A well-stocked pantry is the secret behind creating exquisite French meals that tantalize the taste buds and transport you to the charming streets of Paris or the rustic countryside of Provence.
In this guide, tailored for the kitchens of American women eager to embrace the art of French cooking, we’ll delve into the must-have ingredients that form the backbone of French gastronomy. From fragrant herbs and aromatic oils to flavorful sauces and specialty condiments, let’s uncover the key elements that bring the flavors of France right into your home kitchen.
Here are some of the key French pantry essentials:
- Butter – high-fat French butters like Beurre d’Isigny are common for baking and cooking. Butter is used more liberally in French cuisine than other cuisines.
- Shallots and garlic – used often as a flavor base for sauces, soups, stews. Essential aromatic ingredients.
- Dijon mustard – adds a sharp, spicy kick and flavor to vinaigrettes, sauces and stews. A very traditional French ingredient.
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil – used for dressings, sauces, etc. French olive oil tends to be more peppery and grassy than others.
- Cornichons – tart, crispy little French pickles often served with pâtés, cold cuts and French sandwiches.
- Herbs – bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, chervil, parsley are often used dried or fresh to flavor dishes. Herbes de Provence is a staple!
- Wine/wine vinegar – integral component in sauces like coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon. White wine vinegar common in vinaigrettes.
- Crème fraîche – cultured cream used often in sauces instead of heavy cream. Adds tang and richness.
- Flours – wheat flour, but also chestnut flour for a nutty flavor in some items.
- Stocks – chicken, veal or beef broths used for simmering dishes add lots of flavor. Sold in cubes or cans.
The French really focus on quality ingredients and building layers of flavor in their cooking. Having these basics on hand facilitates that process.