A Short List of French Menu Terms
A specialty of the Gascony region, confit is a preserved food item, usually a meat like duck, goose, or pork. The meat is salted and cooked slowly in its own fat. It is then packed into a pot and covered with the cooking fat, which works as a seal
and preservative. Confit as a preparation is not applied to meat alone. For example, a head of garlic or a lemon can be cooked and preserved in oil or lard.
Consommé, a clarified broth made from meat or fish stock, can be served hot or cold or used as a base for soups and sauces.
Originally coulis referred to the juice of cooked meat, but now the definition is broader. A coulis is a thick purée or sauce, which can be made from fruits or vegetables -- like tomatoes or raspberries -- as well as meat. Coulis can
also describe a thick, puréed seafood soup.
Fumet is the name for a variety of concentrated liquids that are used to enhance the flavor or body of stocks and sauces. Fumets are made by boiling chicken or fish or mushrooms or vegetables (depending on the kind of fumet you're
making) in stock or wine.
When herbs or fruit or tea leaves are steeped in a hot liquid, like water or milk, the result is an "infusion." (All teas are infusions.)
Jus, the French word for juice, can refer to fruit, vegetable juices, and meat juices. When a dish (generally a meat dish) is served au jus, it is served with its own juices.
Shellfish may be prepared à la nage, literally "swimming." They are cooked in a court-bouillon flavored with herbs and served hot or cold in this broth.
A thin, oval piece of meat, usually veal or beef, that is quickly sautéed or grilled.
French for a small, young chicken.
Food that has been fried to a crisp.
For the French preparation, roulade, meat is thinly sliced and rolled around a savory filling. The packet is secured with a string or pick, browned, then braised or baked in stock or wine. In
Italy, a dish made with this same technique is called braciola and in Germany, rouladen. When a roulade is on the dessert menu, it is an airy egg-white mix, like a soufflé, that has been spread in a jelly roll pan and baked
until firm but moist. This is slathered with a sweet fruit or custard filling and rolled up.
- Terrine (France)
A terrine is a molding dish used for any sort of pâté (coarsely or smoothly ground meat, fish, mushrooms -- whatever). It used to be that when a pâté was served in this dish, it was called a terrine. Today, the terms
pâté and terrine are used pretty much interchangeably.
- Timbale (France)
- A timbale is a drum-shaped, tapered mold, as well as the dish cooked in such a mold. To make one, a custard, risotto, or forcemeat mixture is pressed into the timbale mold and
baked. Once turned out of the mold, the dish is usually served with a sauce like béchamel.
- Tournedos (France)
Tournedos is a piece of beef about 1 inch thick and 2-1/2 inches in diameter that has been cut from the tenderloin. It is a very lean cut of beef.