We get it: The last thing you want to do when you step into the kitchen is start trying to translate intimidating French cooking techniques. So you might be surprised to learn you're already using a few of these classic methods (like in today's Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Parchment.)
Here are five easy techniques that will help you impress guests, expand your cooking vocabulary and create even more delicious meals.
En Papillote—Pronounced "ahn-poppy-YOTE" and translated as "in parchment," en papillote is a method where the food is sealed in a pouch made of parchment or foil. The food steams in its natural juices or added moisture (we suggest wine).
En croute—This term refers to food that is wrapped in pastry dough and baked in the oven. One of the most popular en croute recipes is Beef Wellington. While that might be a bit too over-the-top for our kitchen, we do love trying different ingredients to make these easy, compact hand pies. Next time you make this recipe, tell guests they're having beef and potatoes en croute—you'll be taking dinner to another level with a little renaming.
Frenching—Did you ever notice how the bones on a rib roast are completely clean? That's not natural; it's called "frenching." For presentation purposes, some chefs cut away the meat and scrape the bones clean with a sharp paring knife. You can do it at home with a little elbow grease and time or just ask your butcher to do all the dirty work for you (it's worth it).
Quadrillage—If you're a keen griller, you know that achieving those distinctive cross-hatch grill marks on a piece of meat are key to a good barbecue presentation. Quadrillage is the name given to that grid of grill lines. To get the best quadrillage, make sure the grill is very hot. Place the meat diagonally on the grill. Once you have your first set of lines, turn the meat 90 degrees.
Confit—You've probably heard of duck confit. This method usually involves curing meat and then cooking it at a low temperature in its own fat, and was originally used as a way to preserve food (duck confit can be stored in the fridge for a month). You can also confit food in olive oil (which is good because we don't usually have loads of duck fat lying around). Try making Onion and Shallot Confit (below) to add flavor to your next dish.