Everyday French Food
Bouchons au Thon are a bit difficult to explain. I guess I’d call them tuna puffs for lack of a better word, but that doesn’t do them justice.
They’re incredibly easy to make. You mash some canned tuna and a few other ingredients in a bowl, pour the mixture into muffin tins, and bake for 25 minutes or so.
The end result is rich but not cloying, with a hint of the sea that somehow doesn’t become fishy. It’s not too “eggy” either, which is a good thing in my opinion. (I wasn’t looking for a crustless tuna quiche after all.) The flavors just blend together perfectly, turning the ingredients into a sum greater than their individual parts.
Really, Bouchons au Thon are unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. In a very good way.
The Cookbook (Kind-of): A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg.
In her memoir, Molly Wizenberg waxes eloquent about Bouchons au Thon, which she ate for the first time as an exchange student in Paris, and subsequently used to seduce a gorgeous young Frenchman.
In case you’re looking for a parallel between Wizenberg’s life and mine, you might as well stop. I have never been to Paris, do not know any gorgeous young Frenchmen, and would not be trying to seduce them even if I did.
However, I am admittedly a bit of a Molly Wizenberg addict. I adore her storytelling abilities, presented first in her award-winning blog Orangette, and next in a surprisingly down-to-earth Bon Appetit column. When I heard she had published her first book, I promptly added it to my Christmas list, and devoured it in a single day.
The Recipe: Bouchons au Thon
Other Menu Items: Green salad with French vinaigrette, blanched Haricots Verts (Trader Joe’s carries an excellent frozen version…and how could I pass up the chance to serve Haricots Verts with Bouchons au Thon?!)
Cooking It Up:
You can have this on the table in less than 45 minutes, and that’s generous. The baking time provides an opportunity to make the salad and cook the green beans.
I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe for cost and supply reasons. We thought it was delicious anyway. I’m listing the original ingredients in parentheses, in case you’d like to experiment.
Preheat oven to 350 and set an oven rack to the middle position.
Open 6 oz of chunk light tuna in water and drain it very well. (Note – Most American tuna cans are 5 oz. I opened 2 cans and fed the excess tuna to the cats who whip themselves into a frenzy as soon as they hear the can opener. If you don’t have cats, I’m sure the recipe would be fine with just 5 oz.)
Put the tuna in a medium-sized bowl and mash it thoroughly with a fork so no large chunks remain. Lightly beat 3 large eggs in a separate bowl and add to tuna along with 1 cup finely shredded Swiss (or Gruyere) cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream (or crème fraiche), 3 TB tomato paste, ¼ cup finely chopped onion, ½ tsp dried basil (or 2 TB finely chopped Italian parsley) and ¼ tsp salt. Stir and mash with the fork until completely combined.
Spoon the mixture evenly into 8 lightly greased muffin cups. Bake until the bouchons are set and slightly browned, between 20 and 30 minutes depending on your oven. Let the muffin tin cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove bouchons from the tin and serve warm or at room temperature. They will sink a bit in the middle as they cool, but that’s okay.
Depending on what else you’re serving, you can assume 2 to 3 bouchons per person.
The Bottom Line: A yummy, unique, light and fairly healthy meal that’s both cheap and easy to make. I’d love to try it sometime with Gruyere and crème fraiche, but this version exceeded our expectations! According to Chris, they heat up surprisingly well in the microwave – the outer crust keeps them from drying out. Try 20 seconds followed by another 20 seconds for a light, easy lunch.
Next step: I’m looking forward to trying an appetizer version of bouchons using mini muffin tins.
Until next time,