Jacques Pépin's Favorite Pound Cake
The French call pound cake quatre-quarts ("four-fourths") because it is made with equal parts flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Jacques Pépin's mother, aunt and cousin all have their versions. He likes to fold in candied citrus peels to make a French fruit cake; he also loves plain slices dipped in espresso.
Duck à l'Orange
Because a single duck rarely has enough meat to feed more than two or three people, Jacques Pépin prepares two ducks side by side when serving this classic dish to guests. And because he's roasting whole ducks, he cooks them until they're well done, which results in the crispiest skin and best flavor.
Salmon Trout Tartare with Pressed Caviar and Tomatoes
Salmon trout has a mild, delicate taste, but regular salmon is also delicious in this bright-flavored tartare.
Brandade de Morue au Gratin (Whipped Salt Cod Gratin)
TThe Provençal dish known as brandade de morue is a great example of how to elevate modest ingredients like salt cod and potatoes—in this case, by whipping them with milk, olive oil and garlic until luxuriously silky. Jacques Pépin's extra step of serving the dish au gratin (browned, with cheese on top) makes it that much more delicious.
Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
You can serve the boulettes ("small balls") 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.
While restaurants traditionally make the buttery, orange-flavored sauce for this famous dessert tableside from start to finish, Pépin finds it easier to prepare largely in advance when entertaining. He flambés the liquor in front of his dinner guests and pours it over the platter of crêpes while still flaming.
Quick-Roasted Chicken with Mustard and Garlic
For this delicious, mustardy chicken, Jacques Pépin splits the chicken and cuts between the leg and shoulder joints to halve the cooking time.
Country Apple Galette
Jacques Pépin loves to serve this delicate apple tart as a buffet dessert, since it's beautiful, easy to slice and simple to eat, pizza-style, while standing. The miraculously easy and versatile pastry dough comes together in a food processor in less than 20 seconds and can be filled with all sorts of fruits or vegetables. Because the tart is free-form, the pastry can be rolled into either a round or a rectangle.
Roast Capon with Mushroom-Armagnac Sauce
Capons are very large, neutered roosters that often have an intense chicken flavor. In this recipe, Jacques Pépin roasts the bird simply, then makes a mushroom-Armagnac sauce enriched with cream, vermouth and the pan juices from the capon.
Roasted Fingerling Potato and Pressed Caviar Canapés
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.
Families in Alsace generally eat choucroute garnie during the wintertime, because it's such a hearty, filling dish.; Jacques 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. He always serves two or three types of mustard with the choucroute—a hot Dijon, a grainy Pommery and often a tarragon-flavored mustard as well.
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.
Fromage fort is the ultimate way of using leftover cheese. Jacques 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 Pépin's 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.
Chocolate Tartlets with Candied Grapefruit Peel
Orange is the classic choice with chocolate, but candied grapefruit peel has a little bitterness that is also enjoyable. Jacques Pépin prefers using a deep, strong, dark chocolate with about 70 percent cocoa—the richer the better.
Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
This is the quintessential beef stew. Jacques Pépin’s mother served it at her restaurant, Le Pélican, where she made it with tougher cuts of meat. Jacques likes the flatiron—a long, narrow cut that’s extremely lean but becomes tender and stays moist. He doesn’t use stock, demiglace or even water in his stew, relying on robust red wine for the deep-flavored sauce.
Carbonnade à la Flamande (Flemish Beef Stew)
This classic Belgian beef stew is known for its sweet-sour combination of caramelized onions and beer. Any dark Belgian-style ale would be a good choice here. As with most stews, the dish will taste even better a day or two after it's made.
Apricot Pâte de Fruit
According to Jacques Pépin, "Pâtes de fruits, or fruit jellies, are very popular around the holidays—and usually expensive." In France, pâtes de fruits are sold in high-end pâtisseries or pastry shops. The French roll them in sanding sugar, which has large crystals that cling to the candy without melting. Table sugar also works, as long as the jellies are rolled in it just before serving.
Gruyère Cheese Soufflé
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.
Grouper with Jicama and Black Bean Sauce
This dish was inspired by the delicious local grouper Jacques Pépin picks up at the beach when the fishermen return with their catch. Here, the skinned fillets are steamed over a bed of simmering local vegetables, including a dice of juicy jicama, which Jacques usually adds raw to salads for a cool crunch.
Grapefruit Granité with Mangoes and White Rum Mojito
Unlike traditional granita, which is stirred frequently as it freezes so that light ice flakes form, Jacques Pépin freezes his granité in a block until it is completely firm, then softens it in the fridge until it's slightly slushy before scooping it into bowls. The sauce for his light, tropical dessert is a riff on the mojito, the minty cocktail.