We’re great enthusiasts of classic French brasserie cuisine; the perfect blend of hearty food and convivial company in a relaxed setting. In fact, we love it so much that we run our own boutique brasserie, La Petite Bouchée. However, since we’re based in the UK, we can’t reach everybody – so why not invest in some cutting-edge kitchen equipment so that you can indulge in a petite brasserie experience chez vous?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lot of expensive kitchenware to cook good French food – this isn’t molecular gastronomy, just good, honest cooking with the best natural ingredients. So here are some of the essentials of what the French call la batterie de cuisine – if any of these catch your fancy you should take advantage of great deals at Groupon to stock up.
The French value quality over quantity when it comes to cuisine, and this extends to kitchenware. Rather than having several blunt knives which you never get around to chucking out and replacing, a sharp kitchen knife is an essential basic. Indeed, you should have, as a minimum, a chef’s knife and paring knife, and a sharpening steel to ensure they don’t get blunt. A serrated bread knife is also popular, as are knives from Japan, which are renowned for their precision.
Pots and pans are essential in every kitchen, and one of the most popular in France is the cocotte. This is simply a round or oval cooking pot made from cast iron or stove-resistant ceramic, perfect for slow-cooked stews and meats.
We would also highly recommend picking up a few of the following:
- Sautè Pan: Invaluable for everything from sautèing meats and glazing vegetables to poaching eggs
- Strainer: Strainers are so much better for preserving the original flavour, texture and nutrients of food than the barbaric British method of boiling.
- Copper Bowl: Not strictly speaking an essential, but they’re just such beautiful objects, and can even transform whipping egg whites into a joy.
- Rasp Grater: A stainless steel microplane rasp grater is cheap, efficient, and funto use. Whether you’re grating Parmesan cheese or zesting citrus, fruits, they’re a godsend.
- Frying Pans:Whatever their size, frying pans always come in handy – what French kitchen would be complete without a crêpe pan?
- Earthenware Roasting Pan: Again, not strictly speaking an essential, but so much more preferable to the glass or metal variety, as they roast beautifully, acquire a patina over the years, and are supremely easy to clean.
- Parchment Paper: Parchment paper is essential to the classic French technique of cooking enpapillote, which is one of the best ways to cook fish, and always looks impressive when served. Parchment paper is also a staple for baking, another aspect of cooking that the French have raised to the level of art.
- Baking Equipment:The French rolling pin is a classic staple of British comedy, but you really should have one in your kitchen. The French love tarts, whether sweet or savoury, and a tart pan – perhaps with fluted edges – is a great buy.
Whatever you choose, you’re bound to improve your culinary experience and have more fun in the kitchen – bon appétit!