About this time every year, when things slow down a bit, I ramp up my cooking by trying out new recipes. This time around, I decided to go through my book “Art of the Chicken,” by Jacques Pépin. The book shares recipes with chicken or eggs as the main ingredients, along with his fanciful, colorful paintings of every breed of chicken you can imagine. I began with an appetizer named for Jacques’ maman, Jeannette. (My friend and co-editor of Edible Vineyard magazine, Tina Miller, is growing slightly concerned about my infatuation with the other French chef.)
One of the things I really enjoy about this book is that he tells the stories behind the recipes, and then, rather than a list of measured ingredients, he just explains how to prepare the dish in a paragraph format.
This dish, Eggs Jeannette, has a very simple recipe, like a lot of the dishes I enjoy making — the easier, the better. It’s a unique spin on deviled eggs, but one my family really enjoyed.
First off, I hard-boiled the eggs the way Jacques prescribed — boil them for exactly seven minutes, then turn off the heat and leave them alone. (Maybe this will be the off-season when I learn the secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs, because that skill still eludes me.) I cooked six eggs, and while that was happening, I diced fresh parsley (a good handful) and three cloves of garlic together. (This makes a sort of parsley/garlic mash called “persillade.”) Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, and remove the yolks. Then you mash the yolks, mix them with the persillade, add salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of milk (I had to disagree here, and used mayo), then spoon the filling back into the eggs. Another thing his dear maman did that I did not do was to then fry them, open-face side down, in a skillet with a little butter or oil. Jacques writes, “They browned beautifully after a couple of minutes. To complete the dish, she topped the eggs with a sauce made from the yolk mixture she reserved, along with Dijon-style mustard, peanut oil, and a dribble of vinegar.” Seriously, only a French chef could elevate deviled eggs to this level. Sigh.
Next time I’ll tell you how he bakes chicken breast slathered in mayonnaise. The love affair continues.