It is no secret that French cuisine usually has meat as its center piece. (Vegetarians look away now!) From raw meats like tartare to slow-cooked dishes like the pot au feu, dinner in France usually involves some dish featuring beef, chicken, pork, duck or even rabbit.
With just a touch of herbs and spices, many of these dishes have traveled from France to become famous the world over. So let’s have a look at the best French meat dishes out there, shall we? Allons-y!
1. Steak tartare
Tartare is a French culinary term, referring to a number of dishes served raw, rather than cooked. It usually involves raw meat in a steak tartare, often with a raw egg on top, as well as a mix of worcester sauce, fresh seasonings and herbs.
It is usually served with a light salad and fries for a light lunch or dinner. Another version of the tartare is with fish chopped or shredded into small pieces. You can find the recipe for the steak tartare and salmon tartare here.
2. Boeuf Bourguignon
In the Old Country, you perhaps couldn’t afford your ideal cut of beef. The answer was a hearty and rich stew, the traditional boeuf bourguignon.
Boeuf Bourguignon is traditionally from the region of Burgundy (Bourgogne) in France. So it stands to reason that they would want to combine the two delicacies that they are most famous for: Burgundy beef and Burgundy wine.
The typical cut of meat that is used in boeuf bourguignon is not the tenderloin, but the more affordable beef chunk.
Slow cooking meat for several hours, along with vegetables and wine, this is a French meat dish that has become a true classic. You can get the recipe for boeuf bourguignon here.
Dating back to the 1300s from the Languedoc region of France, the cassoulet has been around a long time. It is a delectable meat stew made with beans, duck meat, and pork sausages which are all traditionally slow-cooked for hours.
The word cassoulet comes from the earthenware casserole it is cooked in, the cassolle or cassolo, which is made by local potteries nearby.
Aficionados of the cassoulet will note however that is a “guerre des cassoulet” (meaning “war of the cassoulet”) between the different towns that are well known for their cassoulet: Castelnaudary, Carcassone and Toulouse.
Each has its own variation, with differences between the sausage used, how long it is cooked and more. Each year cook-offs are usually held to see who takes home top prize with bragging rights. You can read more about the recipe for Cassoulet here.
4. Boudin Blanc
Known as the “white sausage”, boudin blanc is a mix of cream, breadcrumbs, fat, starch, and boiled pork or chicken, all stuffed into a sausage casing.
It is a dish that dates back to the Middle ages, when it became particularly popular in Lyon. (Its cousin, the Boudin noir, includes dried pork blood.)
It became a staple across France during tough times like war and famines, when meat was at a shortage and people had to make do. It also became a Christmas tradition, eaten before the large dinner.
Today, it is a much loved delicacy all across Europe and parts of North America, available at local butchers and in gourmet food stores. You can read more about cooking boudin blanc here.
5. Coq au Vin
If you don’t eat beef and are looking for an an alternative to the boeuf bourguignon, the classic coq au vin with chicken is everything you can ask for.
A chicken slow-cooked with vegetables in a stew with wine sauce to tenderize it and bring out the flavors. You can get the recipe for coq au vin here.
6. Roti de boeuf (Roast beef)
However, the gravy juices of roast beef are just as delicious and can be used as a sauce as well. You can get the recipe for this roast beef with gravy here.
7. Blanquette de veau
All across France, in brasseries up and down the country, you will find the blanquette de veau. It is one of the grand classics of French gastronomy, made with veau, meaning veal.
It is a very simple dish, made with meat, vegetables, and a white sauce. Blanquette comes from the French word blanche meaning “white” and refers to the sauce made from cream and butter, or flour.
These days there are plenty of top chefs putting their own spin on it, including using chicken or pork instead, since veal isn’t the easiest to find. You get find the recipe for creamy chicken blanquette here.
8. Carbonade flamande
In the North of France and Belgium, the classic meat dish for centuries has been the Carbonade Flamande. Similar to the Boeuf Bourguignon, it is called Stoofvlees in the Flemish language, and is also sometimes referred to as a Flemish stew.
Traditionally slow-cooked for hours into a rich and hearty meal, it is made with beef, onions, leek and dark beer instead of wine. You can get the recipe for carbonade flamande here.
9. Magret de canard
A popular delicacy in France is duck meat, with magret de canard being one of the country’s most famous dishes.
It originates from the Occitan region, and is a fillet of lean meat cut from the breast of a fat goose or duck. It is usually served cut into thin slices, after being grilled or pan-fried, or cooked like a steak.
10. Roti de porc
You can’t go wrong with a good chunk of pork. And with this classic French-style recipe with a touch of dijon mustard, the pork loin roast easily kicks it up a notch.
Called Rôti de porc de Dijon, it is dish that is often served on occasions like a long lazy Sunday lunch, with all your friends and family gathered around. You can get the recipe for roti de porc here.
11. Daube de Boeuf
It is quite similar to the traditional beef bourguignon, but with an added tartness to remind you of a summer on the Mediterranean coast.
The sweet carrots and tomato paste balance the sourness of the olives, bringing out the aromas of the beef. You can get the recipe for daube de boeuf here.
12. Pot au feu
Pot au feu is a traditional French dish including meat, vegetables and herbs all cooked together in a nourishing stew. The name “pot au feu” in French means “pot on fire”, and as you can imagine, the recipe dates back centuries.
In the Middle ages, it was an open flame in a large fireplace kitchen, slow-cooking meat and vegetables on a boil until it became a hearty ragoût.
13. Chicken provencale
Typically it includes red and green peppers, potatoes, chicken and bacon lardons.
14. Steak frites
A traditional dish that you can always find at the local brasserie in France is of course the steak frites.
As its name implies it consists of a delicious steak paired with French fries, usually served with a small salad on the side. The steak is usually rump steak and cooked to the person’s liking: saignant (rare), à point (medium), or bien cuit (well done).
With a sauce like mayonnaise on the side, this classic dish is often served at lunch, along with its cousin, the moules frites (mussels and fries).
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about classic French dishes. A bientôt!