Let's learn from French peasants

French flagRecipes from our nearest continental neighbours have been pushed aside in favour of Italian, Chinese and Indian foods. So it’s time for a revival of French foods as they can always be relied upon to be tasty – a large glug of wine added to each recipe sees to that.

Plus as most of their dishes are based on simple ingredients and herbs you’ll have no problem rustling up a French meal from what’s in your larder.

chickenMany classic French dishes were originally peasant meals, designed to be thrown together in the morning and then cooked slowly through the day, their owner then coming home to hot meal after a day in the fields. Coq au vin – cockerel cooked in wine – is a perfect example of this.

An ancient, stringy old bird would be sacrificed for the pot. Cooked slowly in wine, the meat tenderises and moistens, as well as becoming infusing with wonderful vinous flavours.

To make this dish yourself chop up a chicken, then add onions, mushrooms, garlic, red wine and seasoning and cook in a low oven for an hour. You needn’t cook this all day as modern birds cook more quickly than old cockerels.

Try these le grub-français websites to get you started:

The French Food and Cook

Everything you’ll need for the real French eating experience is here. Suggestions for a range of French meals – the classic dinner party, light meals, express and vegetarian – giving the starter, main course and dessert. If you want to impress, cook using the recipes written in French.

Mouton Cadet labelFrench Wine Guide

Classic wine and food pairings with popular French dishes – simple tables show wine for fish, meat and the top 25 most popular French cheeses. Links to French recipes.

And then some Frenchie wines to follow:

PG Wine Tips

£3.99 and under

There are still some good bottles to be found that cost the same as a couple of National Lottery tickets.

Aldi Baron Saint Jean Vins de Pays Du Gers Blanc

£2.99

A blend of the white grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc result in a light, refreshing wine that tastes of melon and apples. Best with food.

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

Aldi Mâcon-Villages 2009 Chardonnay

£4.99

At the expensive end of the scale for Aldi, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem quite worth the price. It’s okay – fresh apple with an additional sucking-on-a-pebble flavour – in an inoffensive way.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Paul Mas French Marsanne 2010

£7.74 Asda

An interesting and complex wine that’s just arrived in Asda: pineapple cubes and daffodil aromas match to creamy pineapple and apple pie flavours.

Aimery Sieur D’Arques French Limoux

£9.99 Oddbins

This Chardonnay by any other name tastes of lemon meringue with a hint of honey. A light white.

Spar Marquis Santey French Champagne Brut

£13.29

Crystallised fruit flavours of lemon and orange, plus a touch of pastry. Fruity and versatile.