10 Pro Home Cooks on the Julia Child Recipe They Wish More People Knew
Even though we all know and love Julia Child, she produced so many tried-and-true recipes over the years that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. To take a deeper look at the breadth of the recipes she left us, we chatted with 10 smart pro home cooks who have cooked their way through a whole lot of her dishes.
Here are the — often undersung! — Julia Child recipes they’ve come to love the most.
When a smart, seasoned home cook speaks, we listen. We chatted with some of our favorite bloggers, cookbook authors, and food people who are all home cooks to get the scoop on their favorite recipes, cooking techniques, kitchen utensils, and more.
1. French Dressing
I have learned so much from so many Julia Child recipes, but it’s one of her most basic recipes that I find most useful and have tried to teach others over the years. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, it’s her very basic, but very wonderful, chapter on vinaigrettes that I love. So many Americans still buy salad dressing, which seems silly!
Her basic Oil and Vinegar sauce (Sauce Vinaigrette/French Dressing) on page 94 is so versatile and useful. I love all the variations in the following pages contained within that chapter.
Kathy Gunst, Food Writer, @kathygunst
2. Quiche Lorraine
While many of Julia’s recipes seem more like “projects” than everyday fare, her Quiche Lorraine recipe is one for the ages that can work at any time of day, be made ahead and refrigerated and reheated (or not), and utilizes a few simple techniques and ingredients for a stunning dish. My well-loved copy of the recipe resides in my kitchen handbook, Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes From a Lifetime of Cooking. (My edition has it on page 93.) What I love best about the recipe and book, though, is that it offers very straightforward and simple instructions with notes and elaborations on how to adapt and extend the recipe. That layout and user-friendliness proves why Julia was the mistress of home cooking — no one does it quite like she did. Her Quiche Lorraine recipe is one every home cook should visit often.
3. Upside-Down Martini
My favorite Julia recipe isn’t a food recipe, but rather her favorite après-dinner drink. The Upside-Down Martini (sometimes called a Reverse Martini) flips the idea of a booze-forward cocktail on its head by making dry vermouth the heavyweight of the drink. This switch in the vermouth-to-gin ratio (JC preferred it in a five-to-one formula) fashions a drink that’s low ABV, delicious, and especially ideal as a pre-dinner apéritif. Julia said, “The best thing about a Reverse Martini is that you can have two of them,” and she’s right. Another best thing is that you can serve this martini on the rocks and in any glass that isn’t a standard, ergonomically flawed martini glass.
4. Chicken Waterzooi
5. CrêpesMy favorite Julia recipe is for crêpes. I first tackled crepes in ninth grade when I promised to make them for my high school French club, and then turned to Julia’s recipe to teach myself how to make good on my promise. A few days later, I cranked out Crêpes Suzette for around 30 people (on a hotplate in a classroom, no less.) I continue to use her recipe all these many years later. Crêpes always feel fancy, but are made from pantry basics — and the technique, once mastered, is foolproof.
6. Coq au Vin
Her Coq au Vin never cuts corners, but that’s why it’s so good: searing the chicken, flaming the Cognac, thickening with a butter-flour paste at the end, and mushrooms cooked separately so they have deep, browned flavors and don’t turn to mush. Each step is beautifully French and makes a difference.
Christine Gallary, Food Editor-at-Large, @cgallary
7. Lemon-Oil Dressing
My favorite Julia Child recipe is a really simple one — Julia’s Lemon-Oil Dressing in Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. I use it on salads and steamed vegetables. It’s basically a classic French vinaigrette with lemon juice instead of vinegar, so the flavor is fresh and bright. She instructs you to emulsify the dressing with a lot of whisking, but when I’m feeling lazy I’ll just shake everything up in a jar, or use an immersion blender instead!
8. Chicken Liver Mousse
This seems a bit strange, but it’s her Chicken Liver Mousse. I made it for the first time six years ago. It was the first time I had ever worked with chicken livers, but that’s what I admire most about Julia: She takes something that can be a bit intimidating and makes it not only approachable, but she also gives you permission to fail because she goofs and blunders herself all the time.
With this recipe I didn’t fail. It was the most luxuriously smooth chicken liver paté I’ve ever add. It was lightly seasoned with thyme and Cognac and not stingy with the cream. Its success has so much to do with Julia’s dedication to the success of home cooks and her friendly voice that anticipates our fears and trepidations. She’s an absolute legend for a reason.
She’s a friend in the kitchen pushing you to try new foods, techniques, and recipes, but if things don’t go according to plan she’d be the first one to pour the wine.
9. Boeuf Bourguignon
My favorite Julia Child recipe is her Boeuf Bourguignon. It’s not at all unknown, sure, but hear me out: This recipe is the ultimate backdrop for New England fall. I usually make it with my SO on chilly weekend trips up to the Berkshires, and as it simmers for hours on end, we’ll make a fire, embark on a jigsaw puzzle, uncork another bottle (or two) of red wine, and let the house gradually fill up with the smell of caramelized onions. Truth be told, I was gifted a Le Creuset Dutch oven one Christmas just because I love making this particular recipe so often.
10. Reine de Saba
I’ve been making this cake for decades and it never fails to delight and impress. I love how the almond and chocolate flavors enhance each other, but what really makes it special is the rich, fudgy middle which is achieved by slightly under-baking it.