The French put a lot of serious thought into food and dining all year round, but even more so during special occasions like Christmas and New Year. So if you:
- Want to infuse a little French inspiration into the holiday parties you’ll be hosting,
- Would love some special nibbles to enjoy during cozy nights at home, or
- Need to prepare a special dish to bring to a gathering,
…take a cue from the French and check out the ten mouth-watering recipes that we’ll be sharing in this article.
In a previous post, we have shared the ABCs of French Christmas and New Year celebrations, so to give yourself a background of the French Christmas traditions, better check that out as well. And to complete the whole holiday ambience, you can also watch some French Christmas films that the whole family can enjoy, or listen to these French Christmas songs that come with lyrics.
If that doesn’t put you into a thoroughly French mood, then these dishes most certainly will! Here are ten lovely French dishes that you can try out at home.
1. Pain d’epices
This traditional holiday treat literally translates to “spice bread” but is often known as gingerbread. Unlike its American counterparts, however, pain d’épice has loads of luscious honey in it, are baked in loaves, and then sliced into squares to be eaten on its own, with butter, or with foie gras.
Here is a classic recipe from FrenchFood.About.com
Do you need some holiday nibbles that you can readily serve up to guests who pop by for a quick hello? Or maybe you want some delicious snacks for quiet evenings at home? Gougères might be the answer to that.
Pronounced as goo-zhehr, this French equivalent of cheese puffs is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough that is mixed with cheese. There are several variants depending on the cheese or the ingredients used, with some even adding foie gras.
The best thing about this dish though is that you can prepare it in advance, or you can easily make them an hour or so before your event. Either way, your family and guests of all ages are sure to fall in love with these delightful munchies. Check out this simple recipe from SimpleBites.com. It makes use of common ingredients that you already have in your pantry like milk, butter, eggs, sugar, and flour, with the addition of gruyere cheese.
3. Oysters with White Wine
While some people might balk at the idea of having oysters for a Christmas occasion, think about it, why now try something different—and decadent—for appetizer this year? French people, especially Parisians, are quite enamoured with this succulent dish, and love to serve this as entrée (starters) during Le Reveillon.
But you don’t need to go downtown to some oyster bar or restaurant to get your fill of oysters. You can try whipping some up at the comforts of your own home with this special Roasted Oysters with White Wine recipe from Saveur. This recipe is super easy to do and only requires three ingredients: oysters, salt, and white wine.
4. Lobster Thermidor
Lobster also makes an appearance in French Christmas dinners, making the affair even more festive and delicious than it already is. There are several ways you can serve up lobster such as grilling it with butter and cognac, but a simple yet outstanding way to prepare is by whipping up a crowd favourite Lobster Thermidor. Check this simple recipe from cuisine-france.com.
5. Scallops (Coquilles Saint-Jacques)
You might have noticed a lot of seafoods making an appearance in this holiday dish list. That’s because in France, seafood dishes are quite the crowd-pleaser during special occasions in fêtes de fin d’année. Scallops are also a very popular Christmas dish especially since it’s in season around this time of the year. This particular recipe makes use of pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur from France which is often served as aperitif.
6. Roast goose
Different kinds of birds often make an appearance in traditional French dinners, but the goose is among those who lead the pack. As a great alternative to turkey, this festive roast goose recipe with chestnut, fruit and spices stuffing served with red wine gravy is sure to become a star on any table. Try out this flavorful dish with this recipe from FrenchEntree.com.
7. Stuffed Turkey with Chestnuts (Dinde farcie aux marrons)
Stuffed turkey is so much more common during Reveillon de Noël than goose or any other fowl, and you’ll usually find them stuffed with chestnuts. Try your hand at this traditional dish with this easy to follow recipe form LoveFrenchFood.com.
8. Duck breast (Magret de canard)
In the mood for something different from the usual turkey or goose? You can also try serving duck breast. This simple recipe from Chez Bonne Femme is clear and thoroughly explained, with suggestions on where to source out some quality magret de canard when you’re from the US. The recipe may be accessed from this link.
If you want a more visually appealing duck breast recipe infused with more flavour, you can check out this one which is cooked with honey, orange, and thyme (the dish in the photo above). The recipe is in French, so this could be a good way to practice your French. If not, Google translate has got your back this time.
9. bûche de Noël
The Yule Log or la bûche de Noël is a Christmas mainstay in every French home. This rolled cake pronounced boosh deh noel is decorated to resemble a log and often comes topped with meringue mushrooms, berries, or even some actual tree barks. This particular recipe we’re sharing today is inspired by the popular Parisian patisserie Ladurée. Now you don’t need to be in Paris to experience an authentic bûche de Noël in your own home.
Check out the article from Saveur in this link.
10. Candied Chestnuts
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire may be both loved as a song and as a snack, but here’s a step up from that Christmas treat: candied chestnuts!
This well-loved marron glacé is sure to be a big hit, like it is in France. But the awesome part is that you’ll only be needing a few ingredients: chestnuts (of course), sugar, and vanilla extract. Check out the recipe from French Food at about.com by clicking this link.
So, which food on this list do you want to try? Sound off in the comments section!
You might also want to share your favourite French recipe in the comments, too. Feel free to do so.