May 31, 2004
[Herbed Frogs' Legs]
A lot of the things the French are notorious for eating, like frogs' legs or snails, kidneys or horse meat, aren't really that common in everyday food. In the case of frogs' legs, I personally tasted them for the first time just a year ago, in a three-star restaurant no less, during a week-end getaway in the Perigord.
And then a few weeks ago, while shopping at my Picard store, I noticed that they carried frozen frogs' legs. Always one for bringing interesting food back into my kitchen, I bought a bag (500 g for 5.76 €) and more or less forgot about it, keeping it for a special occasion. Our recent mission to empty the freezer is certainly special occasion enough, so this past Saturday we decided to treat ourselves to herbed frogs' legs for lunch.
I had clipped a recipe in a recent issue of the French magazine Saveurs, I went on to search the web for alternate recipes, and ended up with this version : a simple, traditional preparation which uses few ingredients, so as not to mute the frogs' legs' shy voice.
The frogs' legs come in pairs, which should be handled with care so as not to be separated. I spent a little while just gazing at my army of frogs' pants, marvelling at the smallness and precision of their shape : they are snipped at the base of their spines, and you can see the tiny thighs and calves, the bones and tendons.
We dipped the frogs' legs in flour to help them develop a golden crust, cooked them in the skillet, and served them sprinkled with chopped parsley and garlic. The flesh on frogs' legs is often said to "taste like chicken" (the ubiquitous expression), but it struck me as being in fact closer to some white fish, like cod, both in texture and taste. The flavor is very delicate, so it's important to choose an accompaniment that doesn't overpower it.
The only realistic, enjoyable way to eat these is with your fingers, gnawing at the teeny weeny little bones, which you pile up into a mininiature mass grave. This is definitely not first-date food, unless you think sticky fingers and garlic breath will bring you closer, which may very well be the case.
Cuisses de Grenouille aux Herbes
- 500 g frogs' legs (about twenty pairs)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 6 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
- 20 g (1 Tbsp) butter
- 30 g (1/4 C) flour
- salt, pepper
Rinse the frogs' legs under cold water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Peel and chop the garlic. Rinse the parsley leaves, dry and chop finely. Combine two thirds of the garlic with the chopped parsley, and set aside. Pour the flour in a plate, and coat the pairs of frogs' legs on both sides, one by one.
Heat the butter and the remaining garlic in a large skillet. When the butter starts to foam, transfer the frogs' legs into the skillet. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for five to seven minutes, until the flour coating starts to get golden. Flip each pair of legs, sprinkle a little more salt and pepper, and cook for another five minutes, until golden and slightly crispy.
Transfer the frogs' legs onto a serving plate, and sprinkle with the herb and garlic mixture. Serve immediately, with buttered toasts of crusty bread.