10 Must-Try Essential French Dishes

There are many dishes that are considered part of French national cuisine today. A meal often consists of three courses, hors d'œuvre or entrée (introductory course, sometimes soup), plat principal (main course), fromage (cheese course) or dessert, sometimes with a salad offered before the cheese or dessert. The focus of its cuisine has been simplicity, developed as a reaction against medieval reliance on spices; instead of possessing a sharp or sugary taste, its dishes contained butter, herbs and sauces based on meat juices to create a rich, smooth flavor.

While it can sometimes depend on your taste, overall, French cooking can easily be seen as being one of the best cuisines in the world. It's traditional, yet modern and is bold in its culinary experiments. It doesn't waste food, but rather comes up with new recipes to incorporate old ingredients. Are you an adventurous eater? Are you a Francophile who loves French cuisine? Do you love French classics? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we have a list of French dishes that you must try!

1. Moules Marinieres

Often called mussels and fries, this dish is a favorite for fans of Julia Child. Mussels steamed in a white wine and butter sauce pair with crispy, tender French fries fresh out of the oven. Some recipes swap garlic toast for French fries, but the overall satisfaction is the same.

2. Confit de Canard

Confit de Canard, or duck confit, requires a bit of preparation time, but for an adventurous eater, the extra time is worth it. Duck legs are covered in spices and marinated for up to two days before cooking.

The first step in cooking duck confit is to begin with a short frying session in its own fat before a low and slow four hour bake. This rich duck dish is a popular delicacy in France.

3. Poulet Basquaise

Basque-style chicken originates in the southwestern region of France. The stew-style meal combines chicken, peppers and tomatoes in a slow-cooked meal that satisfies. This is simple French comfort food at its best.

4. Gigot d'Agneau

A simple, filling meal, Gigot de Agneau, or roasted leg of lamb, is a flavorful, classic dish. Stuffed with garlic and rubbed with rosemary, oil, salt and pepper, this is another simple and classic dish.

5. Bouillabaisse

This Provencal fish stew was made popular in the French city of Marseilles. It’s common to find that recipes for this dish have multiple layers. For example, chef Emeril Lagasse includes a Rouille and crusty bread alongside the fish stew. The Rouille includes red pepper, garlic, white bread torn into chunks, lemon and olive oil.

The Bouillabaise combines tomato, leeks, fennel, garlic and assorted fresh white fish, in addition to mussels, littleneck clams, lobster and angler fish. After the bouillabaisse is finished, chefs serve it with the crusty bread and Rouille on the side.

6. Tartiflette

Potatoes, cheese, lardons (also known as pork fat) and onions. When combined, what could be closer to comfort food? This dish comes from the Haute Savoie region of France. This dish was first prepared in the 1700s and over time, substitutions have been introduced. Some recipes substitute smoked salmon for the lardons, but the substitution doesn’t take anything away from this dish.

7. Coq au Vin

This dish, with a name that translates as “rooster or cock with wine” Coq au Vin is a simple dish of chicken braised in red wine, with onions, bacon slices, garlic and mushrooms. One of Julia Child’s French classics, this dish has taken on a life of its own and cooks have substituted a variety of items over the years. A popular substitution is to use morel mushrooms instead of button mushrooms, others substitute champagne for the red wine.

8. Escargots

When you hear escargot, what is your first thought? Snails? That’s exactly what it is. This French delicacy is often served as an appetizer in restaurants and homes. The snails used in this dish are land snails, and the snails are typically served in the shells.

9. Boeuf Bourguignon

Julia Child made this dish famous. Boeuf Bourguignon, or Beef Bourguignon or Beef Burgundy, comes from the Burgundy area of France. The beef in this classic dish is served with potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and, sometimes, carrots. Over the years, Julia created this dish multiple times on her famous cooking show.

10. Boudin Noir Aux Pommes

Boudin Noir Aux Pommes, also known as black pudding with apples or blood sausage with apples, is a hearty, filling dish that screams fall in France. If the idea of blood sausage doesn’t turn you away, this dish is a delicious and easy to prepare. Boudin noir has a history in France that spans 2,000 years, according to some sources.  

In preparation, the sausages are sautéed in oil to brown, then transferred to another pan while the apples are cooked in the fat and Calvados wine. After apples have softened a bit, cream is mixed into the apple and sauce mixture, which is served alongside the sausage.

Are your heart and stomach speaking French already? Then head over to France and plan your French culinary field trip with Trekeffect!

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