Glossary of Terms
If you’re a mom, then you know how important it is to provide your family with nutritious, delicious meals. But when you’re shopping for meat, do you know what all of the different terms mean? This glossary will help make sense of everything from “al dente” to “IQF.” With this information, you’ll be able to choose the best meats for your family’s health and budget. Thanks for reading!
Italian term describing pasta that is cooked until just firm.
Basic knife cut – ¼ inch × ¼ inch × 2½ inches.
A container filled with hot water used during the cooking process, such as with crème brulee. Can also hold finished product.
Also known as: water bath
To cook by dry heat (usually in an oven).
Used to line pans before baking or cooking and to make piping bags.
Also known as: parchment paper
Mat made from bamboo sticks tied together with cotton string. Essential when preparing rolled sushi.
Generally refers to grilling done outdoors or over an open charcoal or wood fire. Specifically, barbecue refers to long, slow direct-heat cooking, including basting with a barbecue sauce.
A technique where meat is wrapped in a layer of fat before cooking. Pork fatback and bacon are commonly used for barding.
To moisten foods with pan drippings or other sauce while cooking to prevent drying and add flavor.
Basic knife cut – ½ inch × ½ inch × 2½-3 inches.
Uncooked mixture containing flour, liquid, and other ingredients, thin enough to pour.
To mix rapidly to incorporate as much air as possible.
To immerse in rapidly boiling water and allow to cook briefly to seal in flavor and color.
To incorporate two or more ingredients together.
Technique where a pie shell or pastry case is partially or completely baked before filling is added.
Also known as: pre-baking
To heat a liquid until bubbles break on the surface.
Heavy steel knob located at the front of a chef’s knife handle where it meets the spine of the blade. It balances the knife and helps avoid hand fatigue.
To remove bones from poultry, meat, or fish.
A bundle of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, and bay leaves, that is tied together and added to soups, stews, and sauces to flavor them (removed before serving).
To cook by browning in fat, then simmering in a small quantity of liquid in a covered container.
To coat with some type of crumbs or meal (such as breadcrumbs or cornmeal) before cooking.
To cook on a grill or rack over or under strong, direct heat.
To cook over high heat, usually on top of the stove, to cause food to turn brown.
Basic knife cut – 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch.
To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a golden syrup.
A cover (often parchment paper or plastic wrap) that is pressed onto the surface of food as it cools to prevent a skin from forming.
A container used for keeping cooked foods warm, usually on a buffet or for catering.
A French term which refers to preparations based on pork or offal, such as sausages, pâtés, cured meats and terrines. In France, ‘charcuterie’ is also the shop selling these products.
A knife technique used for cutting herbs and leaf vegetables into thin strips or ribbons.
A cone-shaped metal strainer with a very fine mesh used for straining stocks, sauces, and other items that need to have a very smooth consistency.
Also known as: China cap
To cut into pieces with a knife or other chopping device.
A pair of thin, tapered sticks held together in one hand and used as eating utensils. They can range from ornate, lacquered models to disposable pine or bamboo versions. Longer chopsticks are used for cooking and are tied together at one end with string so they can be hung or used for serving.
To separate and remove solids from a liquid.
Use by saturating with water and heating, causing steam to evaporate slowly and cook food in its own juices. Used for cooking since ancient times by many cultures.
To cook in water just below the boiling point.
The term for chopping a vegetable coarsely, usually referring to chopped tomatoes.
A heat transfer method where a piece of food is heated through direct contact with a hotter object like a pan.
A technique for preserving meats such as duck, goose or pork that involves cooking the meat in its own fat and storing it in this fat in a covered container. Can refer to the technique or to the preserved meat.
Heat transfer method where food is heated by a moving heat source such as hot air circulated by a fan inside an oven.
Japanese wooden tub in which cooked sushi rice is spread, cut, turned and cooled.
To remove the seeds or tough centers from fruits or vegetables.
To soften a fat, especially butter, by beating it at room temperature.
To cut food into small 1/2- inch cubes.
To preserve meats by drying and salting and/or smoking.
To distribute a solid fat in flour with a pastry blender or two knives until divided evenly into tiny pieces.
To cook by immersing food in hot fat.
To loosen browned pieces from the bottom of a pan by adding a liquid and heating while scraping the pan.
To remove fat from the surface of stews, soups, or stock, usually after cooling so that the fat hardens for easy removal.
Method of preparing food with highly seasoned ingredients.
To cut food in small cubes of uniform size and shape.
To cause a dry substance to pass into solution in a liquid.
A spoonful of soft food such as sour cream or mashed potatoes.
A kitchen tool used for applying gentle heat to delicate preparations such as Hollandaise sauce or melting chocolate. Consists of a flat-bottomed insert that fits into a pan of simmering water.
To sprinkle or coat with flour or other fine substance.
To coat foods such as salad with a sauce. Also, to clean fish, poultry, or game for cooking.
Juices and fats rendered by meat or poultry during cooking.
To pour a liquid such as olive oil or melted chocolate back and forth over food in a fine stream.
A process, usually referring to beef, that adds flavor and tenderizes the meat through enzyme action.
To sprinkle with flour, sugar or another powdery ingredient.
A heavy cooking pot with a tightly fitting lid that is good for braising and making soups or stews.
To remove the fibrous string from a string bean; or, to thinly slice almonds.
To cut into thin slices (shorter than julienne); most often refers to meats, but also applies to fruits and vegetables.
A mixture of two liquids that would ordinarily not mix together, like oil and vinegar. An example of a temporary emulsion is a simple vinaigrette. Mayonnaise is an example of a permanent emulsion, consisting of egg yolks and oil. Hollandaise sauce is another permanent emulsion, consisting of egg yolks and clarified butter.
Some substances, such as lecithin in egg yolks, act as emulsifiers, meaning they help liquids come together and stay together. Lecithin, a fatty substance soluble in both fat and water, will combine with both the egg yolk and the oil or butter, holding the two liquids together.
A food that has been wrapped in pastry dough and baked in the oven. A classic en croute recipe is Beef Wellington, or Boeuf en Croute.
A moist-heat cooking method where the food is enclosed in a packet of parchment paper or foil and cooked in an oven.
To remove the bones from meat or fish. A filet is also the piece of meat or fish after it has been boned.
To lightly break into small pieces.
To drench with a liquor (such as brandy) and ignite.
A cooking range that resembles a griddle but performs differently because of its circular heating element which creates an extremely hot and even cooking surface. Unlike a griddle, pots and pans can be placed directly on the cooking surface.
A clean surface with a thin covering of sifted flour.
To make decorative grooves, usually referring to pastry.
To combine by gently turning one part of mixture over the other, keeping the mixture light.
A device used for grinding or puréeing foods such as soups, sauces, or mashed potatoes. It is shaped like a large inverted cone with a perforated disk at the bottom.
Bone ends cleaned of meat.
To cook by braising; usually applied to fowl or rabbit.
To cook in hot fat. To cook in a fat is called pan-frying or sautéing; to cook in a 1-to-2 inch layer of hot fat is called shallow-fat frying; to cook in a deep layer of hot fat is called deep-fat frying.
To decorate a dish to enhance its appearance and introduce flavor. Examples of common garnishes include parsley, lemon slices, chives, and other herbs.
Grates more finely than standard graters to produce fresh ginger pulp.
To cook with a thin sugar syrup cooked to crack stage; also, to cover with a thin icing.
To rub food against a serrated surface to produce shredded pieces.
To rub the interior surface of a cooking vessel with shortening, oil, or butter to prevent food from sticking to it.
Flat, cast iron cooking plate used over direct heat to cook food.
To cook on a grate over intense heat; also, a piece of cooking equipment where the cooking surface is an open grate with a heat source underneath.
To mechanically reduce food to tiny particles.
hard crack stage
The point at which hot sugar syrup forms a hard, pliable ball when dropped into water.
The leafy top of a strawberry; also, the action of removing it.
A small, long-handled Turkish pot with a round bottom, narrow middle and flared top.
A kitchen tool used for blending soups, sauces and other liquids; essentially a stick with blender blades at the end of it. Useful when blending large amounts of product, which would otherwise require blending in batches in a standard blender.
Also known as:
- Stick blender
- Hand blender
These use an electromagnetic field to heat a cooking vessel while leaving the cooking surface cool to the touch; more energy efficient than either gas or electric cooking.
The process of steeping a substance in water to extract its soluble principles.
IQF (individually quick frozen)
Stands for “individually quick frozen.” Each piece of food is frozen separately from the others so that the end result is not a solid mass of frozen food.
Technique of cutting food into long, thin strips.
String made of a natural product (such as cotton or hemp) so that it doesn’t affect the flavor of the food or melt when heated.
To work dough with the hands or mechanically to develop the gluten in the flour and form a pliable mass.
Slab cake pan measuring 20cm x 30cm, 3cm deep.
A technique for cooking meats where long strips of fat (commonly pork fatback or bacon) are woven through the meat using a larding needle; maintains the moisture of the meat and adds flavor.
To cause to rise, especially by fermentation.
Neither cool nor warm; approximately body temperature.
To make soft by soaking or steeping in a liquid.
A culinary phenomenon that occurs when proteins in meat are heated to temperatures of 310°F or higher, causing them to turn brown, similar to caramelization. Named for French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard.
A hand-operated kitchen tool with adjustable blades for thick to very thin slicing, shredding and cutting into straw-sized sticks.
To flavor pieces of meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables by soaking them in a liquid mixture of seasonings known as a marinade.
Leg and thigh of fowl still connected in a single piece with bones and skin intact.
Dredged with flour and sautéed in butter.
To cut or chop food into extremely small pieces.
To combine ingredients, usually by stirring.
Made from materials that will not contaminate cooking, such as stainless steel, ceramic, or glass.
Another name for veal shin.
To cook uncovered in a frying pan, pouring off fat as it accumulates.
To cook in small amounts of fat.
To boil until partially cooked; to blanch.
To remove the outer skin of a fruit or vegetable.
To remove the peels from vegetables or fruits.
To preserve in brine.
The amount you can hold between your thumb and forefinger.
To remove pits from fruits.
A wooden board with a tapered edge and long handle designed to slide pizzas into the oven.
Also known as: pizza peel
Cooked on a thick hardwood plank.
To soak dried fruits in liquid until swollen.
To cook gently in hot liquid kept just below the boiling point.
A kitchen tool used for pressing cooked potatoes or other soft foods through a perforated screen so that the result resembles grains of rice.
To mash or grind food until completely smooth, usually in a food processor, blender, or food mill.
A tool used to spread and turn sushi rice.
To thicken a liquid and concentrate its flavor by boiling and reducing its volume.
To run cold water over food that has been blanched to stop the cooking process.
To make solid fat into liquid by melting it slowly.
To cook by dry heat in an oven.
To cook and/or brown food in a small amount of fat.
A smooth, rounded ring mold.
To bring to a temperature just below the boiling point.
To bake a food, usually in a casserole dish, with sauce or other liquid.
Slices of meat pounded to make thin and tender.
To make narrow cuts partway through the outer surface of food.
To brown very quickly by intense heat.
To cut or tear in small, long, narrow pieces.
To put dry ingredients through a sieve or sifter.
To cook in liquid just below the boiling point; bubbles form but do not burst on the surface.
To remove fat or other particles from the surface of a liquid during cooking.
At about 235°F, a small amount of sugar syrup dropped into very cold water forms a “soft ball” that does not hold its shape when pressed.
A wire mesh tool which catches bursts of grease from frying foods.
A type of round pan used for making desserts like cheesecakes; consists of a bottom and a side which is removable, allowing for easy removal of the cake from the pan.
To cook food on a rack or in a steamer set over boiling or simmering water in a covered pan.
To extract flavor or other quality from a substance by keeping it in water just below the boiling point.
To simmer slowly in a small amount of liquid for a long time.
To mix ingredients with a circular motion until well blended.
To quickly cook small pieces of food over high heat, stirring constantly.
To cook over low heat in a small amount of fat, usually in a covered pan or pot, to soften them without browning.
Also known as: butter-steam
The section of steel inside the handle of a chef’s knife; helps balance the knife In addition to providing strength.
To combine ingredients with a lifting motion.
To bind the wings or legs of a bird before cooking.
A large, thick stainless-steel needle used to tie loose parts of meat or poultry together with kitchen string.
Bread made without a raising agent.
To beat rapidly to incorporate air and produce expansion, such as with heavy cream.
To beat ingredients with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.
A small tool for scraping off zest.
The outer, colored part of the peel of citrus fruit.