4 Classic French Recipes you Should Know

4 Classic French Recipes you Should Know

Master the classics of French cuisine with The Complete Book of French Cooking by Hubert Delorme and Vincent Boué, a book described by the legendary chef Paul Bocuse as “an invaluable kitchen companion”.


Serves 8 • Preparation 10 minutes • Cooking I hour


  • 1 1/4 lb (600 g) large onions
  • 3 tablespoons (50 g) butter
  • 10 cups (2 litres) clear white stock
  • I bouquet garni
  • 16 slices of baguette, toasted to make croutons
  • 5 oz (140 g) grated Gruyère cheese
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fine salt, freshly ground pepper


  1. Peel, wash and slice the onions. Sweat them in butter.
  2. Add the light white stock, the bouquet gami, and the kosher salt and simmer for 45 minutes to I hour.
  3. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Set your oven to broil.
  4. Pour the broth into individual ovenproof bowls. Place two croutons in each bowl of soup and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  5. Place the bowls of soup carefully in the oven and let them remain there until a gratin crust forms on top. Serve immediately.

Chef’s note:

It’s the quality of the clear stock that will determine the final taste of the soup. Adding a slice of bacon when you begin cooking will bring a pleasant rustic taste to your dish.

Onion soup, © Clay McLachlan


Serves 8 • Preparation 35 minutes • Cooking 2 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 lb (500 g) beef ribs (US) or fore/thin ribs(UK)
  • 2 lb (1 kg) beef chuck (US) or chuck and blade (UK)
  • 1 tablespoon (20 g) kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 lb (600 g) marrow bones
  • 1 1/4 lb (600 g) potatoes
  • 1 1/4 lb (600 g) carrots
  • 1 lb (400 g) zucchini (courgettes)
  • Fleur de sel
  • French mustard
  • Aromatic ingredients
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 carrot
  • Green leaf of 1 leek
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 6-8 peppercorns


  1. Trim the meat, leaving each piece whole.
  2. Prepare the aromatic ingredients. Peel and wash the onion and carrot. Wash the leek green. Cut the vegetables in two and push the cloves into the onions near the base.
  3. Place the pieces of meat in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Remove the meat immediately and transfer the pieces to another pot. Cover them with cold water. Add all the aromatic ingredients and put in the kosher salt. Bring to a boil, tum down the heat, and simmer for 2½ hours.Thirty minutes before the time is up, add the marrow bones. Remove the aromatic ingredients and adjust the seasoning.
  4. Wash, peel, and rinse the potatoes and carrots. Wash the zucchini. Shape the vegetables into regular oval egg shapes weighing about 2-2½ oz (50-60 g) per piece. Take 4 cups (1 litre) of the cooking liquid and cook the vegetables in it separately for just the time required for each. 5 Serve the vegetables with the meat, and the broth in a tureen or vegetable dish. Accompany with fleur de sel and French mustard in small dishes.

Chef’s note

Use other types of meat besides beef, like pork and veal. You may even try fresh, cured, or smoked meats. If you opt for this kind of variation, don’t cook the meats together. Choose your vegetables according to the seasons. Every European country has its own version of this boiled dish. The pot-au-feu, the hearty winter meal par excellence, is a one-pot dish comprising of broth, meat, and vegetables, and leftover meat may be eaten cold, reheated, or minced to make a pie.

Pot-au-feu, © Clay McLachlan


Serves 6 • Preparation 25 minutes • Cooking 20 minutes • Special equipment: oval frying pan


  • 6 trout weighing about ½ lb (250 g) each
  • 1 cup (100 g) flour
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) clarified butter
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) salted butter
  • 1 cup (4 oz/100 g) sliced almonds Juice of I lemon
  • ½ bunch parsley, chopped
  • Fine salt, freshly ground pepper


  1. Dress the trout and be sure to dry them well, dabbing up all excess moisture with paper towel.
  2. Spread out the flour in a conveniently sized flat dish and season it. Dip the trout in to coat it and shake it lightly to remove any excess flour.
  3. Heat an oval non-stick pan with the clarified butter over low to medium heat. Place the trout in the pan and gently brown them. Tum over and brown lightly on the other side.
  4. Check for doneness (the flesh should come away easily from the bone) and, if necessary place them in the oven at 325°F-350°F (160°C-170°C) for a few minutes to complete cooking.
  5. Remove the skin.
  6. Melt some butter in a small pan until it is brown (beurre noisette). Gently sauté the sliced almonds in the butter and deglaze with the lemon juice.
  7. Arrange the trout on a large, flat serving platter, heads to the left.
  8. Drizzle with the butter-almond mixture and scatter with chopped parsley.

Trout with almonds © Clay McLachlan


Serves 8 • Preparation 25 minutes • Chilling I hour minimum • Cooking 10 minutes


  • ½ lb (250 g) dark chocolate, 64% cacao, chopped
  • 5½ tablespoons (80 g) butter, cubed
  • 3 eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 2 oz (30 g) chocolate sprinkles, for garnish


  1. Melt the chopped chocolate and the cubed butter in a bain-marie to a temperature of 122°F (50°C). Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the three egg yolks until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Leave to cool to about 82°F (28°C).
  3. Start whisking the six egg whites. When they start to form firm peaks, add the sugar and whisk until shiny and compact. Carefully fold the meringue mixture into the chocolate-butter mixture using a rubber spatula. Take care not to deflate the mixture by breaking the air bubbles.
  4. Spoon the mousse into a piping bag and pipe into ramekins or shot glasses (verrines). Chill for at least I hour, until set.
  5. Gamish with chocolate sprinkles.


Mousses practically disappeared from classic French cuisine toward the end of the 18th century, only to reappear with the advent of nouvelle cuisine. There was one notable exception: the chocolate mousse, probably the most popular of all French desserts.

Chocolate mousse, © Clay McLachlan

The Complete Book Of French Cooking cover © Clay McLachlan

Extracted from The Complete Book of French Cooking by Hubert Delorme and Vincent Boué (Flammarion, 2023).

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  •  Patricia Hacker
    2024-01-03 08:26:43
    Patricia Hacker
    the pot au feu cannot have 14 lb of the vegetables, several times over. What is it 1 lb ? or ?


    • Sophie Gardner-Roberts
      2024-01-05 09:27:21
      Sophie Gardner-Roberts
      You are right of course, it's 1 1/4 lb of vegetables. Our apologies!