French cooking terms

French cooking terms

Here is the definitive list of common French culinary terms — a useful partner to cookbooks, or watching your favourite cookery show. If we have missed any let us know.

Allumette

The allumette measures approximately ⅛ in/2 mm by ⅛ in/2 mm by 2½ in/6 cm inches. It's also the starting point for the brunoise.

Bain-marie

A roasting pan or baking dish partially filled with water to allow food to cook more slowly and be protected from direct high heat. Used for custards and terrines.

Batonnet

Batonnet translates to "little stick". The batonnet measures approximately ¼in/5 mm by ¼in/½ mm x 2½-3 inches or about 8cm. It is also the starting point for the small dice.

Bavarois

A creamy pudding made with cream and eggs, then set using gelatin.

Beignets

Small dollops of dough that are fried — very much like fritters.

Beurre Manié

Butter and flour mixed together in equal parts and used to thicken stews, soups, and casseroles.

Beurre Noisette

Browned butter.

Bisque

A smooth, creamy soup made from a base of shellfish stock.

Blanch

To place fruit or vegetables in boiling water so the skin can be removed more easily.

Blanquette

A stew made from meat that has not been browned or fried. Usually refers to stews made of lamb, chicken or veal.

Bouchées

Small puff pastry cases with a savoury filling, usually served as an Hors d'Oeuvre.

Bouillon

A broth or stock, usually a meat, some vegetables and a bouquet garni boiled in water.

Bouquet Garni

A mixture of fresh herbs tied together with string and used to flavour stews, soups etc. It refers to a mix of parsley, bay leaf, thyme (and sometimes celery stalk). The bouquet is removed before serving.

Brule

To burn a food to caramelize the sugar on a foods surface.

Brunoise

Vegetables cut into very small diced pieces, based on a julienne cut, but just turned 90° and diced.

Canapé

An appetizer consisting of a small bread or biscuit base covered with a flavoured topping such as Pâté.

Cartouche

Cartouche is a French term which basically means "scroll" or "packet." It's a paper lid that is used to slow down the reduction of moisture in cooking. A lid only lets a little moisture escape, whereas using no lid lets lots of moisture escape.

Chapelux

Browned breadcrumbs.

Chaud-froid

A French term describing a dish that is first cooked and then chilled for service.

Chiffonade

Rolling up herbs, or leafy greens like spinach and cutting them into very fine shreds.

Chine

To remove the backbone from a rack of ribs.

Choux

Choux Pastry, or Pâte à Choux, is a light pastry dough made from butter, water, flour, and eggs. Instead of a raising agent its high moisture content creates steam during cooking to puff the pastry. Amongst others, choux pastry is used make profiteroles, croquembouches, and éclairs.

Compote

A dessert consisting of fruit stewed in a sugar syrup, originates from the 17th century.

Concassé

A French term for rough chopping ingredients — usually referring to tomatoes.

Consommé

A richly flavoured, clear soup. To achieve this, egg whites are added and the soup is simmered to allow the inpurities to be skimmed off.

Coulis

A thick sauce usually made from one main ingredient, such as raspberry coulis.

Court Bouillon

Flavoured liquid used for cooking fish.

Crêpes

Very thin pancakes.

Croquettes

A mixture of potato with ground cooked meat, fish or poultry formed into balls, patties or other shapes and coated with a breading before frying.

Croustade

Bread piece dipped in butter and baked until it is crisp.

Croûte

Crust. Sometimes refers to a pastry crust, sometimes to toasted or fried bread.

Croûtons

Small cubes of fried, or recooked bread used as a garnish in salads and soups.

Dariole

A small cylindrical mold used for the creation of baked desserts.

Déglacer

To deglaze, or loosen the browned juices and fats from the bottom of a frying pan or saucepan by adding liquid, then bringing to a boil and stirring. The liquid is usually water, wine or stock.

Dégorger

To extract juices from meat, fish or vegetables, usually by salting them, then soaking or washing. It is usually done to remove a strong taste.

Dépouiller

To skim off the skin that accumulates at the top of a stock or sauce.

Duxelles

Finely chopped raw mushrooms, used as a stuffing. Sometimes combined with chopped ham or scallops.

En croute

Wrapped in pastry and then baked in an oven.

Entrecôte

Sirloin steak.

Entrée

The term used to refer to something served before the main course but is used now to refer to the actual main course.

Entremet

A dessert or sweet – but does not include pastries.

Escalope

A thin, boneless slice of meat.

Farce

Stuffing.

Flamber or Flambé

To set an alcohol — usually brandy — on fire.

Frappé

Something that is iced, or set on or in a bed of ice.

Fricassé

A stew made from poultry, meat or rabbit that has a white sauce.

Glace de Viande

Reduced brown stock used to add color and flavour to sauces.

Gratiner or Au Gratin

To sprinkle the surface of a cooked food with breadcrumbs and butter, and sometimes cheese and left brown under heat. The finished food is referred to as au gratin as in au gratin potatoes.

Hors d'Oeuvre

The first course or appetiser.

Jardiniere

Vegetables cut into batons — similar to julienne but thicker.

Julienne

A standard Julienne cut is 4mm x 4mm x 5cm, or ⅛ x ⅛ x 2 inches. ⅛th of an inch is approx. 3mm, but these sizes do vary.

Jus or Jus de Viande

A French word loosely translated into “juice”, but has a more specific meaning than the translation. In French cookery it is primarily a sauce made by diluting the pan juices of a roast with liquid then boiling it in the roasting pan until all of the sediment has absorbed into the stock. Also used to describe thickened or clear brown stock, especially veal. The juices squeezed from raw vegetables or fruits are also referred to as “jus.”

Jus Lié

Thickened gravy.

Liaison

Ingredients used for thickening sauces, soups or other liquids.

Macédoine

A salad of small pieces of mixed vegetables or fruit.

Marmite

French word for a covered earthenware container for soup. The soup is both cooked and served in it. Not to be confused with the product Marmite!

Mirepoix

A mixture of braising vegetables, usually celery, carrots and onions.

Mise en place

Mise en place is translates as "putting in place", as in getting all your preparation in place – tasks like washing mussels, peeling and preparing vegetables or weighing out some of the ingredients in advance.

Moulè-â-manqué

A cake tin that is wider at the base than at the top and only about 2cm or 1inch in depth.

Napper

To coat, mask or cover with something.

Noisette

The word literally means " hazelnuts ", but can also refer to something being nut brown in colour. For example, beurre noisette is butter browned over heat until it becomes a nut brown color. It can also refer to boneless rack of lamb that is rolled, tied and cut into rounds.

Nouvelle Cuisine

A term that refers to the style of cooking that features lighter dishes with lighter sauces and very fresh ingredients.

Panade

A very thick mixture usually made from a combination of flour, butter, and milk that is used as a base for dishes such as soufflés and fish cakes.

Papillote

A wrapping of parchment paper around fish or meat used for cooking. The paper is used to retain moisture.

Parisienne

Refers to potatoes molded into balls with a melon scoop, and fried or roasted.

Pâte

A basic mixture or paste – often refers to uncooked dough, or pastry.

Pâté

A paste made of liver, pork or game.

Paysanne

Vegetables cut into thin slices.

Pâtisserie

A sweet or pastry, it also refers to a cake shop.

Piquer

To insert fat, such as bacon into meat or poultry.

Portefeuille

A French term describing dishes in which the food is stuffed, folded, or placed in layers. Common preparations of this type are omelets, gratins, or stuffed chicken breast.

Poussin

A young chicken.

Quenelle

Quenelle is a minced fish or meat mixture that is formed into small shapes and then poached. It also refers to the shape that the minced mixture is made into.

Ragoût

A stew

Réchauffée

Reheated food.

Repere

Flour mixed with water or egg white and used to seal pans when cooking food slowly. Often used when cooking a ragoût.

Revenir

To quickly fry meats or vegetables in hot fat to warm them through.

Rocher

A rocher, or one-handed quenelle, is a way to give a beautiful oval shape to a homogenous mass of food — like ice cream, sorbet or even beef tartare. The shape is formed by scooping with one spoon and smoothing it with the other (usually the spoons are warm if its a cold mass).

Roux

Melted butter to which flour has been added - used as a thickener for sauces or soups.

Rouille

A garlic and oil emulsion used as flavouring.

Sautoir

A deep frying pan with a lid – used for recipes that require fast frying then slow cooking.

Terrine

A Pâté or similar mixture of minced ingredients is baked or steamed in a loaf shaped container.

Timbale

A dish cooked in a mold that is higher than it is wide and has sloping sides.

Velouté

A type of sauce made from butter, flour, cream and stock.

Vol-au-vent

A large pastry case made of puff pastry that is usually used as a container for creamed dishes, such as creamed chicken.

Comments

Debbie tunnell replied on December 29, 2012 at 20:13

1

You mention Pâte but choux is also an important term.

Mark Anthony A replied on May 07, 2013 at 13:31

2

Thanks for sharing this list! I’ll be co-leading a group of high school students on a language and cooking-based program this summer, and this will be a great introduction for them. In terms of additional terms, how about “batonnet”?

alvin bucsit replied on May 24, 2013 at 09:28

3

It would be better if you’re going to put the exact pronunciation of these words..

Whitney replied on July 09, 2013 at 00:07

4

Great list but I was hoping for more guidance on standard menu terms as well as process terminology. While I understand what coq au vin and cordon bleu mean, it may not be very helpful to the person to whom I forwarded this reference (a colleague visitin rural France who is concerned about interpreting the food choices). Just a point to note, in case you ever decide to update the list.

Chef Joe replied on June 29, 2014 at 22:45

5

Rocher is quite important (as quenelles are for kids)

Add your comment

5 - 1 =
  • Top Food Blogs
Site Map | Legal | KitchenGeekery.com © 2013.