I believe I’ve shared with you that I adore and admire Jacques Pepin. Once or twice. Or maybe several dozen times but let’s not keep score, shall we? Why? First and foremost for the reason that I love any chef: his recipes work. It really all comes down to that. You can look like Eric Ripert but if you’re offering ill-conceived, untested, careless excuses for recipes I will fall madly out of love with you (but not you Eric – don’t worry!)
Beyond the dependable recipes, his classic French training combined with his wide-open mind makes him the perfect teacher. I always sense that he is equally enamored with the French foods of his childhood as he is with those of his adopted US. The fact that he grew up and trained in France only to come to America and work for 10 years at Howard Johnson’s — about as definitively American as a restaurant can be — explains a lot.
This book represents his 60 years of cooking, professionally and for friends and family. He wisely decided to update some of the older ones to make them accessible to the modern home cook as well as more palatable to contemporary tastes. He promises that he has accounted for the cooks who “enjoy the challenge of prepping everything from scratch” (hello me!) as well as the ones who “prefer to take full advantage of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, oven-ready roasts, washed spinach and salad greens, trimmed carrots, and the like” (me on other days!).
So let’s dive into some of the 700 of what Jacques calls “the recipes I love the most.”