Food writer Lou Groccia turns to Jacques Pepin for inspiration

Friday, May 04, 2018

I’ve been cooking out of the “Essential Pepin” cookbook for a couple of weeks now and I must admit this French guy Jacques Pepin knows how to cook.

I started off making a wonderful lamb shank and white bean stew. The combination is a classic and Pepin takes you through the recipe so you can apply it to most any meat that needs long and slow cooking. Pepin recommends using dried beans that have soaked overnight before cooking; they’ll give the dish a depth of flavor you won’t get with canned beans.

This Pepin cookbook combines the best 700 recipes he’d collected over the years with many coming from his “La Methode”and “La Technique” tomes. I use “Essential Pepin” as a reference book as well as a place to find great recipes.

Speaking of great recipes, one of his methods to poach salmon is one I want everyone to commit to memory.

Here goes: Bring 3 cups of water to a low boil in a saucepan. Place 4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets in the pan. About 6 ounces per steak. Return to low boil. This should take two minutes tops. Cover the pan and remove from the heat. Wait five minutes. Remove salmon, pat dry and serve with your favorite sauce.

Think you can remember that?

The salmon turns out just perfectly. Tender and moist.

I served it with a ravigote sauce that Pepin suggests. This easy-to-prepare, uncooked sauce is made with tomatoes, scallions, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and pickled capers.

I told you the guy can cook. I mean, he used to hang around with Julia Child, who could also cook, from what I hear.


Jacques is a very close personal friend of mine. Well, at least he signed my copy of “Essential Pepin” at a book signing, on a very hot day where everyone nearly got heat stroke in the parking lot behind Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. That should count for something.