One-pot culinary perfection

For his latest book, top French chef Stéphane Reynaud has conjured easy-to-prepare, tasty dishes that require just one knife and one pot

30 May 2018
By Connexion journalist

Going back to basics, with just the best ingredients lovingly put together in a single pot, with minimal fiddly preparation, not only saves on the washing up, but keeps all the flavour locked in.

The inspiration for Stéphane Reynaud is obvious – to makes delicious food accessible to everyone – and his book is dedicated to “those friends who don’t know how to cook, as well as those who do”. Stéphane spoke to The Connexion about his own food journey and inspiration:

 

What is your earliest food memory?

My earliest food memory is when my grandmother was cooking a potato galette with eggs and onions, which I loved. I remember asking my mother whether I could have a bite of hers and she said yes and gave me a big smile. I remember it particularly because I knew if I had asked anybody else the same question the answer would have been a big no!

 

Coming from a family of Ardèche butchers and pig farmers, what dishes marked your childhood?

I remember waking up to the smell of my grandmother’s cooking. She would cook lunch before going to work and leave the pot in the corner of the fireplace.

The smells were so great, and I remember every dish; the day I would wake to the smell of Pot au feu, the day of Blanquette, and of Boeuf Bourguignon.... Everything was always perfectly cooked for lunchtime and it is these dishes that marked my childhood and are still firm favourites today!

 

What role did food and cooking play when you were growing up?

Food is essential to my life. For me, the best moment of the day is sitting around a table and sharing food and drink with friends and family.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, a slice of cheese with bread and a glass of wine is the equivalent of a three-star Michelin meal if you are surrounded by the people you love.

 

Did you always want to be a chef?

I wanted to open my own restaurant when I was 15 years old – a bistro. I love the spirit of that kind of restaurant; generous food, a good mix of different people, and a lot of fun.

To open your own restaurant, you have to manage and be passionate about your cuisine, so becoming a chef was an obvious choice.

 

Who or what is your greatest culinary inspiration?

My greatest inspiration is family food that heralds from the countryside. Food which reflects the seasons. Simple, everyday food, which is made up of easy ingredients that don’t break the bank. 

 

Your previous books were about terrine, roasts, tripe and barbecues. Can we expect a vegetarian book anytime soon?

Why not! I love vegetables; I wait in anticipation for asparagus in spring, good tomatoes at the end of summer, nice pumpkin in autumn, and the best potatoes in winter. Vegetables represent the changing of the seasons and I love that.

 

What is your ultimate three-course meal, your last meal on earth?

Green salad with shallots dressing; Côte de Boeuf with Béarnaise sauce and fries; a big, big, big plate of cheese; and a bottle of Hermitage of Domaine de Jean Louis Chave.

 

Where did your inspiration comes from for your latest book about one pot dishes? A fear of washing up?

With my new book I wanted to show that it doesn’t take time to prepare food for six people. With One Knife, One Pot, One Dish you spend less than 30 minutes in your kitchen and then simply leave the pot in the oven.

This way you have time for the aperitif. You can spend time with your friends drinking wine rather than disappearing into the kitchen!

 

Which current trends in cooking/dining in France are you keen on?

I like that at the moment restaurant menus are actually a reflection of what the chef wants to cook. They are cooking from seasonal produce and the menu changes every day depending on what food is available and of good quality.

The second trend is sharer plates, where you can taste a variety of dishes. And because it’s tapas, it’s not too expensive either!

 

And which ones are you less keen on?

I’m not a fan of restaurants which have a menu packed full of different cuisines from all around the world. Those menus lack personality. A mix of Franco, Italian, Thai... argh!

 

Does French cuisine still lead the world, in your opinion?

It’s difficult today to speak about French cuisine – I think it’s easier to speak about French tradition. The world has changed it’s way of eating as well.

French cuisine still holds the basis of the traditional French way of cooking but I think it’s best to speak about a chef’s own cuisine. We shouldn’t care if a chef is French or Italian. They are chefs in their own right and they make their own cuisine.

 

What are the five key characteristics for any chef?

The five key ingredients for me are to love people, to be open to the world, to respect the products and the seasons, to have a great team, and to be generous.

 

What is your current favourite restaurant?

The next restaurant I eat at... there are so many great restaurants out there!

 

 

Chicken with lemon and peas

Ingredients, serves 4

1 bunch of thin green asparagus

2 onions

2 lemons

500 g fresh peas

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 stems lemongrass

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

(mixed dried herbs)

Fine sea salt

 

1 baking dish and a chopping board

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: One hour

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.

2. Cut the asparagus into lengths and the onions and lemons into wedges, without peeling them. Shell the peas.

3. Arrange the chicken pieces in the dish, brush with olive oil, add the onions, lemongrass, lemons, herbs and season with salt. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.

4. Take the dish out of the oven, takeout the chicken pieces, add the asparagus and peas, return the chicken to the dish and bake again for 15 minutes.

 

Roast beef à la provençal

Ingredients, serves 4

2 garlic cloves

1 French shallot

1 bunch basil

4 biscotte toasts

Salt and pepper

1 kg piece of roasting beef

80 g butter

600 g tomatoes, a mixture of varieties

 

1 baking dish

1 chopping board

1 food processor

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Resting time: 10 minutes

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Peel the garlic and shallot, pick the leaves from the basil. Process them all roughly with the biscottes.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Rub the beef with the butter and brown on all sides in a flameproof baking dish over high heat.

4. Arrange the tomatoes around the beef and scatter with the Provençal crumb mixture. 

5. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, then leave to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place by the oven before serving.

Note: If you do not have a flameproof baking dish that can be used on the stove top, skip the browning step.

 

Veggie lentils

Ingredients, serves 4

3 French shallots

2 garlic cloves

2 carrots

1 zucchini (courgette)

3 ripe tomatoes

200 g blue-green Puy lentils

1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

750 ml vegetable stock

50 g pitted green olives

50 g pitted dry black olives

1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)

Salt and pepper

 

1 flameproof casserole dish

1 chopping board

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 20 minutes

 

Method

1. Peel and finely slice the shallots and garlic. Peel and cut the carrots into cubes. Cut the zucchini and tomatoes into cubes. Rinse the lentils. Chop the parsley.

2. Put all of the ingredients in a flameproof casserole dish, pour in the vegetable stock and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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