Croissants and crepes may be delicious, but they’re not quite what someone means when they say you should try French cuisine. The rich flavors of France are responsible for delectable and unforgettable dishes, some more well-known than others. While you may be drawn to some of the more traditional options, there is a whole other menu of choices to focus on. Rather than stick to dishes that may sound familiar, why not expand your horizons and try any of these four lesser-known French dishes?
Not all French cuisine you’ve never heard of has to be filled with unusual ingredients. Cassoulet is such a simple recipe of few ingredients that it’s a surprise that it’s not better known. The soup base is often the deglazed leftovers of the cassoulet previously cooked in the pot, which help to keep the flavor strong.
What meat you add into your cassoulet is up to you, though to get the authentic experience, you’ll want white beans. Pork skin, pork sausage, goose, mutton, and duck are common proteins added to the soup to give it some substance. Cassoulet is the basis for the American casserole and was once a common and obtainable dish for peasant families. It may seem familiar, but you’ve never had a casserole like this.
Cheese is a staple in France, but you’re not here to try the same cheeses you can get at a supermarket in the United States. Raclette uses cheese as a base to create a dish that dates back to the end of the 13th century. It may have once been a dish of the peasants, but it’s a delight to snack on today.
Think of raclette as a form of fondue, except the cheese is partially melted in front of a fire and scraped off. You can change what you serve it with, but the traditional pairings include steamed potatoes, vegetables, and aged meats. Raclette originated in Switzerland, but the people of Savoie adopted it and made it fit well into French cuisine. It’s a social meal that has ingrained itself into French cuisine and is a safe choice for those unadventurous travelers.
Lapin A La Moutarde
Rabbit may not be a common delicacy in the United States, but the small critters are a common part of a French meal, and this French perfection passed down from the nation’s countryside utilizes the meat effectively for a taste that lingers.
Lapin a la moutarde essentially translates to rabbit with mustard. Though additional ingredients like white wine, shallots, thyme, and heavy cream are added to create a robust flavor, the two base elements are rabbit and dijon mustard. The grainy mustard has a powerful flavor, and it helps to elevate the mild taste of rabbit. It’s a simple dish to make and will help you bring the French countryside to your kitchen.
Canard Au Sang
Translated, this French staple may not have the best name to entice someone unfamiliar with the concept. In English, it means “pressed duck,” a 19th-century dish that uses as much of the duck as possible to create a complexity of flavors.
To start preparation for “canard au sang,” a plump duck is asphyxiated to ensure blood retention. The whole duck is partially roasted before the liver is removed to be ground, and its legs and breasts are portioned off. Before serving, the remainder of the duck is pressed to extract its blood and bone marrow, two ingredients used in the presentation of the dish.
Duck parts are then presented in a sauce of its blood and bone marrow, which is typically mixed with the liver, cognac, and butter. “Canard au sang” is a delicate recipe that’s best enjoyed in the heart of Paris, at a restaurant like the Tour d’Argent.