Rich, hearty dishes don’t necessarily come to mind when you think about France's refined cuisine. But the French have a mouth-watering array of stomach filling dishes for winter, albeit with a couple of them pinched from Switzerland.
Here are ten of the best winter dishes from France and links to recipes if you fancy trying to cook them.
[Canal Gourmandises Paris]
Pot-au-feu is a mouthwatering stew of different kinds of meat, marrow bones and root vegetables. Preparation is easy but the stew needs to cook on low heat for quite some time. The meat, veggies and broth are served in separate dishes, accompanied by horseradish, spicy Dijon mustard and pickled gherkins. The bone marrow is spread on to toasted pieces of bread, but this may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
French onion soup is well known outside of France, and with good reason. It’s easy to make and it’ll definitely warm you up when it’s cold outside. There are a few different, but equally delicious, variations on the recipe. Some suggest a slice of bread on top while others are gratinéed to create a crusty layer of cheese.
If you’re a fan of mashed potato then you’re going to love aligot, a speciality from the Aubrac region. Blend the mash with cream, cheese, butter and garlic until you’ve achieved a perfectly smooth texture. Cheese from the region is normally used, such as Tomme d’Auvergne or Tomme de Laguiole but if you can’t get your hands on that then mozzarella or cheddar work fine too.
The Alsace region bordering Germany is famous for rich dishes. Backoeffe is a type of stew with cubes of mutton, beef and pork which are marinated overnight and then slow-cooked with vegetables in a casserole.
It would be impossible to survive an Alpine winter without this famous dish from the Savoie region. It’s easy to make, delicious and the best way to refuel after a long day on the slopes. Pick from a variety of cheeses including Comté, Beaufort, Emmental, Appenzell or Gruyere.
This hearty meat dish is one of the most famous recipes of the Burgundy region and is well known outside France too. It’s prepared with cuts of beef, onions, carrots, celery and pancetta. To stay true to the recipe’s origins, use a Burgundy red wine for the marinade and the sauce.
Another delicious winter dish out of the Savoie region, tartiflette is a potato gratin with onions and bacon covered in melted Reblochon cheese. Make sure to work up a proper appetite before digging into this dish or you'll be full after just a few bites.
Cassoulet is a stew from the Languedoc region made with beans, meat and sausages. It takes a while both to prepare and to cook but the result is definitely worth it and will be a big hit on a cold winter night.
Choucroute garnie is another Alsatian specialty. It's similar to German Sauerkraut except that it’s cooked in wine. Topped with ham hocks, bacon, onions and apples, it makes for a tasty and filling dish.
Gratin dauphinois is a rich and creamy potato gratin from the historic Dauphiné region in the south east. It’s a bit of a calorie bomb because of all the cream but that's what makes it so tasty. Traditionally, the gratin is made with just milk, cream and potatoes but many recipes suggest putting cheese in as well.
*Raclette: A few of you, in fact hordes of you, are probably wondering why Raclette is not on this list. It's not that this dish featuring melted Raclette cheese, accompanied by cold meats and potatoes (usually) is not hearty enough to make the top 10, it's more that we have it on good authority that its origins are actually Swiss, even though it's synonymous with France now. Hence the reason we thought it best not to include it in this list.
But here's a pic anyway to whet your appetite:
What else would you add to this list?