Jul 31
2009

Genius in Simplicity: Concombres au Beurre

in Uncategorized

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” — Julia Child

If you’ve been reading LFM at all during the past week, then you know that Julia Child and I have been doing a bit of hanging out. She has been suffering through my ramblings, walked me through making some Potage Parmentier and Mousseline au Chocolat for dinner, and even helped me throw one whopper of a dinner party. But oh, the abuse isn’t over just yet. I figure she must enjoy my company, because she hasn’t walked out on me yet. For this week’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking challenge, I pulled out a recipe that I’ve been very curious to try–Concombres au Beurre (Baked Cucumbers, p.499).
The idea of baking cucumbers was one that had never occurred to me. I had always thought of the cucumber as a vegetable that you ate raw or pickled. But here Julia was telling me to bake them? The method used in the recipe (a brief salt/vinegar bath) helps draw out the natural moisture content of the cucumbers (so they don’t turn mushy during the baking process) in a way that doesn’t extract flavor in the process. Then the cucumber pieces are tossed in melted butter and herbs and baked for an hour.

The cucumbers come out of the oven looking relatively unchanged from when they went in.

Before

After

They are much more fragrant, the scent of cucumber, butter, and herbs intensified by the heat. I grabbed a fork, pierced a piece with its tines and popped it into my mouth. I was shocked. The flavors were fresh and light, yet rich and flavorful all at the same time. The cucumber flavor was definitely present, but melded perfectly with the butter and herbs. Why hadn’t I ever thought to bake a cucumber? Such a simple idea with such wonderful results. I guess that’s why she’s Julia Child and I’m not.


Concombres au Beurre (Baked Cucumbers)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Makes 3 servings

3 cucumbers, peeled (approximately 8 inches long)
1 Tbsp. wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. minced basil
2 Tbsp. minced chives
Pinch of black pepper

1. Cut the peeled cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
2. Cut into lengthwise strips about 3/8-inch wide and 2-inches long.
3. Toss the cucumbers in a bowl with the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Let stand for at least 30 minutes or for several hours. Drain. Pat dry in a towel.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Toss the cucumbers in the baking dish with the butter, herbs, chives, and pepper. Set uncovered in middle level of preheated oven for about 1 hour, tossing 2 or 3 times (about every 20 minutes), until cucumbers are tender but still have a suggestion of crispness and texture. They will barely color during the cooking.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Semsavblanc July 31, 2009 at 5:12 am

This looks so easy and what a way to surprise your friends next time you cook a roast!

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Bob July 31, 2009 at 5:29 am

They look good. I love cucumbers.

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Amber July 31, 2009 at 6:05 am

I have an abundance of cucumbers in my garden right now, I may be tempted to try this! I love the picture of your herbs, by the way…

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Darina July 31, 2009 at 7:15 am

I love cucumbers. I'm going to have to try this. I would never have thought of baked cucumbers, either, but they do look delicious. The photos are beautiful, R.

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Anonymous July 31, 2009 at 7:24 am

Do you think the vinegar/water bath would work with cucumbers? I've had the worse luck with soggy baked cucumbers.

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Fuji Mama July 31, 2009 at 7:27 am

Anonymous–The recipe is for cucumbers! Do you mean a different vegetable? This should work for anything similar to draw out moisture. Another method is rubbing salt onto veggies, letting them sit, and then squeezing them and drying them off. The salt draws out the moisture. Hope that helps!

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Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction July 31, 2009 at 7:35 am

Definitely not something I would have dreamed up on my own. I have two gigantic cucumbers from my CSA share this week that I had no idea what I was going to do with. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Bettina Groh July 31, 2009 at 9:23 am

When I was a child we had a huge garden and of course the cukes were always abundant and then HUGE. My mother would make her version of stuffed green peppers using the cucumbers: peeling, cutting in half, emptying out the seeds, filling them with meat and rice filling, tie shut with heavy thread and cook them in a tomato sauce. They didn't get mushy and they still tasted like cucumbers. Everyone always sneered at the idea, but we all liked them!
Later as a college student I worked at a "good" restaurant where they occasionally served a chilled cucumber soup !

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Cathy Payne July 31, 2009 at 11:23 am

Hmm, my garden is about to produce a bounty of cucumbers, and we're still eating last year's bread and butter pickles. We already have plenty of basil and chives in our herb garden, and I would never be caught without plenty of butter in the house. I will have to give this recipe a try! Thanks for the lovely photos.

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Jenn July 31, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I never would have thought to bake a cucumber. I'm in the same boat as you. I always thought it's one of those veggies best eaten in it's raw form. I must give this a try.

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Frieda July 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm

You are uh~mazing! Just sent you an award!

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Bob July 31, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Huh, I never would have thought to cook cucumbers either. I'm definitely trying that, it sounds so good.

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Helene July 31, 2009 at 9:12 pm

What a great recipe you made for the challenge this week. This looks delicious. I'll have to try.

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La Chauve-Souris August 1, 2009 at 12:38 am

never thought about baking cucumber but thats an idea….

xx

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Kayte August 1, 2009 at 6:56 am

I would never have thought of this either! It looks great for a side dish, however, and I will make this, inspired by your post, photos, and recommendation. I didn't get to participate in MTAOFC this week as we are out of town at a swim meet with my son for five days and I just did not get organized enough to get it all done before I left. I will be back next week, however, so I will be excited to see what you choose for the recipe next week. I am putting your choice this week on my list of recipes to try.

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Kathy August 1, 2009 at 8:51 am

I had a similar shocking moment the first time I put lettuce into a stirfry. I'd just always thought it was a salad ingredient and 'cooking' it would be bizarre.

I'll have to try the cucumbers! They look yummy.

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She-Fit August 1, 2009 at 10:32 am

YUM! This looks great. Never would have thought to do this with cucumbers.

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krismakes August 3, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Thank you so much for telling us about baked cucumbers, wow. They look delicious, my mouth is watering. Great idea for some variety in the roast veggie department. Must must try this.

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kirsty_girl August 5, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Would this taste good with Japanese cucumbers?

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Fuji Mama August 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm

kirsty_girl–Yes! This would definitely work with Japanese cucumbers! The nice thing about using those is you won't have to deseed them!!

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Dana August 18, 2009 at 9:02 am

Love your Julia posts. Beautiful food & writing. The Concombres have also topped my list of what I want to try from MTA (agreed, the book is addictive) because hot cucumbers are so hard to wrap my head around. They look luscious. Love the Knopf contest mostly for the new sites I'm finding through it! Lovely blog –

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Liz - Meal Makeover Mom August 29, 2009 at 8:35 am

I have been meaning to make this since seeing the movie. I have all the ingredients in the fridge so I'm good to go. Can't wait to see what my boys think of it!

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