Enjoy cooking with Jacques Pepin and the OPL

Jacques Pépin

French-born chef Jacques Pepin posted this interesting article on his Facebook page today, in which a writer claims the chef “saved his life” at a particularly “down” time. The GQ article is here.

Pepin has been an enduring presence in home cooking, as an accomplished chef and quiet personality. Some readers will remember his television shows with the iconic Julia Child.

Today Pepin’s shows are seen regularly on PBS in the United States, and his cookbooks are always popular.

Why not check out one of Pepin’s wonderful cookbooks? Our favourite in these busy times is his Fast Food My Way, and his current Heart and Soul in the Kitchen.

If you are interested in his life story, his biography is also available at the OPL, titled The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen.

On a recent edition of his TV show, Heart and Soul in the Kitchen, Pepin prepared linguine with clam sauce (in a manner reminiscent of Marcella Hazan, but we digress) and then finished it off with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. “The Italians will tell you never to put cheese on shellfish,” he intoned privately, as though you and he were the only ones in the room, “but I don’t care — I like it.”

So do we.


Poulet à la Crème

Jacques Pepin writes: “Chicken in cream sauce is a specialty of the town where I was born, Bourg-en-Bresse. My mother’s simple recipe included a whole cut-up chicken with water, a dash of flour, and a bit of cream to finish. I have added white wine and mushrooms to make the dish a bit more sophisticated, and used chicken thighs, which are the best part of the chicken.” His mother served it with rice pilaf.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), skin removed (about 2½ pounds skinned)

8 mushrooms (about 6 ounces), washed and sliced

1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup water

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Melt butter in large, heavy deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add chicken thighs in one layer and brown over high heat, about 2½ minutes on each side.

Add mushrooms to pan and sprinkle with flour. Turn chicken pieces with tongs so flour is dispersed evenly. Stir in wine and water and mix well. Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat, and cook gently for 25 minutes.

Add cream, bring to boil, and then boil uncovered about 1 minute, until just lightly thickened. Serve sprinkled with tarragon if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

— Adapted from “Heart & Soul in the Kitchen,” by Jacques Pépin. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, $35).


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