Yes, frog legs come from those slippery amphibians that live in our yards and ponds. And yes, they can be cooked into a delicious dish–just ask your favorite Parisian friend, and you’re likely to elicit a long discussion about the pure deliciousness of frog legs. They are, to be sure, a true staple of the French cuisine, along with sautéed snails, croissants, and the famous Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame.
Of course, frog legs can be cooked in a variety of ways, not all of them French (per se): they can be sautéed, deep fried, oven-baked, and grilled, to name just a few of the cooking methods. Beyond France, they are a popular dish in Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Indonesia, and India. They are also popular in parts of Portugal, Spain, Albania, Slovenia, and Greece.
But in the popular imagination, frog legs are a deeply French phenomenon, right up there with the Eiffel Tower and a fine Cabernet. So, if you’re going to cook some up, you may as well go back to the classics and do as the French do. One traditional French recipe explained below, involves frying and seasoning with a mix of spices, brandy, and white wine. Read on to find out how to make this delicacy at home.
1. First, gather the necessary ingredients
You will need 20 small frog legs, one cup of flour, four tablespoons of butter, salt, black pepper, three minced garlic cloves, two tablespoons of chopped basil, two tablespoons of chopped chives, four tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, four tablespoons of finely chopped fresh tarragon, four teaspoons of capers, half a cup of white wine, a quarter cup of Worcestershire sauce, and a quarter cup of sour cream. You should also have two sliced lemons, a loaf or two of warmed fresh bread (preferably French!), and wine to serve with the meal (because what kind of French meal doesn’t have wine!).
You will also need a saucepan and a frying pan.
2. Warm the brandy
Pour the brandy into the saucepan and warm it up on low heat. Set it aside to add to the dish just before serving.
3. Prepare the frog legs
Make sure your frog legs are dry, then cover them lightly with flour. Be sure that you’ve covered every surface then be sure to shake off any excess flour.
4. Fry the frog legs
Add the butter to the frying pan. Then put in the flour-covered frog legs and fry them gently. Add garlic to the frog legs and fry on each side for about two minutes at a time. Add in the remaining herbs (basil, chives, parsley, tarragon, and capers). It’s important to make sure that the frog legs are fully cooked (that is, nothing pink inside) in order to kill any bacteria and avoid illness!
5. Add the brandy and remaining ingredients to season it up
Turn off the heat from under the saucepan, and add the warmed brandy to the frying pan where you sautéed the frog legs and herbs. Shake up the pan to make sure everything is mixing well. Then pour in the half cup of white wine. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and allow to cook for about four minutes. Now add a dash of salt and black pepper as well as the sour cream and Worcestershire sauce. You may also consider adding another splash of dry white wine to taste.
Serve alongside the lemons, warm fresh bread, and wine (red is preferable, but white will do). Your guests will probably want to dig in with their hands, so no utensils should be necessary, though you should definitely have them available. And of course, there should be plenty of napkins!
If you’re a novice in the kitchen and scared of frying, there’s a simpler way to prepare frog legs using your oven. Pre-heat to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then spice up each leg with salt and pepper and cover in flour. Heat up some butter in a saucepan for about four minutes (until brown), then add in some garlic, parsley, and squeezed lemon juice, allowing the ingredients to simmer in the heat for several minutes. Place the flour-covered legs in a baking dish, then pour over the sauce and allow to bake for 30-35 minutes. Again, make sure the frog legs are fully cooked before serving, as under-cooked meat presents a considerable risk of food-borne illness.