Grenouille: French for Frog Legs

Grenouille: Frog legs
stu_spivack / Flickr

The word grenouille (pronounced "gruh-noo-EE") is the French word for frog, and in the culinary arts, the term grenouilles (or cuisses de grenouilles) refers to frog legs.

Frog legs are one of two French foods that, at least when I was a kid, the mere mention of which would invariably cause everyone to break into borderline hysterical giggles of disbelief (the other being, of course, snails). 

But that's because I'm not French.

Nor am I from the South, and for many kids growing up in either of those places, the idea of frog legs is undoubtedly somewhat less exotic.

And it so happens that frog legs are really good. I was going to say that they taste like chicken, but that's not entirely true. Their texture is very much like chicken. And the breading (if prepared that way) tastes like breading, and the seasonings and flavorings all taste like whatever they taste like, and many times you've tasted all of those things in conjunction with chicken. But frogs taste like frogs — which is to say, slightly swampy and fishy. Like if chicken came from a pond.

It's hard to describe, but hopefully you're curious enough that when you have the chance, you'll try them.

The legs are the only edible part of the frog, but they can be quite meaty. They need to be skinned and then soaked in cold water before being cooked. The skin is fairly loose and easy to get off.

I say this not because you're likely to ever do this on your own. But it's true. And while the skin is, I suppose, edible, it's tough and slimy and, well, froggy. Not to say that one should shy away from the reality of whatever one is eating. But as I say, it's also quite tough.

You need to snip off the feet as well.


One classic French preparation of frog legs, called cuisses de grenouilles à la Provençale, involves dredging the frogs legs in seasoned flour and then sautéeing them in butter or olive oil with garlic and chopped parsley. Another technique is to first blanch the frogs legs and then bread them and deep fry them.

Another preparation, which is somewhat more complicated, involves simmering the frog legs in white wine, along with butter, lemon and mushrooms. When the frog legs are cooked, they and the mushrooms are removed and set aside while the sauce is reduced and then thickened with a liaison — a blend of egg yolks and cream.

Finally, when the sauce is thickened, the frogs legs and the mushrooms are returned to the sauce and warmed until heated through, and then finished with butter, lemon and fresh chopped parsley. This preparation is known as cuisses de grenouilles à la poulette.