Category: Tips (Page 2 of 6)

Al Dente [al DEN-tay]

Italian for “to the tooth.” Al dente food gives only a slight resistance when you bite into it—think pasta or tender-crisp vegetables. No mushy peas please! Using plenty of salt helps to achieve the al dente affect with pasta.

Au Jus [oh zhew]

Did someone say French dip sandwich?? Au jus is French for “with [its own] juice” and describes roasted meats, poultry, or game served with their natural, unthickened juices (sorry—no gravy this time). A natural Jus (the juice) is prepared by skimming the fat from the juices left after cooking. A Jus can also be made by combining the natural juices with another liquid (for example, red wine) and/or additional flavorings.

Au Sec [oh sek]

French for “dry”, au sec in the kitchen means “almost dry.” This term is most often used when making sauces or risotto: a liquid (usually wine or stock) is combined with already cooking ingredients (usually onions, shallots, etc.) and reduced down to the point where it has almost evaporated. Be careful here—“almost dry” can turn to “burnt” very quickly (dry pan, high heat… you get the picture…). The point of au sec is to add FLAVOR. Who can say no to more flavor?


Nothing to do with poets, knights, armor, or horses—at least not in culinary terms. Barding is the process of wrapping pieces of meat or poultry in thin pieces of fat. Meat or poultry that has no natural fat covering tends to dry out quickly during roasting; barding helps protect and moisten the meat and also adds additional flavor. “What? That sounds sort of gross!” you might say… Wait a minute… anything wrapped in BACON has been barded! Satisfied?!?!

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