Sep 09 2017

Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook

Julia Remembered

Jacques takes a stroll down memory lane as he lovingly prepares dishes once enjoyed with his dear cooking companion Julia Child. Jacques’ retrospective menu begins with a shucking lesson, the first steps towards an Oyster Chowder with Potatoes, Spinach and Corn. Jacques then recreates Julia’s classic South of France Eggplant-Tomato Gratin, a dish with layers of rustic flavors. He recalls going head-to-head with Julia for a winning Hamburger Royale using fresh ground beef and all the fixin’s. (Web only video recipe: Cherry Crumble)

Oyster Chowder with Potatoes, Spinach, and Corn

“For this thick chowder, I prefer larger oysters (3 or 4 to the pound). I like the chowder made with milk, which I find results in a more delicate and flavorful soup, but half-and-half can be substituted for a richer taste.

“Opening oysters can be tricky, so to make it easier, I place them in a 400-degree oven until they start to open but are still basically raw. At this point, you can easily slide a paring knife inside and cut the adductor muscle to open the oysters. This can be done ahead, even the day before preparing the chowder. The potatoes can also be prepared ahead, and the corn cut off the cob, so the final recipe can be finished in 20 minutes or so.” —Jacques Pépin

Eggplant-Tomato Gratin

“When my garden is producing in full summer, I love to make vegetable gratins. I top this one with bread crumbs from a day-old baguette and Gruyère cheese. Mixed with a little olive oil, it makes a crusty, chunky topping.” —Jacques Pépin

Hamburger Royale

“I make hamburgers that weigh about 5 ounces each and cook them on a grill or in a grill pan on top of the stove. Do not press on the hamburgers as they cook, or you will lose the juices.

“The ciabatta rolls available at my market make great hamburger buns; I usually toast them and rub them with garlic. I also like to put cheese on my hamburgers—Comté, Beaufort, or Gruyère. I arrange the cheese on top of the finished burgers and then run them under the broiler to melt it. I make 8 patties and freeze half of them for another time; you can halve the beef quantity if you prefer.” —Jacques Pépin

Cherry Crumble

“Gloria loves cherry pie and the classic French clafoutis, and so do I, but when time is short, I’m happy with this simple cherry crumble. Serve it warm with ice cream, crème fraîche, or sour cream. I often buy frozen pitted cherries for this dessert.” —Jacques Pépin