Okay, so I couldn’t decide on just two for today’s post. This is an issue for other letters, too. Sometimes there are just too darn many good ones! So, I whittled “F” terms today to three. Believe me, I could have done more. So let’s get to it! F is for . . .
I must admit, prior to starting this series, I thought florentine merely meant adding spinach to a dish. Turns out it is more complicated than that. Okay, I knew adding florentine to a title meant to prepare it in a way traditionally used in Florence, Italy and its environs.
What I didn’t realize is that florentine means the fish, poultry, or meat would not only be served on a bed of spinach, but it would be covered with Mornay sauce. Or a florentine dish could just have cheese on top that is browned up. (By the way, Mornay is a variation of the Mother Sauce, Béchamel.
Just to muddy the waters more, there is a florentine cookie lacking both spinach and cheese. This cookie is a honey-nut wafer commonly coated with chocolate.
Many of us are fond of fond! Those little browned bits in the bottom of your pan are fond. In fact the word fond in French means “bottom”. I’ll bet you do what I do with fond. I deglaze my pan with beer or wine (you could use water, too) to get up the bits that I add to the sauce I am serving with the meat. Some people only deglaze in order to make clean-up easier. No, no, no! Use that fond.
One could collect fond and freeze the bits to use later in soups to add depth of flavor. (Maybe have a fond bag in the freezer) Fond is a concentrated version of whatever you were cooking.
Now here’s another one of those words where the French use it in more than one way. Fond is also French for “stock”. You can have a white stock (fond blanc), brown stock (fond brun), or a veggie stock (fond de vegetal).
Lucky for us, fricassée has just one meaning: stew, and traditionally a chicken stew (although veal can be used, too). And the traditional fricassée is a white stew.
Fricassées, white stews, do not use braised meats. Cut-up meat is cooked in oil or fat over low heat and is not browned, just cooked partially through (thereby remaining “white”).
The meat is added to the stew liquid to finish cooking. A fricassée is often prepared with a white sauce, thus the name “white stew” stems from two sources.