18 Kitchen Terms Every Southern Cook Should Know

Whether you're decoding a holiday cookbook or would like to be well-versed in the kitchen, these are the terms you need to know.

If you're a novice in the kitchen, cooking can be rather intimidating. There's the recipe complexity factor, the use of fancy terms, and, let's face it, it's hard to compare to Mama's cooking standards. But don't fret. Cooking can be fun even when a recipe calls for "blanching" and "chiffonade." Instead of googling the answer or throwing in the towel, we gathered and deciphered important kitchen terms to make cooking a little bit easier. Next time Mama asks for help julienning the carrots, you'll know just what to do.

Cooking Words To Know:

  • Blanching: Blanching means to place a vegetable or fruit in boiling water than immediately place it in iced water. This helps clean and brighten the vegetables. We consider this our easy trick for peeling tomatoes and peaches.
  • Charcuterie: Charcuterie boards have grown in popularity and will most likely make an appearance at every event you attend. Although these cheese boards can have a variety of items from crackers, fruit, nuts, and cheese, charcuterie is in fact referring to the meats. Charcuterie is a French word, meaning an assortment of cooked meats such as prosciutto and sausage.
  • Chiffonade: Presentation is key when making a dish. Chiffonade is referring to finely shredded vegetables that are used to garnish a soup or a plate.
  • Julienne: Next time you're in the kitchen with Mama, she might ask you to cut the vegetables julienne. Julienne is a special technique in which you cut the vegetable to look like straws or thin strips.
  • Nap: A dry dish is simply not in a Southerner's vocabulary. Every dish is expected to be well-seasoned and juicy. Nap means to coat food like porkchops, steak, or lamb with a thin layer of sauce.
  • Roux: This is an important term to know during the holiday season when you're asked to make homemade gravy. Roux refers to thickening, when flour and fat are combined together to thicken sauces.
  • Frenching: Meats are best served without the fat and cartilage. Frenching is the process of removing the fat and cartilage from beef or pork rib with a sharp knife.
  • Jeroboam: Calling all wine enthusiasts. This term simply describes an oversized wine bottle that can hold up to three liters.
  • Ort: Ort is what most know as leftovers, something that Southerners almost never have because of Mama's delicious homemade cooking.
  • Vandyke: This term is often seen accompanying fish dishes such as Fish Fry. To vandyke a lemon means to cut it in a zig-zag pattern for a decorative garnish.
  • Sweat: This is a term Southerners know all too well, especially in the blistering hot summer months. But this sweat is much different. To sweat vegetables means to gently heat the greens in some oil, while frequently stirring to have tender veggies.
  • Quadriller: Famously done to Granny's homemade apple pies, quadriller means to create crisscross lines on a dish for an elegant presentation.
  • Mise en place: Mise en place refers to the organization of all the ingredients needed to prepare a dish before you start cooking. Portion out your ingredients into small dishes and arrange them around your work station to stay organized.
  • Meuniere: This is a method where food is lightly floured then sautéed in butter or fried (like our delicious Chicken Picatta).
  • Raclette: Raclette refers to half a wheel of warm cheese that is then visibibly scraped onto your dish to create an ooey-gooey cheesy masterpiece.
  • Bake blind: No blind fold is required for this process. Bake blind refers to baking an empty pie crust or shell without any filling.
  • Planked: Grill masters know this method quite well. Planked simply means to cook on a thick hardwood plank to create a juicy, smoked dish.
  • Knock back: Although Southerners like to knock back a glass of sweet tea, this is something different. Knock back means to press down on bread dough to release excess air pockets.
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