The Foodist: Frog Legs in Watercress Cream
If you have never tried frogs legs, or if you have only eaten them fried (as they are usually prepared), this recipe is a revelation. Flavored by both the tender bones and meat of the legs, the sumptuous cream soup delivers the meat, lean and moist, simmered to exceptional tenderness.
It is also a beautiful soup. The watercress leaves cannot completely purée due to their short cooking time. This retains their fresh flavor and the vivid color as well. The soup becomes a pale green flecked with dark green bits.
Sylvaner wine is sometimes difficult to find in the United States, but often a nice, crisp Alsatian white of Pinot Blanc grapes is blended with some Sylvaner. That wine is perfect for this soup and for sipping, too.
- ¼ Cup unsalted butter
- 18 Pair small frogs’ legs
- 1 Shallot, finely minced
- ½ Cup long-grain white rice
- 6 to 7 Cups water
- 1 Bottle (750 ML.) Alsatian Sylvaner (a white fruity wine)
- I tsp salt
- 4 Cups watercress leaves, or 2 cups each watercress and sorrel leaves
- 2 Egg yolks
- 2 Cups crème fraîche or heavy cream
- Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
- Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the frogs legs and shallot and cook, stirring gently, until the shallot is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rice, 6 cups of the water, the wine, and the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the rice is very tender, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a small baking pan in a 250°F oven. Remove the stems from the watercress (and sorrel) leaves. Reserve a few watercress leaves for garnish. Add the leaves to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes more.
- Take the frogs legs out of the pot and remove the meat from the bones. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bones and place the meat in the preheated baking pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and return to the oven. Working with 1 or 2 ladlefuls at a time, purée the soup in a blender or food processor, processing each batch 30 seconds until very smooth. Return the purée to the soup pot and reheat.
- Whisk together the egg yolks and crème fraîche in a small bowl. Whisk in a ladleful or two of the hot puréed soup. Slowly add the egg mixture to the soup while whisking constantly. Add the reserved meat from the frogs legs and as much of the remaining 1 cup water as needed to achieve a good consistency. Reheat gently over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow to boil.
- Taste and add more salt if needed and the white pepper. Serve in heated soup plates and garnish with the reserved watercress leaves.