French cuisine is lauded as the epitome of refined food. Leafing through our gallery of classic French recipes, it’s easy to see why. French desserts are especially beautiful, and some of the world’s most photogenic desserts are crafted by the pâtissiers of Paris. But in the French culinary canon, there are some oddballs that look downright bad (hello, Lou Fassum!). Yet, while questionable to the eye, each of these ugly-ducking dishes boasts the same worlds of flavor as their more elegantly-presented counterparts. From a archaic stuffed cabbage to a boiled cow’s head, here are 7 ugly recipes we’d still make any day.
Lou fassum is most dramatic when presented whole, then sliced into thick wedges. Serving the pieces with a stock-based glaze is optional. The dish can also be drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs, or ladled with chicken stock and topped with a dusting of grated cheese. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes if desired. Get the recipe for Lou Fassum »
Chef Daniel Boulud’s take on a classic Lyonnaise pairing of pork and lentils. Make sure the lentils are fully cooked , says Boulud, “otherwise, they don’t absorb the seasoning.” Make sure to taste a few minutes before they are drained: They should be creamy with just a slight bite. Get the recipe for Lentil Salad with Pork »
“For me, eating calf’s head is a must in Lyon—even for breakfast,” says chef Daniel Boulud about this Lyonnaise specialty. “It brings back memories of family gatherings and special occasions. We used to raise and slaughter our own calves growing up.” Instead of tackling the butchery on your own, have your butcher do the heavy lifting for you: Ask for the meat, tongue, and brain to be separated from the skull, but leave the skin on because, as Boulud says, “it’s not tête de veau without the skin.” Get the recipe for Boiled Cow’s Head (Tête de Veau) »
In this elegant take on surf and turf, served as an appetizer at Ai Fiori in New York City, chef Michael White nestles sweet scallops, black truffles, and celery root puree into split marrow bones and broils them under a blanket of bone marrow. Get the recipe for Scallops and Truffles with Beef Marrow (Mare e Monte) »
The cooking time for white asparagus depends on its age and thickness. Test for doneness as you go. Get the recipe for White Asparagus with Olive Oil Sabayon »
This steak tartare recipe was inspired by the zesty tableside preparation at Brasserie Georges in Lyon. For best results, use the highest-quality beef you can find, and chop it by hand. Get the recipe for Steak Tartare »
This Provençal salad combines young vegetables, full of flavor, with plenty of fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil as a finishing touch. Get the recipe for Marinated Vegetable and Herb Salad »