Be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, and anything in between, there is always a savory item from France. I personally love their desserts, from cakes to bread. I just love them!
French cuisine must have not been very popular if not for the amazing techniques that the French do that add incredible flavors and textures to the dishes. Some people actually find some recipes intimidating because of how the end result looks like. But in all seriousness, French cuisine is not really that difficult. Even if you are from anywhere else in the world, the following tips from world-renowned chefs can enhance your cooking so it may be as delightful as the gastronomical French cuisine in downtown Paris.
Mise en Place
This is one of the most basic concepts of French cooking. It literally means “everything in its place.” This concept refers to a well-organized preparation and setup of the kitchen before cooking can ensue. This makes cooking efficient as ingredients are appropriately cut, spices and seasonings close at hand, and all necessary tools for cooking are available within an arm’s reach.
This is also probably the reason why most French chefs can easily pull a dish together, no matter how tricky it may seem to be. So if you yourself are interested in French cuisine, start practicing mise en place. Prepare the pans, mixing bowls, tools, and other equipment before you start. And most importantly, make sure that all the ingredients have been measured accordingly as well as peeled, cut, sliced, and grated beforehand. This should make everything much easier for you.
A particular French recipe may require a specific cut. You must know how to julienne, the French traditional cutting technique that requires one to square-cut vegetables then cut them into even thin strips. You can also chiffonade leafy vegetables and herbs for garnishing.
Other classical knife cuts include allumete, batonette, brunoise, madecoine, paysanne, parisienne, olivette, and noisette. There are more actually, but these are the most popular ones.
The term braising came from the French word ‘braiser’, which is a combination-cooking method that involves both wet and dry heats. Before anything is braised, it is usually sauteed or seared first at a high temperature.
Through braising, food is cooked over low heat in a covered pot. The process will unlock the flavor. This is often used for meat, although it can be used for cooking vegetables also. You can now apply a quick sear to the brown external portion that will produce flavorful fat. Continue heating over slow fire for a couple of hours in a seasoned liquid such as red wine.
This cooking technique is an example of a moist-heat cooking method. Poaching involves submerging ingredients in liquid without using any fat. It is excellent for cooking delicate foods like fish, vegetables, and fruit.
The popular sous-vide is an example of poaching wherein meat is sealed in plastic and cooked in temperature-controlled water over a specific period until the preferred level of doneness is achieved.
Keep in mind that poaching is different from moist heat cooking methods like boiling and simmering since it utilizes low temperature which is needed in preparing delicate food items.
In this method, vegetables and other ingredients are pan-fried very quickly over medium to high heat in a thin coating of oil or butter.
This is a cooking technique that uses direct exposure to radiant heat to cook food. It uses direct heat flame to quickly cook food, creating a bubbling and crisp outer surface of the food. This is very similar to roasting.
Traditionally, a confit is a technique used to preserve meat by cooking them in its own fat. Nowadays, this method can be used in cooking vegetables too. As long as they are slow-cooked in fat at a low temperature.
This has become a popular cooking technique wherein a sauce or pan liquid with flammable alcohol is brought to very high heat to ignite the alcohol. The alcohol burns in a matter of seconds, leaving a distinctive flavor.
This cooking method uses built-up steam inside a wrapped parchment paper or aluminum foil to prepare easy-to-cook foods like fish, vegetables, and chicken breast. Using this method will avoid overcooking food.
You probably must have done some of these techniques already. Some of them may have become indispensable in your home cooking. And by mastering all the other techniques, you may not need to look for an expensive French restaurant to enjoy French cooking.