Sautéed Frogs' Legs Recipe ( Cuisses de Grenouille à la Provençale )
Close your eyes and picture a bustling marketplace in the heart of Provence, France. Stalls are laden with fragrant lavender, olive oil, and an array of vibrant spices. But amidst the colorful chaos, there's one culinary delicacy that truly captures the essence of this region: the ever-intriguing Frogs' Legs or 'Cuisses de Grenouille à la Provençale.'
The story goes that back in the day, a local Provençal chef, seeking a way to showcase the abundance of frogs from the region's ponds, stumbled upon a culinary masterpiece. By combining these tender legs with a blend of rustic ingredients sourced from the very marketplace, he created a dish that was both elegant and hearty, a delightful juxtaposition that made it an instant hit. Locals would gather at his bistro, lured by the tantalizing aroma, eagerly awaiting their plate of these golden-brown delicacies.
Fast forward to today, and this dish has become synonymous with the essence of Provençal cooking. While Frogs' Legs may sound adventurous to some, when cooked with love and passion, they transform into tender, flavorful bites that leave one reminiscing about the beautiful French countryside.
But you don't have to travel to France to enjoy this dish! Bring a touch of Provence to your own kitchen with this simple yet exquisite recipe. And while you sauté and sizzle, imagine yourself in that sun-kissed marketplace, about to unveil a dish that tells a tale of tradition, taste, and the timeless allure of Provençal cuisine. Let's embark on this culinary journey together!
Selection of Frogs' Legs: When selecting frogs' legs, look for those that are plump and moist with a translucent, off-white color. If they appear dull or have a strong odor, it might indicate age or poor storage. Ideally, source them from trusted specialty stores or fishmongers who can assure their freshness and sustainability.
Clarified Butter Preferences: Clarified butter, due to its higher smoke point, is excellent for sautéing at high temperatures without burning. When preparing it at home, gently melt unsalted butter over low heat, allowing milk solids to settle at the bottom. Skim off any froth from the top and pour off the clear liquid, leaving the solids behind. For a quicker option, ghee, a type of Indian clarified butter, can be a suitable substitute available in most stores.
Precise Separation of Frogs' Legs: When separating the frogs' legs, ensure a clean cut at the joint. A sharp knife ensures minimal damage to the flesh, retaining its tender texture. Only use the legs.
Importance of Marination: Immersing the legs in milk not only tenderizes but also helps in neutralizing any gamy taste. Avoid marinating beyond 30 minutes, as prolonged exposure could make the flesh too soft, compromising the desired texture when sautéed.
History of Frogs' Legs and Milk Marination: Historically, it's been noted that Russians would drop a live frog into milk buckets as a preservation method. While the reasons for this weren't entirely clear back then, modern research offers some intriguing insights. Frog skin secretes a substance that has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties. This secretion contains a mix of proteins called peptides, which defend the frog against various threats, especially since they lack teeth and claws. Dr. Albert Lebedev's research from Moscow State University found a staggering 76 types of peptides in the secretion that could have potential medicinal benefits. This antibacterial property could be why milk, when infused with frog, tended to stay fresh for longer.
In relation to the culinary practice of marinating frog legs in milk, it serves a few purposes. First, the milk assists in tenderizing the meat, making it softer and more palatable. Moreover, milk can aid in the removal of any contaminants, leading to a purer taste and appearance of the frog legs. It's believed that the milk also helps to neutralize any strong, unwanted flavors in the frog meat, allowing for a taste that's often compared to chicken wings. The combined benefits of milk's tenderizing properties and the frog's inherent antibacterial peptides ensure that the meat is not only tasty but also potentially purer and less prone to bacterial spoilage.
Ensuring Dryness Post-Marination: Properly patting the frogs' legs dry ensures that they sauté crisply and prevents the hot butter from splattering when the legs are added to the pan.
Even Flour Coating is Key: A uniform flour coat acts as a protective barrier, preventing the meat from direct exposure to the intense heat and thus preserving its juiciness. Too much flour can lead to a pasty texture, so shaking off excess is vital.
Batching and Butter Division: Cooking in batches ensures even heat distribution and proper browning. It also prevents overcrowding the pan, which can result in steaming rather than sautéing. As the recipe suggests dividing the butter, make sure each batch gets enough to avoid sticking and to promote that golden hue.
Skillet Cleaning Between Batches: Cleaning the skillet between batches removes leftover flour and prevents it from burning, which can introduce a bitter taste. Maintaining a clean skillet ensures consistent taste and appearance for each batch.
Side Dish: Ratatouille (France): A Provençal stewed vegetable dish made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and flavored with herbs. Its origin in the same region as the frog's legs preparation makes them a harmonious pair.
Second Course: Grilled White Asparagus with Hollandaise (Germany): Tender white asparagus spears are grilled and served with a rich hollandaise sauce. The subtle flavors would not overpower the frog's legs.
Dessert: Lemon Sorbet (Italy): A light and tangy dessert that will cleanse the palate after the savory and aromatic flavors of the frog's legs.
Cake: Pear Tarte Tatin (France): A caramelized upside-down pear tart. Its sweetness and buttery crust offer a delightful contrast to the savory frog's legs.
Drink: Sancerre (France): A white wine from the Loire Valley made primarily from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. It has crisp, citrus notes that will complement the garlic and lemon flavors in the frog's legs.
Appetizer: Garlic Shrimp Tapas (Spain - Gambas al Ajillo): This dish features succulent shrimp sautéed in olive oil, infused with garlic and chili. A favorite in Spanish tapas bars, it captures the essence of Mediterranean flavors with its simplicity.
Main Course: Lemon and Herb Grilled Chicken (Greece): This is a simple dish where chicken is marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs, then grilled to perfection. It showcases the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean, much like the frogs' legs.
Side Dish: Aglio e Olio Pasta (Italy): This classic Italian pasta dish translates to "garlic and oil." It is spaghetti tossed in sautéed garlic, red pepper flakes, and olive oil, often garnished with parsley. Its simplicity is its strength, echoing the straightforward yet delicious nature of the Provençal frogs' legs.
Starter: Grilled Calamari with Lemon and Parsley (Greece): Tender squid tubes grilled and then drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with fresh parsley. The dish resonates with the fresh flavors of the sea, with a hint of zesty lemon.
Main Course: Garlic Butter Mussels (Belgium): Mussels are steamed and then tossed in a sumptuous garlic butter sauce. The garlic and butter emphasize the natural sweetness of the mussels, making this a favorite in Belgian bistros.
Appetizer: Lemon Garlic Roasted Brussel Sprouts (USA): This modern American favorite takes the earthy Brussels sprouts and uplifts them with a bright dressing of lemon and garlic, roasting them to crispy perfection.
Main Course: Parsley and Lemon Fish Cakes (England): Traditional British fish cakes get an aromatic twist with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Typically made with cod or haddock, these fish cakes are a delicious way to enjoy the flavors similar to the frogs' legs dish.
The consumption of frogs' legs can be traced back to ancient civilizations. Frogs were consumed in China more than 5000 years ago, and evidence suggests that they might have been a delicacy in Roman and Etruscan cultures. However, France is often associated with the popularization of this dish, and it's in the French culinary tradition that Cuisses de Grenouille à la Provençale found its identity.
The Provençal style of cooking, originating from the Provence region in southeastern France, is characterized by its liberal use of garlic, olive oil, and herbs. When frogs' legs, a popular and affordable source of protein in many parts of France, met the Provençal flair for fresh ingredients and aromatic flavors, a classic was born.
France's Love for Frogs' Legs
The French, especially in rural areas, have had a long-standing tradition of hunting and consuming frogs. They were seen not just as a delicacy but were also appreciated for their tender texture and unique taste.
In French culture, frogs' legs were not always the elite delicacy they're often thought to be today. They were an accessible source of protein for many, particularly in swampy regions where frogs were abundant.
Cuisses de Grenouille à la Provençale
Given the French proclivity for regional culinary variations, it's no surprise that frogs' legs would be prepared in numerous ways across the country. The Provençal version, with its signature use of garlic and parsley, emerged as one of the most beloved iterations.
As French cuisine grew in prominence globally, so too did its iconic dishes. The 19th and early 20th centuries saw a surge in interest in French cooking techniques and recipes, catapulting dishes like Cuisses de Grenouille à la Provençale to international acclaim.
In various parts of the world, the dish came to symbolize the epitome of French culinary sophistication. While for some, the idea of consuming frogs' legs was met with hesitation, the French preparation's undeniable flavors won many over.
Today, Cuisses de Grenouille à la Provençale remains a beloved dish in French cuisine. While the global demand for frogs' legs and subsequent ecological concerns have led to a more mindful consumption, the dish still graces the menus of many traditional French restaurants.
Utilizing Frog Bones: If you have access to the bones, make a light stock out of them. This stock can be reduced and used to intensify the sauce, offering a more profound frog flavor.
Torching Finish: For a charred note, quickly torch the frogs' legs after sautéeing and before serving. This imparts a slight smoky flavor and enhances the visual appeal.
Confit Technique: Instead of simply marinating in milk, consider a frog leg confit. Gently cook the frogs' legs in their own fat (or duck fat) with aromatics like garlic and thyme at a low temperature until they're meltingly tender. This method will ensure the meat is flavorful and incredibly moist
Velvet the Frogs' Legs: Borrowing from Chinese culinary techniques, velvet the frogs' legs before sautéing. This involves marinating the meat in a mixture of egg white, cornstarch, and rice wine, resulting in an incredibly tender texture when cooked.
6 to 48 Legs
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12 pairs of Frogs' Legs
1.5 cups Milk
16 tablespoons Clarified Butter
1 cup Flour
1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
2 Cloves Garlic
( finely chopped )
( to taste )
Freshly Ground Pepper
( to taste )
Preparing the Frogs' Legs:
01 - Start by separating the Frogs' Legs into individual pieces, just like you'd separate chicken drumsticks.
02 - In a bowl, combine the Frogs' Legs with Milk. This helps to tenderize the meat. Pop the bowl in the fridge and let it chill for about 30 minutes.
03 - After marinating, take the Frogs' Legs out of the Milk and lay them on paper towels. Gently pat them dry to remove excess moisture.
04 - It's seasoning time! Sprinkle a good amount of Salt and Pepper over each leg. This will give them a nice flavor.
05 - On a flat plate, spread out some Flour. Dip each Frog's Leg into the Flour, making sure it's evenly coated on all sides.
Cooking the Frogs' Legs:
06 - Work in batches, meaning you'll also have to divide the Butter for each batch. Before dividing the Butter, keep in mind you'll need a bit of Butter for Step 10.
07 - In a medium-sized skillet (that's just a fancy word for frying pan), melt a bit of your Butter. Wait until it's bubbly and sizzling.
08 - Carefully place the first batch of your floured Frogs' Legs into the hot Butter. Let them cook for about 3 minutes, flipping them over once. They should turn a lovely golden brown.
09 - Once cooked, move the Frogs' Legs to a clean plate.
10 - Clean your skillet to remove any leftover bits. Then, melt some more Butter and cook another batch of Frogs' Legs the same way.
( Repeat until you finish all your Frogs' Legs )
Preparing the Sauce:
11 - Give your skillet a quick clean again. Now, melt the rest of the Butter and toss in the chopped Garlic. Stir them around until the Garlic turns a light brown and releases a delicious aroma.
12 - Take the skillet off the heat source. Pour in the Lemon Juice and sprinkle in some more Salt and Pepper. Give it a good stir, combining everything together.
Serving it up:
13 - Time to plate up! Arrange the Frogs' Legs attractively in the middle of a serving dish. Drizzle your freshly made sauce around the legs. For a final touch, sprinkle some chopped Parsley over the top for a burst of color and flavor. Pair them with some baked carrots and Potatoes.
Separating Legs: When separating the legs, it's crucial to use a sharp knife to ensure a clean cut, making for an even cook and presentation.
Marinating: Soaking the Frogs' Legs in milk helps remove any gamey flavor and tenderizes them. Ensure the legs are fully submerged for even marinating.
Butter Substitute: If clarified butter isn't available, you can use regular butter, but be careful about the heat to prevent it from burning. Olive oil can also be an alternative, giving a different flavor profile.
Herbs: If fresh parsley isn't at hand, other fresh herbs like chervil or tarragon can also be used for garnishing and flavor.
Refrigeration: If there are leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in a skillet over low heat to retain the crispiness.
Freezing Raw Legs: If you have more raw Frogs' Legs than you can cook, they can be frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before preparing.
( Per Portion )
|250 kcal (10%)|
|Total Carbohydrate||10g (2.3%)|
|Saturated Fat||9g (45%)|
|300 IU (10%)|
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.15mg (8.8%)|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||2mg (10%)|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.7mg (14%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.1mg (5%)|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||2mcg (6.6%)|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||20mcg (5%)|
|Vitamin B12||1mcg (17%)|
|Vitamin C||4mg (6.6%)|
|Vitamin D||10 IU (2.5%)|
|Vitamin E||1mg (5%)|
|Vitamin K||10mcg (12.5%)|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrient information is available for all ingredients in this recipe. Amount is based on available nutrient data collected from all over the internet.
(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.
|Written by: Uncut Recipes||Disclaimer|