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Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food [Kindle Edition with Audio/Video]

Jacques Pépin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For the first time ever, the legendary chef collects and updates the best recipes from his six-decade career. With a searchable DVD demonstrating every technique a cook will ever need.

In his more than sixty years as a chef, Jacques Pépin has earned a reputation as a champion of simplicity. His recipes are classics. They find the shortest, surest route to flavor, avoiding complicated techniques.

Now, in a book that celebrates his life in food, the world’s most famous cooking teacher winnows his favorite recipes from the thousands he has created, streamlining them even further. They include Onion Soup Lyonnaise-Style, which Jacques enjoyed as a young chef while bar-crawling in Paris; Linguine with Clam Sauce and Vegetables, a frequent dinner chez Jacques; Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Butter, which he makes indoors in winter and outdoors in summer; Five-Peppercorn Steak, his spin on a bistro classic; Mémé’s Apple Tart, which his mother made every day in her Lyon restaurant; and Warm Chocolate Fondue Soufflé, part cake, part pudding, part soufflé, and pure bliss.

Essential Pépin spans the many styles of Jacques’s cooking: homey country French, haute cuisine, fast food Jacques-style, and fresh contemporary American dishes. Many of the recipes are globally inspired, from Mexico, across Europe, or the Far East.

In the accompanying searchable DVD, Jacques shines as a teacher, as he demonstrates all the techniques a cook needs to know. This truly is the essential Pépin.


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Editorial Reviews Review

Fall into Cooking Featured Recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin

When the weather gets cooler in the fall, I make soup. I generally cook up a big batch and freeze some for whenever I need it. This one, with sausage, potatoes, and cabbage, is hearty and good for cold weather. It’s terrific served with thick slices of country bread, and if you have a salad as well, you’ve got a complete dinner.

Sausage, Potato, and Cabbage Soup

Serves 8


8 ounces mild Italian sausage meat
2 small onions, cut into 1-inch-thick slices (1 ½ cups)
6 scallions, trimmed (leaving some green) and cut into ½-inch pieces (1¼ cups)
6 cups water
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
8 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces (4 cups)
1¼ teaspoons salt
Crusty French bread

Break the sausage meat into 1-inch pieces and place it in a saucepan over high heat. Sauté, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to keep the meat from sticking, for 10 minutes, or until the sausage is well browned.

Add the onions and scallions and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water, potatoes, cabbage, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes.

Serve the soup in bowls with chunks of crusty French bread.

Baker’s Wife Potatoes

This classic potato gratin is made in France in many places, as is the famous dauphinois gratin, which is made with cream, milk, and garlic. The dauphinois has many more calories than this one, which is flavorful and ideal with any type of roast, from a roast chicken to a leg of lamb.

The potatoes are sliced but not washed, which would cause them to lose the starch that binds the dish. A good chicken stock and a little white wine are added for acidity, and the gratin is flavored with thyme and bay leaves. It can be prepared ahead and even frozen.

Serves 8


2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tablespoon peanut oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 14 ounces)
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (3 tablespoons)
3 cups homemade chicken stock (page 612) or low-salt canned chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
3 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ⅛-inch-thick slices.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add the onions and sauté them for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, including the potatoes, mixing gently, and bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to an 8-cup gratin dish.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until most of the moisture is absorbed and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve.

Chicken Legs with Wine and Yams

I love both yams and sweet potatoes and use them in different ways, sometimes in soup, sometimes simply split in half and roasted in the oven. You can use either sweet potatoes or yams in this casserole, which also includes mushrooms, chicken, and wine. This is a great dish for company. It can be prepared ahead and reheated--which makes it even better.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole chicken legs (about 3 pounds total), skin removed, drumsticks and thighs separated
¼ cup chopped onion
4 large shallots (about 6 ounces), sliced (about 1½cups)
8 medium mushrooms (about 5 ounces), cleaned and halved
4 small yams or sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and halved lengthwise
1 cup dry white wine
8 large garlic cloves, crushed and chopped (2 tablespoons)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken pieces in batches and sauté over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the shallots, mushrooms, yams or sweet potatoes, wine, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and boil very gently for 20 minutes.

Garnish with the parsley and serve.


"A must-have for any cookbook fan."
--Edward Ash Millby for USA Today

"...simple without being dumbed down; approachable yet still adventurous... Whether he's explaining how to make Escoffier quenelles with mushroom sauce, black sea bass gravlax...or tarte tatin, [Pepin] makes it seem doable and shares tidbits of wisdom to boost confidence and kitchen knowledge... For serious cooks and beginners alike, this is an instant classic that would enhance almost any collection."
-Publishers Weekly, starred

"Jacques Pépin has been a constant inspiration to me. This book is a distillation of the very best of his creations, showing both the remarkable breadth of his cooking and the beautiful continuity of his dishes over the past sixty years. He makes food the way it should be made: Simple, seasonally ripe, pure, and impossible to resist."
—Alice Waters

"Jacques Pepin is The Master. The undisputed authority on . . . well, just about everything relating to food. If Jacques Pepin tells you this is the way to make an omelet — or to roast a chicken, then for me, the matter is settled. As with all his works, this is a vital, essential volume that should live in your kitchen forever. Nobody knows more or does it better."
—Anthony Bourdain

"If there's a 'best of the best' in cookbooks, this is it--a lifetime of greatest hits from our favorite ambassador of French cuisine. These recipes are more than just mouthwatering; they are as lively, unpretentious, and appealing as the man behind them, reminding us (as if we needed reminding) why we fell in love with French food, and with Jacques Pépin, in the first place. An essential collection from an essential chef."
—Dan Barber

"Jacques Pepin is a true artist and a masterful one at that. His commitment to excellence and dedication to quality education are evident throughout his storied career. Essential Pepin reflects his incredible body of work in what feels like an important literary achievement, and we, his pupils, are ever so fortunate to benefit from the breadth of knowledge within its pages. I often find that with Jacques Pepin, whether in print or on television, I walk away from my time with him having learned a little something more, and I feel a bit richer for that."
—Lidia Bastianich

Product Details

  • File Size: 605217 KB
  • Print Length: 709 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0547232799
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 18, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LVR7GI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,169 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
132 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore all these pre-published copy reviews! December 27, 2011
By jumpy1
I am amazed to see how many people had the nerve to review this book on advance copy without even using the book or viewing the DVD! It is making me very suspicious of the Amazon Vine program and now all reviews on Amazon. I received this book as a gift, I did not intend to buy it. I didn't intend to buy it because I have Pepin's Complete Techniques, Fast Food My Way, Sweet Simplicity, his memoir and I don't know what else in my collection of over 450 cookbooks. I mean, do I need another one? I didn't think so. Well, I was wrong, wrong, wrong!

For starters, the book is made to be abused. A thick plastic cover that isn't destroyed when you wipe it clean. And every page is solidly stocked with recipes interspersed with sweet watercolor/drawings like cookbooks used to have. The complaints here over the lack of photos just don't apply as these dishes are so simple that any way they look when you finish them is probably exactly what they look like for everyone else. What happened to the time when people liked good food to look like it was made in an auberge and not a 5-star restaurant? What happened to the time when Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was just fine with no photos?

As for the DVD, it is PURE GOLD even if you never use a recipe. You want to know what it looks like to do basic things right, like truss a chicken with or without a needle, shuck an oyster or clam with minimal trouble, use up artichokes that are spoiling, make a caramel cage or angel hair nest for a dessert? Just watch the magnificent videos of a chef with rare confidence in every technique he demonstrates, as if it were as easy as folding a napkin.
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176 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Formidable! September 3, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Cookbooks are a hard sell these days. If you want a recipe, you can get 20 versions on Epicurious, or use google and get thousands. If you want to see a technique demonstrated, youtube probably has it. So what would impel anybody to actually pay for a cookbook? In one word - Wisdom.

This tome (and it is, a tome) is a collection gleaned from Pepin's lifetime as a chef, (somewhat) updated to accommodate modern sensibilities. It has a remarkable range, from dorm food (pita pizza? really?) to roast goose with all the trimmings, to home-cured ham (cooking time - 8 months). It also has notable breadth, including not only things we Americans expect from a French cook (frogs legs, croissants, cassoulet), but also Asian soups, Indian relishes, and other dishes that have found their way into the US diet. (I was tickled to find my grandmother's schav recipe on the first page. Using chicken stock and sweet cream instead of scallion broth and sour, but still). Most of the recipes rely entirely on fresh ingredients (Tabasco sauce and such being the exceptions), but there are notes about potential substitutions (using canned stock for fresh, for example).

What makes this all worth it, however, is is the tidbits of knowledge larded throughout: "Moisten your hands before rolling out the meatballs," "You can double the dressing recipe - it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks," "Don't worry if some of the stuffing is visible - it will not leak out," "You can make this ahead and reheat it, but add the peas at the last minute so they won't lose their color." And so on. This, coupled with the advice on techniques, brings the recipes out of the realm of "scarey French food" and into the realm of "totally doable.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive cookbook October 18, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In "Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food," world-renowned chef Pepin, popularly known for his cooking show, shares his recipes--which are divided into categories like soups, salads, eggs and cheese, pasta/rice/grains/potatoes, breads/sandwiches/pizzas, shellfish and fish, poultry and game, meat, charcuterie and offal, vegetables and side dishes, fruit desserts, puddings/sweet soufflés/ crepes, cakes/cookies/candles, tarts/pies/pastries, frozen desserts, and basics.

After each category, a page of recipes and corresponding page numbers is listed. The recipes themselves are listed with a related tidbit of information, list of ingredients, and a couple of short paragraphs detailing the preparation techniques. Most of the ingredients for the recipes are pretty basic and, thankfully, easy to find.

The recipes cover a wide range of food: anything from risotto with vegetables, mint ice cream, black truffle salad, chocolate soufflé, cheesecake with apricot blueberry sauce, chocolate mousse, potato crepes with caviar, poached oysters with mushrooms and red pepper, apricot fondue, to Christmas fruitcake, broiled lobster with bread stuffing, onion and bread soup, smoked salmon, strawberry buttermilk shortcake, and etc, etc, etc. Throughout the book, well-known dishes are mixed up with more exotic once.

The book ends with a long and comprehensive index, organized by ingredients and meal categories. A DVD is included with the book.

Now to my thoughts: I tried making some of the recipes in the book, and was impressed by the results. My favorite so far is the black truffle salad. The book is pretty hefty--as the 700 plus recipes in the title indicate. It's definitely worth it though. Recommended for fans of cooking programs, newbies, as well as professional cooks.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple fantastic recipes from a true gentleman
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Pepin for my newspaper and he is humble and charming, just like he appears on TV. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Pit bull mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read. Everyone Needs One In Their Kitchen
I recommend this book to anyone who cooks. It should be a staple in any kitchen. Its got lots of wonderful recipes from scratch, like mayonnaise and easy, quick dinners for busy... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Adele
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading
This belongs in every cupboard. So many approachable recipes crammed into one useful volume! I got this as a gift for my girlfriend and she loves it!
Published 15 days ago by Brendan O'Donovan
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential
Amazing Pepin's culinary skills are wonderful to have as guides to creating meals, etc. the recipes are clear and a pleasure to follow.
Published 27 days ago by Jeff Weeden
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book
I can't put this beautiful book down. The dvd is also wonderful but I watch Jacques so often I did not watch it yet. One of the best cookbooks in my growing collection. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J G A Sr
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this cookbook and DVD!
This is a great cookbook! I love the DVD that comes with the cookbook. It's like your own personal cooking lesson!
Published 1 month ago by Gini Perry
3.0 out of 5 stars for trained chefs
ONLY 3 stars, mainly due to lack of pictures!! Remember, One picture is worth a Thousand words!! book is really for trained chefs or cooks. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pats corral
5.0 out of 5 stars Really like the DVD techniques.
Plenty of reviews that cover this book better than I will but wanted to say the DVD really helped. All the recipes I've done so far have been very good and not difficult to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kryptonite
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Pepin
I frequently watch Jacques Pepin on TV and learned from there of the book. It is a gem! Excellent recipes written in an easy to follow format. Read more
Published 1 month ago by marlene e. haffner
5.0 out of 5 stars Jacques Pepin
One of the greatest chefs and this book is so big with hundreds of recipes. The recipes are variable and not too hard.
Published 1 month ago by Mambo
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More About the Author

Jacques Pepin is the author of twenty-one cookbooks, including the best-selling The Apprentice and the award-winning Jacques Pepin Celebrates and Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home (with Julia Child). He has appeared regularly on PBS programs for more than a decade, hosting over three hundred cooking shows. A contributing editor for Food & Wine, he is the dean of special programs at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. Before coming to the United States, he served as personal chef to three French heads of state.

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