Essential Pepin

April 8th, 2013

Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin is a great comprehensive cookbook for the home cook.

This is an enormous cookbook as it should be since Jacques Pepin has aimed to cook down and encapsulate his entire career with it. I’ve been a fan of Pepin’s for years. I first got to know him as many did — through his televised PBS cooking series with Julia Child — Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. I love how at ease they are with one another. Jacques prefers black pepper, Julia prefers white and they bicker about it on camera. You get their character and humor unlike a lot of today’s highly groomed food television folks. I also really enjoyed reading Pepin’s The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. If you’re looking for an engaging read that takes you through the learning and becoming of a chef read it. It’s such a good book.

I’d been talking about how I wanted Essential Pepin, which came out in fall 2011, for awhile and then one day out of the blue my ex-boyfriend’s mom sent it to me in the mail. Love her. Here are some of the things that I’ve cooked from it…

The first dish I made from Essential Pepin is the chicken diable and it turned out great -- pan seared chicken with a red wine vinegary tomato sauce. Served it with sauteed sprouts, hazelnuts and white rice.

I often give scraps and trimmings to my dog but I made cracklings out of some of the skin since there was so much. Yum.

Really good breakfast the next morning with the leftovers.

I cooked up a big batch of Pepin's kidney bean and beef chili and got a lot of use out of it mixed with rice and coconut milk for dinner and sauteed up with eggs here for breakfast.

Pepin's not so pretty but very tasty lentil bulgur soup.

Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pepin
Pub. date October, 2011
704 pages
$40, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt