15 Classic, Budget-Friendly French Dishes
French cuisine has a reputation for costly ingredients and time-consuming technique. Yet many favorite dishes have peasant-food origins, making use of cheap cuts of meat, abundant vegetable and herb gardens, and long cooking times to develop flavor. Bastille Day on July 14 is the perfect excuse to prepare a classic French menu, but these 15 French recipes can be attempted any time of year. They feature humble and inexpensive ingredients and range from simple to more complex.
The ultimate peasant food, cassoulet is primarily cheap and nourishing beans dotted with meat, vegetables, and herbs, and slow cooked to create layers of flavor. Traditionally, cooks used whatever meat was available, often duck and sausage made from the leftovers of pricier cuts. Vegetarian versions with mushrooms in lieu of the animal protein are just as tasty. A cassoulet recipe from Serious Eats is not hard or expensive but requires time and patience.
The base of this beloved dish is onions -- and lots of them -- which are super cheap at any time of year. Cooked slowly to a dark brown, the onions become oh so satisfying when topped with crusty bread and Gruyère cheese and then baked to a gooey finish. This soup is all about using the best onions available and completing each step with care, as laid out in a recipe at Serious Eats. Make beef broth at home from leftover bones for the best flavor and lowest price.