Top 10 Traditional French Food Recipes You May Never Heard

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Bonjour! Are you a foodie looking to tantalize your taste buds with some classic French cuisine? French food is renowned worldwide for its rich and delicious flavors, and traditional French recipes are no exception. From savory stews to decadent desserts, French cuisine has something to offer everyone.

French cuisine is deeply rooted in tradition, and many of its classic dishes have been passed down through generations. These recipes are often simple but require attention to detail and quality ingredients to achieve the perfect balance of flavors. Whether you’re a beginner in the kitchen or an experienced chef, trying your hand at traditional French cooking is sure to impress your guests and satisfy your palate.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular traditional French food recipes, including Coq au Vin, Ratatouille, Beef Bourguignon, and Crème Brûlée. We’ll explore the history behind these dishes, their unique ingredients and cooking techniques, and provide step-by-step instructions to help you recreate them at home.

So, put on your apron and join me on a culinary journey through the heart of France. Let’s discover the secrets to creating these timeless dishes and experience the magic of French cuisine firsthand!

1. Hot Niçoise Salad

Traditional French Food Recipes

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow transforms one of her favorite salads, the Niçoise, into a hearty one-dish dinner by roasting tuna steaks on a tangle of beans, tomatoes, anchovies, and olives.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces meaty slab bacon, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1-inch lardons
  • One 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 cups dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • Bouquet garni (4 thyme sprigs, 8 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf tied with kitchen twine)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thickly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

  1. In a very large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet skin side down in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet.
  3. Add the garlic, onion and carrots to the pan. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until barely softened, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until nearly tender, 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, bouquet garni and bacon and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken in the broth, cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the chicken is white throughout, about 45 minutes.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil over high heat. When the foam subsides, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni. Garnish the coq au vin with the parsley and serve.

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2. Coq au Vin

Traditional French Food Recipes
The traditional braised chicken stew usually marinates overnight, but this lighter, quicker version is equally delicious.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces meaty slab bacon, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1-inch lardons
  • One 4-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 cups dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • Bouquet garni (4 thyme sprigs, 8 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf tied with kitchen twine)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thickly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

  1. In a very large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet skin side down in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet.
  3. Add the garlic, onion and carrots to the pan. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until barely softened, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook until nearly tender, 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, bouquet garni and bacon and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken in the broth, cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the chicken is white throughout, about 45 minutes.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil over high heat. When the foam subsides, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni. Garnish the coq au vin with the parsley and serve.

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3. Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee

Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee, Traditional French Food Recipes

This lightened-up classic is fast to pull together — especially if you buy pre-sliced mushrooms. It has a rich, slow-cooked flavor. A splash of cream makes it extra decadent but still light.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • Four 8-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 pounds cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons minced tarragon leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  2. Add the butter, shallot, salt and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 12 minutes. Add the flour and cook until it smells lightly toasty, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the wine, broth and reserved chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish.
  4. Increase the heat to moderately high and simmer the sauce, uncovered, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the minced tarragon and heavy cream. Spoon the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and serve immediately.

Notes

Tip: Swap out the mushrooms for leeks for a lighter-flavored dish. Tip: Chop any leftover chicken and mushrooms and serve as a sauce over pasta or polenta. One serving: 396 cal, 14 gm fat, 4.5 gm sat fat, 12 gm carb, 2 gm fiber, 51 gm protein.
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4. Caramelized Onion and Bread Soup with Brûléed Blue Cheese

Caramelized Onion and Bread Soup with Brûléed Blue Cheese, Traditional French Food Recipes

In this vegetarian version of classic French onion soup, blue cheese and oloroso sherry bring new layers of flavor and depth. Notes of toasted nuts and fruit compote in the sherry pair well with caramelized onions, and its briny acidity cuts through the richness of the cheese.

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 pounds mixed onions (such as 2 large yellow onions, 2 large red onions, and 2 large sweet onions), halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (about 16 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup oloroso sherry
  • 6 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 6 day-old whole-grain rustic bread slices, halved
  • 4 ounces Stilton cheese, thoroughly chilled and thinly sliced with a wire cheese slicer or crumbled

Directions

  1. Combine onions, oil, and butter in a stockpot over medium-high; toss together. (Tongs are a great tool to use for tossing this many onions.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions start to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring and scraping any browned bits from bottom of pot with a wooden spoon, until onions are tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
  2. Add sherry, and cook, stirring to scrape up any remaining browned bits. Simmer over medium, stirring constantly, until sherry is mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, until flavors marry, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in vinegar, and cook 1 minute; add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Preheat oven to broil with oven rack 6 inches from heat. Remove and discard thyme sprigs. Divide hot soup evenly among 6 ovenproof crocks or bowls, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place 2 bread pieces on each bowl, and gently push them down until half- submerged but still at top of soup. Add cheese slices (or a handful of crumbles) to each bowl. Broil until melted, bubbly, and browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes.

Notes

The soup, cooked through step 2, will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days. It can be frozen in an airtight container up to 3 months.

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5. Short Rib Bourguignon

Short Rib Bourguignon, Traditional French Food Recipes

This classic dish originated from the Burgundy region of eastern France as a pauper’s dish, created to turn tough beef into a delicious meal. Here, chef Aaron Barnett upgrades it with short ribs.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds trimmed boneless beef short ribs, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
  • 9 carrots—5 cut into 2-inch pieces, 4 cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 5 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 medium onions, quartered
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 pound meaty slab bacon—half cut into 1/4-inch-thick lardons, half cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 bay leaves tied with 15 thyme sprigs
  • 2 pounds stemmed button mushrooms
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag, add the beef, 2-inch carrot pieces, celery, onions, garlic and red wine and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°. Strain the beef and vegetables over a bowl; reserve the wine. Separate the meat from the vegetables. Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. In batches, sear the meat over high heat until browned on all sides, 30 minutes; transfer the meat to a bowl as you go.
  3. Reduce the heat to moderate, add the marinated vegetables and cook until softened, 8 minutes. Add the reserved wine, stock, large bacon pieces, herb bundle and meat along with any juices; bring to a simmer.
  4. Braise the stew in the oven for 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat and bacon to a bowl. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids.
  5. Wipe out the casserole. Add the lardons and crisp over moderately high heat, 10 minutes; transfer to paper towels. Working in batches, add the mushrooms to the casserole and cook until golden, 8 minutes per batch. Add the mushrooms to the meat.
  6. Add the carrot rounds and braising liquid to the pot and simmer until the liquid is reduced by one-third. Add the meat, bacon, lardons and mushrooms; simmer until the sauce reduces slightly. Season with salt and pepper and let cool. Refrigerate overnight.
  7. Skim the fat from the stew and reheat. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Suggested Pairing

It’s fantastic with a Beaujolais.

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6. Chicken Chasseur

A French classic that never seems to go out of style, this dish combines mushrooms and chicken in a tomato and white wine sauce. The name, literally “hunter’s chicken,” harks back to a time when game birds and mushrooms from the woods were a natural autumn combination.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds in all)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook until browned, turning, about 8 minutes in all. Remove. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan.
  2. Add the butter to the pan and reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to moderately high. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the vermouth and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, thyme, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices. Reduce the heat; simmer, covered, until the chicken is done, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Suggested pairing

This earthy dish is perfectly suited to the rustic charms of a country red wine from southwestern France. Look for a bottle from one of the various appellations in that region, such as Cahors, Madiran, or Bergerac.

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7. Ham Steaks in Madeira Sauce

Julia Child was a longtime Food & Wine contributor — and a champion of ham. For this recipe, she was inspired by a dish called jambon à la morvandelle, the signature dish of famous French chef Alexandre Dumaine. “Although supermarket ham will do, real country ham will give you a dish more like Dumaine’s fabled creation,” wrote Child.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • 2 (12-ounce) boneless cured ham steaks
  • 1/4 cup Madeira
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 4 ounces fresh button or wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup English peas (optional)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Heat oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add 1 ham steak to skillet, and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from skillet, and repeat procedure with remaining ham steak.
  2. Return steaks to skillet. Add Madeira, and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add stock, mushrooms, and shallots to skillet; cook, periodically spooning cooking liquid over steaks, until mushrooms are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove ham and mushrooms with a slotted spoon; set aside.
  3. Add peas, if using, and heavy cream to skillet. Stir and continue cooking until mixture is thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until blended. Cut ham into 8 equal pieces; serve sauce and mushrooms over ham.

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8. Marseille-Style Shrimp Stew

Large shrimp make this a knife-and-fork stew. Cookbook author Melissa Clark spreads a garlicky French rouille on toasts for dipping in the stew.

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Three 1-inch strips of orange zest
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1 cup canned whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Toasted baguettes, for serving

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mash the garlic with a pinch of salt. Whisk in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, paprika and cayenne. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Set the rouille aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the fennel and onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the garlic, orange zest and ground cloves and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, tomatoes, saffron and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, 10 minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp to the skillet, cover and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until cooked, 5 minutes. Discard the zest. Spread the rouille on toasts and serve with the stew.

Suggested Pairing

Crisp Provençal rosé.

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9. Julia Child’s French Onion Soup

Traditional French Food Recipes

This soup is so simple on the surface, but the flavors of onion, beef, bread, and cheese create such a rich and flavorful dish.

Beef broth is essential for that wonderfully deep flavor, but you can use chicken or vegetable if you’re looking to keep it meat-free.

Most of the work here is in caramelizing the onions, and you’ll just need to keep an eye on them, occasionally stirring so nothing sticks.

These are best served in individual pots, so there’s no fighting over the toasty, cheesy bread.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 6 cups beef stock (better if homemade)
  • 1/2 cup wine (dry white wine or dry white vermouth)
  • 8 slices French bread, about 1-inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons cognac
  • 1/2 raw yellow onion, grated
  • 12 ounces Swiss cheese, grated4 ou
  • nces parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a heavy-bottom stockpot or dutch oven on a stove over medium-low heat. Add cooking oil and butter. Saute onions until evenly coated with oil and butter.
  2. Cover the pot and let it sit until onions are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. For caramelized onions, turn the heat to medium or medium-high. Stir in sugar and salt and cook uncovered, stirring often until onions are browned and reduced.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the flour. Stir for 2-3 minutes, or until the flour and butter form a thick paste. If paste not achieved, add more butter.
  4. Mix in 1 cup of warm beef stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching. Stir in the remaining stock and wine. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. For the croutons or toasted bread, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Drizzle bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake the bread for 15 minutes at 325 degrees F. Flip the slices over and bake for another 15 minutes.
    Once the soup has simmered, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour the soup into a casserole dish. Stir in cognac, the 1/2 raw onion (grated), and a few ounces of Swiss cheese.
    Top the soup with toasted bread in a single layer. Top the bread with the remaining Swiss and Parmesan cheese. Be sure all the edges of bread are covered to avoid burning. Drizzle with oil or melted butter.
  8. Bake the casserole at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  9. Turn on the broiler and brown the cheeses.
  10. Let the soup cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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10. French Ratatouille Recipe

French Ratatouille Recipe, Traditional French Food Recipes

Brimming with veggies, this traditional dish is substantial enough to be served with some bread or a scoop of rice.

It also makes a colorful side to fish, chicken, beef, or pork.

I like the classic version, with eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes, but you can change the veggies to your preference.

Ingredients

  • 2 courgettes (zucchini)
  • 2 aubergine (eggplant)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 medium-sized onion
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 sprigs of parsley
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash and chop the peppers, eggplant, onions, and zucchini into slices.
  2. Wash and chop the tomatoes into quarters.
    In the Instant Pot, pour a little olive oil and start browning all the vegetables on the Sauté function. Start cooking the peppers, then add the eggplant into the pot, then the onions, then the zucchini, and finally the tomatoes.
  3. Add the herbs, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Put a lid on Instant Pot and cook at High Pressure for 2 minutes, with quick release.
  5. Once the countdown is finished, taste and season with more herbs and spices, if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately.

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About the Author: Jenny Kristy

Spice Seeker, Recipe Weaver, Nomad Chef |With a passport bursting with stamps and a pantry overflowing with global spices, Jenny Kristy isn't just a cook, she's a culinary nomad. Her travels fuel her passion, transforming exotic flavors into recipes that tantalize and transport. She weaves magic in her kitchen, sharing her adventures through meals that whisper of Marrakesh markets and Tuscan trattorias. From teaching sushi to whipping up Moroccan masterpieces, Jenny ignites wanderlust and connects cultures, one delicious bite at a time.

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