How to Cook Like Jacques
I’ve been a longtime fan of Jacques Pépin. I own many of his books, am a member of the Jacques Pépin Foundation (JPF), and enjoyed the free how-to videos, more than 200, he posted on Facebook throughout the pandemic to help people learn basic techniques and easy-to-make recipes to make at home for family and friends.
So I was excited to hear about his latest venture, a 30-hour course called Rouxbe’s Jacques Pépin: A Legacy of Technique for both fan girls like me and aspiring cooks alike. An introductory-level cooking course that provides a certificate of completion at the end, it covers foundational techniques from knife skills to developing and executing a full menu.
It is expensive, at $349.99. But, I figure, if I do all 30 hours, that’s about $11 an hour. And, like my membership in JPF, which comes with a two-volume online cookbook with videos, it supports the work of the foundation, dedicated to transforming lives through culinary education.
Among its goals are improving “employability, self-reliance, confidence, and health” for people looking for work in the hospitality and food industries, among the hardest hit in the pandemic. The foundation provides grants, cookbooks, training, mentors, scholarships, and more to community kitchens.
I took a sneak peek at the course and it’s easy to follow. After reading about techniques and watching a series of videos, drawn from the best of Pepin’s decades-long career, you practice and refine a technique, then upload a picture of your finished work. There are also unit reviews and quizzes to reinforce the material. The course also provides access to a series of live online events, many of them holiday themed at this time of year, and to a friendly group of people also taking the course on Facebook where you can lament flops, swap tips, and celebrate successes with others taking the course.
The next cohort starts Tuesday, Jan. 4, which gives us time to save up money for the course and maybe even give it to someone special as a holiday gift. But you can enroll any time you want, and start the class as soon as you enroll. For more information or to enroll, you can visit rouxbe.com/jacquespepin. In the meantime, here is a recipe from the course that takes a classic appetizer, deviled eggs, makes it holiday-worthy with some garnishes, and provides information on the best technique for the somewhat pesky task of making hard-boiled eggs.
From the Jacques Pépin Foundation
Deviled eggs are a festive and classic crowd pleaser that are elevated with the addition of salmon or trout caviar. Other great toppings are a small piece of smoked salmon, capers or olives. The most important part of making deviled eggs is the proper cooking of the eggs. See cooking hard-cooked eggs, below.
6 large hard-cooked eggs, preferably organic, peeled
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 ounce salmon or trout caviar, optional
Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and set the whites on a plate.
To make the filling, put the yolks in a food processor. Any egg white trimmings can be added to the food processor along with the cream cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the chives. Process for a few seconds to combine the ingredients.
Using a spoon, fill the cavities in the whites. Alternatively, spoon the yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and fill each cavity with a rosette of the mixture. The deviled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator at this point up to overnight in an airtight container, but are best brought to room temperature for serving.
Top each of the eggs with the caviar, if using. Sprinkle the remaining chives on top and serve at room temperature.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water.
Meanwhile, prick the rounded end of each egg with a pushpin or thumbtack. This is done to release the pressure in the air chamber of the egg, which can often lead to cracking during cooking.
Reduce the heat so the water is barely boiling. Lower the eggs into the water and cook the eggs with the water still barely boiling for 10 minutes.
As soon as they are ready, transfer the eggs to the ice water. You can also drain the water from the pan, shaking the eggs to crack the shells a bit, and add ice water to the pan. After 15 minutes, or when the eggs are cold, lift them from the ice water and tap on them with a spoon to crack the shells. Return to the ice water to begin to loosen the shells.
It is best to peel eggs while running them under cold water. This helps break through the shell under the skin of the egg. Try to let the water run under the thin membrane beneath the shell. This helps release the egg without damaging the white.