French Cooking Terms All Chefs Should Know

Confit: A confit is a term for slow cooking in oils and fats, like a low-temperature version of frying. “Confit” comes from the French word for “to prepare.”

Cuisson: “Cuisson” is simply the French word for “baking” and is used by chefs to refer to the quality of the bake or the cooking process and the skill of the chef. Something that is overcooked or undercooked would not have a good cuisson.

Dégorge(r): A method of removing juices from meat and vegetables (often fish). This method involves salting the meat and then soaking it in water and is usually done to remove strong or overwhelming flavors. 

Dépouille(r): Removing the fatty layer of “skin” that appears on the tops of broths, stews, and sauces.

En croute: Refers to food that is wrapped in dough or a pastry and baked.

En papillote: Refers to food that is wrapped in parchment paper or foil so it will cook in its own steam.

Flambé(r): A method of brûléeing food by adding alcohol (usually brandy) and then lighting it on fire to burn out the alcohol.

Fondre (fondue): The French word for “to melt.” The past participle form, “fondue” usually refers to melted cheese or chocolate that is used as a communal condiment.

Frappe(r): The French word for “to hit” or “to strike.” This word is often used to refer to something that has been put through an ice bath or blended with ice.

Gratin(ée): The French word for “to grill.” This word usually refers to a method of browning that involves adding breadcrumbs and cheese to a dish and then browning it in the broiler.

Quadrillage: The method of grilling meat and vegetables to create a grid pattern from the grill marks.

Sauté(e)(r): From the French word for “to jump,” sautéing simply refers to the act of flipping a pan to make the ingredients “jump.” (Pictured below) 

Sous vide: From a French phrase that refers to something in a vacuum, sous vide is a method of cooking that involves sealing food in air-tight plastic containers and submerging in hot water in order to cook the food evenly and thoroughly to prevent burning or overcooking.

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