Some of my favorite food memories are of a trip my hubby and I took to Paris a few years ago. The food was as everyone said - magnifique! French cuisine is very simple and elegant. If you use a few very simple ingredients and you use them sparingly, you can have a wonderfully French tasting dish on the table in moments!
It is true a lot of French cooking involves butter and oil, but if it really were as fattening as American's belabor it as being, why are the French so much skinnier than American's? The answer is obvious!
They eat in much smaller amounts and don't gorge like we tend to do.
A small bit of Dijon mustard, one tablespoon of pure, creamy, unsalted European butter, one or two tablespoons of rich olive oil, just a few slivers of tangy Gruyère cheese is all one needs to have a splendid meal.
Julia Child and James Beard got this and clearly so does one of my idols, Jacques Pepin.
But using Gruyère cheese! Oh, my! It's so controversial!
The cow's milk cheese is named after the town of Gruyères in Switzerland, and originated in the cantons of Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Berne. Before 2001, when Gruyère gained Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status as a Swiss cheese, there was controversy whether French cheeses of a similar nature could also be labeled Gruyère. (French Gruyère-style cheeses include Comté and Beaufort.)
French Gruyère-style cheeses must have holes according to French agricultural law, whereas Swiss Gruyère is a solid cheese with no holes.
Gruyère is sweet and has a delightful and nutty flavor. A bit salty. Very creamy when it's very young and as it ages, more assertive, earthy, and complex. Sounds like me!
This dish is an American version of Chicken Persillade, which is simply parsley chopped together with seasonings including garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar.
The simplest and most common form is parsley and garlic and is often one part of a cooks mise en place, meaning 'everything in place' or the entire set up of a meal.
If added early in cooking, it becomes mellow; but when it is added at the end of cooking or as a garnish, it provides a smooth jolt, which is exactly what we are doing here.
Many cooks used this with only garlic and oil, but I like to add a tiny bit of butter and a large shallot to make it more of a simple dressing.
It literally takes 5 minutes and you are ready to eat! I can't stand to use the oven on hot days. It's barberic.
According to a simple search on the Internet, I am told it is is extensively used in French cuisine and Greek cuisine, as well as in Cajun cuisine, Louisiana Creole cuisine, and the cuisine of Quebec.
I have yet to cook Quebec cuisine but don't put it past me!
But a plump organic rotisserie chicken at the supermarket. If you can only get Perdue or some such, that's fine. Try to avoid one labeled barbecue or lemon seasoning. They have been brined to the point of no return and are much too salty!
I prefer a bird about 4 pounds for 4 meals; one pound of meat per person.
Now, you can simply cut it and put it over greens, but then you have the fatty skin which, while tasty, can be a bit heavy with the accompanying persillade.
I shred the meat off of the chicken and put it in a bowl. Don't throw out the plastic container the chicken came in. Those juices will come in handy later.
Over a head of Boston lettuce (wonderfully meaty, buttery and herb tasting green; try it instead of mixed greens or Romaine) spread over four plates, sprinkle the meat so it is evenly distributed.
Sliced up a handful of fresh, summer radishes and put them on the side of the plate.
Tear up one baguette into large, bite size pieces over the chicken over the four plates. Pepper everything lightly.
Dice up a few strips of Gruyère cheese over the mixture and then get ready to make the very quick, simple persillade.
Now add 3 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted European style butter to a small pan over medium heat until the butter stop bubbling (this tells you when its hot enough)...add one large shallot diced very small, one small head of garlic and cook for 30 seconds and then add 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley and the juices from the container the bird came.
Immediately dribble the wonderfully aromatic mixture over the chicken, bread and greens mixture and serve. Add pepper as needed.
A delightful and tasty French meal for a hot August day!