Open up your recipe book to “beef wellington” or “coq au vin” and it’s easy to be intimidated. Their many steps and ingredients seem too daunting even for special occasions, much less weekday meals. However, no recipe is unconquerable if the directions are simple and the ingredients are trimmed down enough to be manageable for the everyday pantry. Here are recipes for traditionally complex dishes that will encourage you to expand your culinary repertoire.
Coq au Vin is a classic French dish with rustic origins dating back to Ancient Rome. Traditionally, it requires a very old rooster to spend 1 to 2 days marinating in burgundy. Thin strips of thick-cut bacon are then layered in a cast iron pot and cooked with butter until honey colored, at which point the rooster is added. More wine, more herbs, and a lot more time, and you have a classic coq au vin. While sacrilegious to some, this dish can be simplified to capture the same essence in a fraction of the time.
Coq au Vin Express (from Kitchen of Friends)
Soufflé is a cake made from beaten egg whites, egg yolks, and some kind of custard, cream sauce, or purée. It gets its name from the French verb “souffler,” which means “to puff up.” Soufflés can be very tricky to make; if made incorrectly, they have a 10% chance of emitting a whoopee cushion noise and flying around the room before falling comically on someone’s foot. This cheese soufflé, however, is delicious, simple, and a great start for anyone who’s ever wanted to try one.
Paella is a classic Valencian dish consisting of white rice, and many combinations of vegetables, meat, and seafood. It gets its name from the old French word “paelle” for pan, as it traditionally requires a special thin, round, steel pan to make. Cooked over an open flame, it develops a crispy layer of rice at the bottom, considered a delicacy essential to the overall taste and flavor. Over time, paella became a specialty dish, too troublesome for the every day, but this fantastic recipe is here to change that.
Sausage and Tomato Paella (from Crispy Waffle)
Beef Wellington is a fillet steak coated with pâté de foie gras and minced mushrooms and baked in puff pastry. The origin of its name is disputed: it comes from either the Duke of Wellington, the town of Wellington, New Zealand, or it is simply an English variation on the French dish “filet de bœuf en croûte.” In the classic dish, the ingredients are expensive and the preparation is lengthy, but this recipe for individual small-plate Beef Wellingtons is much more manageable and still very impressive.
Beef Wellington (from The Review Lady)
Mille-Feuille, also known as the Napoleon, is traditionally made up of two layers of crème pâtissière between three layers of puff pastry, topped with a combed glaze of icing and chocolate or dusted with confectioner’s sugar. An ideal napoleon, when tasted, should reveal a custard with a creamy smooth texture in balance with a vanilla taste and a crisp, crunchy pastry topped and a smooth and shiny fondant. This classic napoleon recipe takes on this delicate dessert with simplified pride.
Classic Napoleon (from Sugarcrafter)
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