender.A special tip: If the duck isn't being served the day it's cooked, it can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated in the rendered duck fat, which protects it nicely for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, transfer the fat to a jar and reheat the duck, skin side down, in a covered skillet over high heat until warmed through; broil to recrisp the skin if necessary. The fat can be refrigerated for up to 2 months and used to sauté potatoes or other vegetables. More Incredible Duck Recipes
One of Jacques Pépin's all-time favorite desserts, raspberry gratin, is a cinch to make if you have frozen, unsweetened raspberries on hand, as he always does, and good-quality store-bought cookies. Pépin gives two recipe variations: One is made with packaged chocolate-chip cookies, because he loves the combined flavors of chocolate and raspberries; and one makes use of buttery shortbread, his wife's favorite recipe.The chocolate-chip cookies are best crumbled by hand, because the chips would puree in a food processor and make the mixture pasty. The shortbread can be crumbled in the food processor or by placing it in a plastic bag and crushing it with the bottom of a small skillet or a rolling pin. The gratins are best served lukewarm or at room temperature, with or without sour cream.Plus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips
Jacques Pépin's friend Jacky Ruette, the former chef-owner of La Petite Marmite and Prunelle restaurants in New York City; developed this recipe with ingredients that just happened to be around. Terrific Green Salads
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Rustic Apple Tart
Rating: Unrated
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This is the flakiest, easiest, best pie crust we've ever tested. Master chef Jacques Pépin has created a virtually fail-safe recipe that is completely hassle-free: You don't even need to chill the dough before you roll it out. F&W's Grace Parisi tops it with apples, but you can use almost any firm fruit in season, such as pears, peaches, apricots, plums or rhubarb. If using especially juicy fruit, add 1 tablespoon of ground nuts to the 1 tablespoon of flour and 2 tablespoons of sugar that are sprinkled over the pastry before the fruit is added. Beautiful Desserts
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.Plus: Ultimate Holiday Guide
Jacques Pépin's friend Jacky Ruette, the former chef-owner of La Petite Marmite and Prunelle restaurants in New York City; developed this recipe with ingredients that just happened to be around. Terrific Green Salads
Rustic Apple Tart
Rating: Unrated
9
This is the flakiest, easiest, best pie crust we've ever tested. Master chef Jacques Pépin has created a virtually fail-safe recipe that is completely hassle-free: You don't even need to chill the dough before you roll it out. F&W's Grace Parisi tops it with apples, but you can use almost any firm fruit in season, such as pears, peaches, apricots, plums or rhubarb. If using especially juicy fruit, add 1 tablespoon of ground nuts to the 1 tablespoon of flour and 2 tablespoons of sugar that are sprinkled over the pastry before the fruit is added. Beautiful Desserts
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.Plus: Ultimate Holiday Guide
For this easy, impressive hors d'oeuvre, Jacques Pépin tops roasted fingerling potatoes with sour cream and slender diamonds of pressed caviar. Boiled, sliced red potatoes also work. Slideshow:  More Recipes by Jacques Pépin 
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For this delicious, mustardy chicken, Jacques Pépin splits the chicken and cuts between the leg and shoulder joints to halve the cooking time.
The Swiss chard is a stand-in for the robust green sweet potato leaves Pépin discovered in Africa, and fresh trout replaces the Kalahari river bream he found there. Amazing Seafood Recipes
Jacques Pépin's mother-in-law, who was from Puerto Rico, seasoned her steaks liberally with lime juice before and after cooking, then served them with a sauce that included anchovies and garlic. This is Pépin's sped-up version. Amazing Steak Recipes
Mussel and Potato Salad
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Cooking the mussels for this tasty, mustard-dressed salad produces a cooking liquid that can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and used to enhance other seafood dishes.Plus: More Seafood Recipes and Tips
Mémé's Apple Tart
Rating: Unrated
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Chef Jacques Pépin remembers well the famous apple tart his mother made every day as a dessert offering in her small Lyons restaurant, Le Pélican. Unlike any other dough, hers achieved its tender, crumbly, airy texture from the combination of vegetable shortening, baking powder and warm milk mixed with the flour. He hopes you enjoy this taste he associates with food memories from his youth. Beautiful Desserts
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When I have leftover cooked meat from a roast or a stew, or even leftover steak, I often chop it and use it to make stuffing, chili or meatballs like these boulettes ("small balls")—a staple in every French housewife's cooking repertoire. You can serve the boulettes on their own with a salad, or brush them with barbecue sauce and serve with mashed potatoes. Here, they're topped with a quick-cooking tomato sauce dotted with tangy green olives. More Jacques Pépin Recipes
Jacques Pépin makes quick pizzas with pita bread, lavash or flour tortillas. The possibilities are endless, from a simple Margherita to a white-clam pie inspired by the renowned Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napolitana in New Haven, Connecticut. "The oven at Pepe's is heated with coal to over 2,000°," Pépin says. "While you can't duplicate that in your home oven, my tortilla version is quite good." More Recipes by Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin ordered a saiti, a turnover filled with tangy wild greens and feta, at Marianthi tavern in the Greek village of Monemvasía. This recipe is a close approximation. The olive oil in the dough (adapted from a recipe by Diane Kochilas) makes the crust extraordinarily flaky.
Caviar is a classic complement to shellfish; here, pressed caviar shavings season shrimp in a mushroom cream sauce. More Fast Pasta Recipes
Fresh Raspberry Tart
Rating: Unrated
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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.Plus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips