Quick review: Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon”

I’ve been reading a lot of cookbooks in my spare time, mostly just to broaden my horizons regarding all facets of cooking: ingredient, technique, equipment, country of origin, etc.

Cultured me first started with Guy Fieri’s “Food.” I tried to make his “Texas Hold ‘Em,” a BBQ brisket stuffed fresh baked loaf of bread. I failed miserably because I forgot that I’ve never made bread before, let alone stuffed a brick of beef into one.

So I scaled back, deciding to up the refinement and cut down on the list of ingredients. I chose to open Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon,” the cookbook companion to his Yountville, Calif. restaurant of the same name. The book–essentially a love letter to the French bistros Keller frequented when he staged in Paris–is a gorgeous celebration of simple cooking and perfect execution.

Because Chef Brian’s Fat Dude menus account for much of the scratch-cooking experience I have, I have learned to cook dishes that are composed of multiple layers of flavor, with spices and other flavor tricks to keep each component interesting.

Bouchon redefines to me what a shopping list can be. Keller’s roast chicken recipe has only five ingredients, two of which are optional. It teaches that simple is just as good as complex.

It’s full of gorgeous pictures, amazing tips and a bevy of recipes covering the traditional yet exquisite (beef bourguignon, rabbit pate) and simple comforts easily made at home (croque madame, potato leek soup).

Bouchon is a must-have for anyone who wants to explore French bistro cooking through the lens of Keller, an inspiring American great.

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