Which Bonne Femme Recipe Should I Try First?

Chicken-Comté Salad. Hearty fall salad; great with a fall soup. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

Yes! The Bonne Femme Cookbook is out, and if you pre-ordered from Amazon, it shipped and it should be on its way to you. In fact, some people have already told me they received it. (If you want to order one, as of today, they still have six left in stock. Go here.)

Some readers have asked what recipes they should try first. Well, I suggest you follow the lead from one reader, Karen from Philadelphia, who said, “I have read your introduction, and like any good bonne femme, I’m picking my first recipes to try based on what I already have in my kitchen: Chicken breasts. Pork roasts.”

Karen, that’s exactly what I suggest! Here are some of my favorite recipes for either. Recipes that are underlined are on this site—just click to view. All other recipes are in the book:

1. Chicken Francese: I love this classic lemony-garlicky dish. The Italians, for some reason, give the French credit for it, but it would be at home in either country. My version calls on chicken breasts dredged in flour and sautéed, then finished with about a five-minute pan sauce of wine, lemon juice, garlic, and some butter. Other versions have you coat the breasts in egg before dredging in flour, but I like it better without that eggy side to the dish: The crazy-good, sprightly-bright lemon-wine-garlic edge really shines through.

Chicken Nouvelle Veronique. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

2. Chicken Calvados: A great autumn dish with sauteed chicken breasts. Add shallots. Deglaze the pan with Calvados or apple brandy (or use the option of apple cider and white wine), and finish with just a touch of heavy cream and fresh chives.

3. Chicken Nouvelle Veronique. You saute the chicken breasts; add shallots. Deglaze the pan with wine and broth and finish with a touch of balsamic vinegar, honey, and grapes.

With any of the above recipes, I beg you to try the Any-Night Baked Rice. It’s just a wonderful side dish. Get the rice cooking before you start the rest of the meal.

5. Chicken, Comté, and Spinach Salad with Apples: For a fun weekend lunch or a light dinner, roast the chicken breasts and serve them in a spinach salad with Comté cheese and apples. Great with a good soup, such as Roasted Vegetable Soup Maison, a pureed soup of roasted veggies, garlic, chicken broth and some French flavorings.

Now, onto the pork recipes:

1. Pork  Medallions with Apricot-Sage Sauce: Cut pork tenderloin into medallions; saute. Add shallots and deglaze the pan with chicken broth, white wine. Add apricot preserves and fresh sage leaves. If you’ve never tasted apricot and sage together, you’re in for a “wow.” This recipe also works beautifully with pork chops.

2. Roast Pork with Honey-Cider Vinegar à l’Ancienne: Roast a pork loin over a bed of onions, carrots, and garlic. Use the veggies—with apple cider and honey—to create a deeply flavored sweet-tart sauce.

Enjoy! I’d love to hear from people and find out what you’re making from the book—or any questions you have about the recipes. Post here, or contact me directly.


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4 comments to Which Bonne Femme Recipe Should I Try First?

  • Greg

    I am waiting on my book to arrive and wondering… is there a every day bread recipe in it? Do you make your own bread? Bread machine a good thing or not needed? The process of bread making has always escaped me… I have taken classes- no-knead, etc- but I still long for a loaf (whole wheat/flax meal,walnuts maybe?) that I can make in a loaf pan and have as morning toast or tartine (spelling ?). WWWD – What Would Wini Do?
    Thanks! Greg

  • Wini

    Make my own bread? Every little once in a while. I like to make homemade dinner rolls for holidays, and I do make my own pizza crusts and foccacia. But loaf breads? Rarely ever. I just can’t compete with the really good artisan bakers we have, even in Des Moines.

    For the cookbook (and in my cooking life), I mostly followed the Bonne Femme’s lead–French cooks rarely make their own breads—they have great boulangeries in every town and every neighborhood in a big city. One of the pleasures of my summer life is getting up in the morning and going to the bread baker for the morning’s croissants and the day’s baguette….then stopping at the Tabac (newstore) for a Herald Tribune. I swear that’s one reason why French women don’t get fat: They have to walk every day for their daily bread!

    Don’t you have a good bread baker near you? (Oh, I guess not….you’re in the country, aren’t you!?)

    I wish I could help here. I will say that if you are just a beginner at baking bread, you won’t go wrong with the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. They have a good bread chapter that will tell you everything you need to know. I know there are countless great cookbooks out there for hobby bread-bakers, but I can’t say I own one! 🙂

  • I’m not a big bread-baker, either, but there’s a nice, quick “everyday” recipe in Mark Bittman’s FOOD MATTERS that you might want to check out, Greg. There are also some good “take and bake” breads in the grocery stores that you can keep in your freezer, if you don’t have access to a great bakery. Can’t wait for my BONNE FEMME COOKBOOK to arrive!

  • Greg

    Thanks! I have the Better Homes… book- will check that chapter out. We do have good bread in Decorah, Iowa – some new small bakers showing up at the farmers market and at the local coop. They have a ww sourdough that I really like. I have to pay more but it is about quality not cheaper quantity- right?
    I think that is another reason for those slim Parisians.

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