Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whisk Wednesdays—Cuisses de Grenouille aux Herbes (Herbed Frog Legs)

Cuisses de Grenouille aux Herbes (Herbed Frog Legs)For the next few weeks, we're learning about shellfish, snails and frog legs, and first up is frog legs. This, of course, reminded me of the Muppets' Swedish Chef.

The French love frog legs, and it is a "lovable term for the French — the frogs," says Mort Rosenblum, founding editor of the quarterly magazine Dispatches. "They're kind of identified with it, because it's such a distinctive dish."

Frog Tastin' and Giggin'
It's hard to believe, but frog legs are in danger of being "eaten to extinction." Every year, eight to ten tons of frog legs are consumed, according to French research institute INRA.

These days, French frog ranching is dead and commercial giggin' is illegal. You can catch frogs only during frog hunting season, which is 15 days per year and, after you catch them, you must eat them immediately. Otherwise, you may be fined €10,000 or worse, lose your vehicle. So bring a camp stove and frying pan along on your hunt.

If you can't hunt for your own frogs, then you have to import the critters. And if you want French frogs, you may have to resort to the black market…contraband grenouilles de pays.
"French frogs really taste better to most cooks."
Mort Rosenblum
I asked my fishmonger where my frog legs came from, and he said Vietnam! According to this link, Bruno Stril, teaching chef at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris, France, is unsure where his suppliers source their frog legs. "I would like for them to come from France," he says. But he expects that most of the meat comes from other countries."

In France, some restaurants don't even advertise frog legs on their menus but serve them only to foodies who know which eateries will secretly sell the illegal frog legs (according to an article in The Independent).

Frog Fair
A good majority of frog legs are eaten in one weekend at the world's largest frog fair. Since 1972 on the fourth weekend in April, Vittel, France holds the Fête de Grenouilles hosted by The Brotherhood of Frog Thigh Tasters.
"The frog is like a woman, only their thighs are good."
Rene Clement, Lorraine region's late French frog farmer, restaurateur and original host of the Fête de Grenouilles
According to the Harper's Index in July 2004, the last year that the fête served French frog legs was in 1977. Since then, they've had to import frog legs from other parts of the world, including Indonesia. The Brotherhood of Frog Thigh Tasters wants to "to restore la grenouille to glory by persuading the government to put fresh French frogs back on the table."

Frogs and Lent
Finally, since we're in the season of Lent, I want you to know that you don't have to give up frog legs. The Church doesn't consider frog legs to be meat, so go ahead and indulge, but good luck finding French grenouille.

Frogs in the Frying Pan
This recipe is a simple one-cutting-board-one-knife-one-pan kind of dish.

Dry. Dredge. Season. Sauté with garlic. Sprinkle with parsley.

I would use more butter than called for in the recipe since the frog legs stuck to the pan.


Serves 4

Cuisses de Grenouille aux Herbes (Herbed Frog Legs) mise en place
1 pound (500 g) frog legs (about twenty pairs)
20 g (1 tablespoon) butter
30 g (¼ cup) flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

You can find the recipe for Cuisses de Grenouille aux Herbes (Herbed Frog Legs) from Chocolate & Zucchini. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with their recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Serve with a glass of Riesling (according to The Brotherhood of Frog Thigh Tasters).

Cuisses de Grenouille aux Herbes (Herbed Frog Legs)Tasting Notes
I tasted the frog legs, and I'm not sure what I'll do with the leftovers. Mind over matter didn't work for me with this meal. If someone prepared them for me and took the meat off the bones and served it in a stew, I would have enjoyed it. The meat is tender and moist with a mouth-feel like a sturdy fish such as monkfish. But all I could think about were little hopping frogs, Kermit the Frog singing "The Rainbow Connection" and this clip from The Triplets of Belleville.

My daughter was animated at dinnertime tonight about her animal rights presentation that included a discussion about banning frog dissection in science class. While she was talking, I pulled out my freshly sautéed frog legs from the refrigerator that she could have for dinner. She was not impressed and stormed out of the room while her sisters ribbed her with "ribbit" sounds. It was a moment you had to be here for, maybe. {Although I offered, I didn't make them try a portion.}
"Some say frog tastes like chicken; in fact Indonesian and French frogs alike taste like frog.
And all dissolve in the mouth like soft rubber.
Craig Copetas
• Article: The end is thigh for the imported frog business
• Article: French tradition is on its last legs
• Radio: Well-Traveled Frogs: France Imports Favorite Dish
• Video: Frog Legs (Warning: shows skinning frogs)
• Website: Frog Legs Review site

Next Class
• Coquilles Saint Jacques Dieppoise (Scallops with Mussels and Shrimp in Cream Sauce) pages 78-79

My Bucket List
• Visit Vittel, France during the 4th weekend in April to see the Frog Festival (or maybe just the spa).
. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $1,208.01 + $13.52 = $1,221.53
($3.38 per serving)

Butter used so far: 10 pounds, 5 tablespoons

. . . . . . . . . .
::Whisk Wednesdays::
We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.
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    Elyse said...

    I have never had frog legs. Can I admit that I'm a little intimidated. I mean, I trust you, Shari, if you say I'll like them, then I'll totally like them. I need to branch out! By the way, I can't believe the 15 day hunting season is so strict!

    angela@spinachtiger said...

    I love how you approached this. Just looking at the legs (they look like little people legs) made my face crunch up and my eyes squint. Loved the video and your story about your daughter. Interesting history lesson. Who knew so many would want to eat frogs?

    Sara said...

    I've never made frog legs before. My brother really likes them, he wraps them in prosciutto!

    RecipeGirl said...

    I had them while in France (along w/ squirrel as well). I'm afraid I would have a tough time working with those little legs... they look so REAL. Like the little frogs were just plucked from their legs!

    Kit Chen said...

    I'm reminded of the National Lampoon album cover.

    And if you don't like frog dissection, better cover your eyes for the "humane treatment" in this video.

    Kristen said...

    I think that it is cool that you made them. I don't think I would have fared as well. I would probably have to blindfold myself to even cook them. My grandmother used to eat them, I kind of wish she would have served them to me when I was young then maybe. You are brave, I am NOT. :)

    Brittany (He Cooks She Cooks) said...

    Frog leg love is alive and well. I went to a Thai restaurant in Columbia, Missouri, tonight where the special was frog legs. They were sold out!

    Engineer Baker said...

    Wow, I'm not sure I could really wrap my head around eating those. I never thought they'd look so, well, frog leggy! But having a fishmonger who can source them - you are one lucky woman. I totally need a fishmonger like that!

    Cathy said...

    This post had me riveted from start to finish. First, I am just a little bit happier today now that I know that an organization such as "The Brotherhood of Frog Thigh Tasters" exists in the world. Second, I can't BELIEVE how much frog legs look like, well, frog legs. And the scene with your poor daughter being ribbited out of the room was just too much! I am going to bookmark this post for those days when I need a good laugh.

    Anonymous said...

    Wow. I've never had frog legs before and wouldn't even know where to buy them. I don't think the fish counter at a regular grocery store would carry them.

    Anyway, good for you for trying them out. I certainly wouldn't have made, although if I was dining out maybe.

    Melissa said...

    Haaa! Loved your blog post. That was funny. I'm so glad you had the same, uh...hesitation about them. lol

    Christelle said...

    Hummmmm, I love frog's legs, what a wonderful post! I ended up here thanks to loonygirl on twitter, I am so grateful, lol!! Brilliant blog :)))
    I made frogs legs in Britain, but nobody wanted to try, appart from a german guy, lol! ahh nevermind!
    I got these legs on a french market, bought on a stick.
    Otherwise, the best bet is either in chinese supermarket or in chinese restaurant, no other choice....

    Anonymous said...

    Those are some gorgeous legs there Shari! Nice and toasty brown...touch of parsley...GREAT job!

    Lynda said...

    This post is so funny and informative. You did a great job! I think I would be on the same side as your daughter.

    Jeff said...

    Nicely done and great information on the whole frog leg industry (I guess that is the phrase I was looking for).

    Anonymous said...

    WOW... im too scared to try frog legs, but your photos are gorgeous!

    Shari said...

    Elyse - Not sure I could recommend them to anyone! I like to try new things, but this one was tough for me. Next time, I'd remove the meat and put it in a stew instead.

    Angela - Who knew, is right!

    Sara - Prosciutto sounds good.

    Lori - They do look "plucked"!

    BoP - Thanks for the links. Watched it all. Hector rocks!

    Kristen - It was a once in a lifetime for me too. Won't be happenin' again!

    Brittany - Sold out! You'll have to get there earlier next time!

    Caitlin - I'm am appreciating Ottawa more and more each week!

    Cathy - That Brotherhood is something else! I found the reading up on it very interesting.

    Wendy - I haven't seen them at my local grocery store either.

    Melissa - I liked your wariness of eating "ankles" in your post!

    Christelle - I'm glad you found me via @loongirl! Skewered frog might be better then seeing those tendons and bones!

    Jeff - It's quite the industry.

    Dorothy - I think I'd rather stick with desserts!

    Thanks everyone for dropping by!

    Jamie said...

    Ok, these frog legs lying there look eerily like my dog lying in the sun, but aside from that they do look scrumptious! And although I live in France, we never eat frog legs and never see them on menus. Funny, huh?

    Can't wait to see the scallop recipe!

    Kayte said...

    I'm passing on this one...I took one look at your photo of the uncookedd frog legs and burst into tears...I had a hard enough time with those quail, I'm passing on the frog legs, but it was interesting reading about all of it on your post...I love the informative bits always!

    NKP said...

    You are a stronger woman than I.
    I admire you for giving them a try.

    Sippity Sup said...

    Girlfriend! Get over it! Frog legs are fabulous. Your frog legs are extra fabulous. Have you not seen "The Triplets Of Belleville"? I am a little disappointed. All that talent, but you are squeamish. No. No. No! Say it isn't so! GREG

    karen said...

    i've had frog legs once before when i was little. i'll admit i did a little bit of a double take when i scrolled down the page!