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Food Forum

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Frogs' legs

Our story last week about the humongous frog that visits a Clifton Park family every summer got me to thinking about frogs’ legs.

I’m not suggesting they dispatch their swimming pool visitor so that they can eat her legs. Plump as they were in the photo we published, they wouldn’t make much of a meal on their own.

It’s just that the story provided me with an entrée to the topic of frogs’ legs.

If you haven’t tried them — and many people are skittish at the idea — you’re missing a treat. Depending on how they’re prepared, they do indeed taste like chicken. Their flavor is delicate, enhanced by whatever you’re cooking them in — like white wine or Calvados (French apple brandy), which Graham Kerr uses in his recipe.

Tradition has it that the British disdained the French for lots of reasons in the early 1800s but they liked to focus on their love affair with frogs’ legs. So they began referring to them as “frogs.”

Auguste Escoffier, the French culinary master, is said to have had difficulty introducing frogs’ legs to the English when he was in charge of food at a London hotel. He was able to get the Prince of Wales to sample them by giving them the pretentious name cuisses de nymphes aurore — "legs of the nymphs of dawn.”

Frogs’ legs migrated -- that is, the dish did -- with the French to Louisiana where they were in plentiful supply. Chef Paul Prudhomme in “The Prudhomme Family Cookbook of Old-Time Louisiana Recipes” (2006) reminisces about them. “Several times each year, Dad and the boys went froggin’ so Mom Prudhomme could cook frogs’ legs.”

Frogs' legs can be caramelized or crisped or rendered tender with vegetables.

Classically, they are prepared with a garlic butter and white wine sauce.

One recipe I found calls for the little legs to be arranged in such a way as to suggest the frogs were performing a balletic plie when they met their end, which is a little too macabre for my taste.

You can find a good recipe for caramelized frogs’ legs at the Web site which is here.

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August 12, 2009
11:22 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

So is there a convalescent home for all those legless frogs? Little froggie wheelchairs? Crutches? Rehab programs? Amphibians with Disabilities Act?

August 12, 2009
11:29 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

No rehab for amphibians, sadly. It's all about your ranking in the food chain. But your question reminds me of a story I'll have to tell you some time about the pig with the wooden leg.

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