Jacques Pépin is one of the pioneers in the food world who has helped teach America how to cook. He brought classic French dishes to life, often cooking besides other luminaries like Julia Child, deftly slicing and dicing away without even looking down at his hands while he chatted with his guests or talked to us through the camera.
To understand just how truly influential Jacques has been, I've seen seasoned food editors jump at the chance to meet him, eager to chat with someone who they've found so inspirational in their careers. I confess to being one of them!
How Jacques Cooks at Home
So how does someone who's cooked huge state dinners for the heads of France cook at home in Connecticut? In his trademark casual and humorous way, he shared that it's really all about simplicity and food that just tastes good. The way he talks about food is without pretension. He uses the ingredients he has on hand and says that dinner at home doesn't have to be multi-course or complicated. When his granddaughter is visiting, she helps out in the kitchen, where everyone congregates.
Dinner with Jacques
Jacques' supper table probably doesn't look that different from many of ours. He makes salmon, pasta, chicken, soup, and pork chops, all with ingredients we can find in the supermarket, not some high-end specialty grocer. The recipes he shared are all comforting, easy to put together, and family friendly.
Turns out that channeling Jacques Pépin at your dinner table isn't all that hard, especially if you make sure that everyone also has a glass of wine. Santé!
5 Easy Suppers from Jacques Pépin
Your Meal Plan
- The marinade can be made up to three days ahead. The fish can be marinated overnight.
- Start by cooking the rice and bok choy while the broiler is heating up, then finish by broiling the salmon.
- Plan on buying and cooking extra salmon if you want to use it for Wednesday's pasta gratin.
- All the vegetables, except the potatoes, can be prepared up to a day ahead.
- The stew can be made a few days ahead and actually will tastes better as it sits. Don't add the peas or parsley until right before serving.
- Make the salad while the stew is cooking or reheating.
- Heat the oven and start by cooking the pasta.
- While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta cooks, wilt the spinach and make the sauce.
- Cut the leeks while the potatoes are cooking (the leeks can also be cut a day or two ahead).
- The dinner rolls can be made ahead of time and frozen.
- The rice cakes can be ground and stored in an airtight container up to five days ahead. The pork can be pounded thin up to two days ahead.
- The butter beans for the broccolini can be cooked up to two days ahead.
- Cook the pork chops and keep warm in a low oven. Make the sauce and keep warm on the stove.
- Make the broccolini with butter beans.
Your Shopping List
This list reflects just the ingredients for the main dishes; please see individual recipes for the ingredients for the optional side dishes.
To buy at the store:
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets (ask your fish monger to remove the skin)
- 8 to 10 ounces salmon for the pasta gratin (or buy canned tuna or salmon)
- 4 boneless pork loin steaks or chops (about 6 ounces each)
- 4 chicken legs (about 2 3/4 pounds)
- 2 1/2 ounces lean pancetta
- 2 tablespoons red miso paste
- 12 ounces spinach
- 12 small red potatoes (about 8 ounces)
- 2 carrots
- 8 small baby bella or cremini mushrooms (about 5 ounces)
- 1 large leek
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 cup frozen baby peas
- 12 fresh or frozen small pearl onions (about 4 ounces)
- Fresh parsley (3 tablespoons chopped)
- Fresh cilantro or chives (2 tablespoons chopped)
- Fresh thyme (1 sprig)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3/4 cup fruity dry white wine
- 1/3 cup Bloody Mary mix
- 6 ounces dried farfalle (bow tie) pasta
- 4 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese (optional)
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 rice cakes (about 1 ounce total), 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs, or 1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
From your pantry (check to make sure you have enough):
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons tamari or dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
- 4 1/2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Black pepper