Book review French cuisine cookbook: Bouchon by Thomas Keller with Jeffrey Cerciello Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Bouchon by Thomas Keller HeartHeartHeart

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Bouchon is a massive tome from the prodigious Thomas Keller and his colleague Jeffrey Cerciello. For those who found the recipes in The French Laundry cookbook exacting, the recipes here are much more accessible but still stamped with the same purity and excellence of technique.
The term bouchon comes from the traditional eateries of Lyon where marvellous food is dished up at affordable prices.
While Thomas Keller pushes the boundaries at The French Laundry, his associate Jeffrey Cerciello serves up traditional fare at nearby Bouchon (there is another Bouchon in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas). At The French Laundry Keller strives for perfection as he invents new dishes. At Bouchon he and Cerciello try to work out why the perennial favourites of France have appealed to us for so long and then to cook those dishes in a way that uncovers their inherent perfection.
The two have collaborated on this amazing book that is packed with recipes and mini-treatises on technique.
One of the reasons why we think that Keller has so much to offer as a writer is that he doesn't insult the intelligence of his readers. He explains why he does everything and sweeps you up in his passion for perfection. Too often these days recipe writers try to strip a recipe bare and repackage it with as few ingredients and as little time at the stove as possible. Keller doesn't do this. For example, he devotes two of the large pages to a discussion of the making of a vinaigrette. Another two pages are devoted to the technique for making a delicious rabbit pate. Three pages are needed to make a classic Boeuf Bourguignon.
So, what are our favourite recipes? Well, we like all of them, starting with the marinated olives moving on to the roasted beet salad and then to the brined roast chicken and the boeuf Bourguignon and then finishing with the crème caramel.
They authors have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that all of the recipes can be recreated in the home kitchen.
In summary, this is a large book but not a daunting book. It is cutting edge in its explanations of technique but the recipes are deeply-rooted in hundreds of years of tradition. There is nothing faddish about any of the recipes so you will be able to return to these recipes year after year as you explore the delights of the magic cuisine of France.
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