The first time I had crème fraîche was while I was living in France. Actually, that’s the only time I have ever had it because they don’t really make it here in the US. Sure, restaurants dollop some cream over berries and say it’s crème fraîche, but it’s not the same. In France, the texture is thicker than heavy cream but thinner than sour cream and tastes buttery. It comes in a carton like you often see for chicken stock and when I had it, my French mom served it with pasta. She placed a heaping spoonful of capellini pasta on each of our plates and then passed around the crème fraîche and a plate of smoked salmon so we could each add however much we liked. It was delicious and impossible for me to recreate when I came back to the US. Until now.
Whole Foods sells tubs of crème fraîche. If it sits out of the fridge for a few minutes and you stir it up to thin it out a bit, it is just like what I remember from France. Since I was going to the yucky grocery store across the street to pick up last minute ingredients to finish off the dish, I wasn’t going to buy their [not fresh] smoked salmon. Instead I picked up some mushrooms and shallots to sauté and used some leftover basil to finish off the dish. The crème fraîche just adds a thin coat to the pasta so it’s not overindulgent like a cream sauce but has a little more substance and flavor than butter or oil. If you can find, I recommend giving crème fraîche the opportunity to prove itself here on American soil.
|I served my pasta with chicken that I cut nugget size, seasoned with red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and paprika, and cooked in oil. When they’re this size, it only takes four minutes to cook the nuggets til they’re perfectly juicy.|