3 Recipes to Eat Like the Parisians from Home
Any French person will tell you that a trip to France is simply incomplete without tasting some incredible local cuisine. The bread, the cheese, the wine, it’s all part of the country’s very identity.
Paris is home to an astounding number of eateries: classic bistros, gastronomic restaurants, street food, delectable bakeries.. the list goes on. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t fall in love with at least one aspect of French cuisine while in Paris.
But what happens when you return home, to find that there’s no local fromagerie and your favorite corner café is suddenly out of reach?
Well, this article has the answer for you! I’ve put together a list of 3 recipes to eat like the Parisians from home. There’s an entrée, a main dish and a dessert in this guide, so they can be grouped together for a full menu meal, or enjoyed on their own, too!
All of the recipes I’ve included are tried and tested favorites, which will make you feel like you’re back in a Parisian restaurant. And I think you’ll be surprised at how easy they are to make!
Some Tips for French Cooking at Home
Most people assume that French cooking is innately fancy, time-consuming and difficult to pull off. I want to assure you that this is not true, or at least it doesn’t have to be!
Just a few quick words of advice before you start cooking:
Be patient. This is my first and most important word of advice for you. While French cooking certainly isn’t as complex as it’s made out to be, it does take time. Read your recipe through a few times, settle in with a good glass of wine and enjoy the process of making your very own French meal.
In French cooking, it’s the quality of the ingredients and a specially honed savoir-faire that set this cuisine apart as exceptional.
Fresh ingredients matter the most, so if you’re going to splurge do it on your produce, meats, fish and dairy products. Parisians really abide by this, and it shows through in their cooking.
So do like the Parisians so and buy fresher ingredients, more often, and usually from the market. I would recommend going to a farmer’s market if one is available near you.
Measuring is important! Kitchen scales are easy to use and affordable, this is one thing you should own if you want to eat like the Parisians from home.
I grew up using the Imperial System of measurement. Though much to my dismay, when I arrived in Paris I quickly discovered this was not the norm, nor was it as exact of a science as I’d thought. Using Metric measurements is much more exact and international, so that’s what I’ve used in this article.
So let’s start cooking!
1. Soupe Gratinée à l’Oignon – French Onion Soup
Oh this is a classic! French onion soup has been a Parisian bistro favorite for centuries, and I’m going to show you how to make it at home. This recipe is a little time-consuming, but don’t stress! Most of it is just passive cooking time.
Through the years, I’ve adapted this recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It takes around 2 hours from start to finish, but my favorite part about this soup is that you can make it up to 3 days ahead of time! Then just reheat and garnish when you’re ready to serve! And I can say from experience, this soup is definitely a crowd pleaser.
French Onion Soup Recipe to Eat Like the Parisians from Home
Serves 6 as a first course, 4 as a main
75g Butter (salted or unsalted, whatever you like best)
40g All-purpose flour (or about 3 large spoonfuls, you can adjust slightly as needed)
15g Brown sugar
6 Large yellow onions finely sliced (I like to mix in a sweet onion for extra flavor)
1.5L Beef stock (homemade is best but store-bought works too, veggie stock can be substituted if desired)
25cl Dry white wine
340g Gruyère cheese, grated (if you can’t find Gruyère, any strong Swiss cheese will do)
1 Baguette, cut into thick slices
Salt and Pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste
2 Bay leaves
2 Sprigs Thyme
4cl Cognac (optional)
1. Heat a large oven safe stockpot over a medium-low flame. Once the pan is warm, add the butter and a drizzle of olive oil. As soon as the butter has melted, add in the sliced onions, and stir to coat them evenly. Cover the pot and cook the onions for about 20 minutes or until they are translucent.
2. Turn the heat up to medium and add the sugar, and season the onion mixture with salt and pepper. Continue cooking the onions uncovered on medium, stirring occasionally until caramelized. This should take you around 30 minutes.
3. Once the onions are lovely golden-brown and caramelized, add in the flour and stir to coat them all evenly. Turn down to low and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, and add in the beef stock, wine, thyme, and bay leaves. Give it all a good stir, return to the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes. When your soup is almost finished, preheat your oven to 175°C or 350°F.
5. Remove the soup from the heat, and add Cognac if desired. Verify the seasoning and salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls, and look out for those lingering thyme sprigs and bay leaves; you can remove them before serving.
6. Top each bowl of soup with a few slices of baguette, and cover generously with the Gruyère cheese. Set the bows on a rack in the middle of the oven, and cook for about 10 minutes.
7. Once the cheese has begun to melt, turn your oven to broil (or grill) and place the bowls closer to the top. Watch them carefully and remove as soon as the cheese is golden and begins to bubble.
8. Remove from the oven, and serve hot with the remaining baguette.
2. Poulet Roti – Roast Chicken
In the Autumn and Winter months especially, you can stroll around any Parisian neighborhood and catch a whiff of slow-roasting chicken and veggies. Lining the hot cases at supermarkets and butchers alike, rotisserie chicken is one of the most popular meals in France. And it’s not hard to see why.
When Parisians don’t know what to make for dinner, a roast chicken always fits the bill. Store-bought or homemade, this is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Easy, delicious and affordable, roast chicken or poulet roti can served at just about any time. Plus, it can be paired with just about anything. A win-win in my book.
Of course if you have the time (and it’s not long or difficult I promise!), the homemade version will definitely win you a few more accolades. I love this recipe because it’s so versatile. Add in your fave veggies, herbs and seasonings and you’ve got your own signature dish!
I tend to prefer an herby, citrusy chicken so that’s what I’ve chosen to add in my recipe below. But feel free to change things up and incorporate whatever flavors you like!
Roast Chicken Recipe to Eat Like the Parisians from Home
1 Label Rouge chicken
Salt and Pepper
2 Large spoonfuls Herbes de Provence
1 Bulb of garlic
1 Butternut squash (if in season)
6 Small potatoes
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C or 400°F and place the rack on the lower half of the oven.
2. Roughly chop up veggies as you see fit, and reserve a few cloves of garlic. Then transfer the veggies to a large roasting dish and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
3. Melt the butter in a microwave safe container, and add to it the herbes de Provence, the reserved garlic cloves (minced) and a bit of lemon zest (optional), plus salt and pepper. Once the ingredients are all combined, drizzle a little over the veggies but save the rest for the chicken.
4. Place the chicken on top of the veggies, and brush with the butter mixture. Rub all over the chicken. Slice the lemons, and place them in the chicken’s cavity. You can also put sprigs of fresh herbs in too, if you have them.
5. Finally, put it all in the oven and cook for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check on the chicken and veg about halfway through the cooking time. Ensure the veggies aren’t burning, and turn the chicken over if desired.
6. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Once cooled, carve your Parisian-style roast chicken and enjoy!
3. Tarte aux Fruits – Fruit Tart
A fruit tart is one of the simplest and tastiest desserts you can make. And it’s decidedly a very Parisian treat. I love tarts because of how easy and versatile they are. If you use a little imagination, there are endless variations and possibilities.
The following tart recipe is one of my all-time favorites, and I think it will be one of yours too. I’ve chosen to use peaches and nectarines in this recipe, because I think stone fruits just work so well in a tart. All that fruity, jammy, summery goodness in a dessert? Count me in!
But as I mentioned, tarts are VERY versatile, so you can easily substitute your favorite fruits, or go for whatever is in season. Really let your imagination run wild. Got some figs? Plums? Berries? Pears? They all make excellent tarts.
Peach Fruit Tart Recipe to Eat Like the Parisians from Home
Note: I added some sage-infused brown butter to this tart, which completely elevated the flavors. This is easy to do but totally optional.
1 Refrigerated pastry crust (pâte sablée if you can get it, homemade is even better)
1.5kg Peaches and Nectarines (about 8 large fruits), washed, pitted and finely sliced. There’s no need to peel them.
2 Soup spoons of fruit jam/preserves of your choice (optional)
50g Brown sugar
3 Fresh sage leaves
100g of dried beans or lentils (to pre-cook the crust)
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C or 400°F. Remove the pastry crust from the fridge about 30 mins before using, so it will be room temperature.
2. Grease the bottom of a tart pan (I’ve found the ones with a removable bottom make serving easiest!) with butter and place your pastry crust inside. Make sure the crust is covering the sides too! Now prick the bottoms with a fork, and cover the crust with tin foil. Put the dried beans or lentils on top of the foil, and put the crust in the oven to cook for about 10-12 minutes. This helps the crust to cook evenly and to avoid a soggy mess later.
3. Remove the foil from crust, and discard lentils or save for later use. Spread the jam/preserves across the crust, if using. Now, arrange the fruit slices directly on the crust, however you’d like. Generally starting in the middle and working your way out is easiest. Sprinkle some lemon juice on the fruit to prevent browning.
4. Now that the fruit is all arranged nicely, it’s time to make the brown butter. (If you’re not using brown butter, skip directly to step 6). Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir regularly and make sure it doesn’t burn. The goal here is to get a golden brown, caramel like color to the butter. Once it’s started to brown, add in the sage leaves and stir; letting them infuse for a minute or two. Remove the brown butter from the heat and take out the sage leaves.
5. Drizzle the sage butter evenly over the tart, you don’t have to add everything if it seems over-saturated.
6. Finally, sprinkle the brown sugar generously over the entire tart. Finish with a tiny pinch of sea salt if desired. That’s it! The tart is ready to bake. Cook at 200°C for about 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is cooked. Let it cool and enjoy!
Now you have 3 recipes to eat like the Parisians from home. Hope you’ll enjoy and try your hand at some of these recipes!
See you soon in Paris and bon appétit!