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Jan 13, 2007 08:54 PM

word for "carmelizing" fat?

I was listening to a chef on the radio one day, and he used a term that he said was applicable to fat as carmelizing is to sugar. But I didn't quite catch it (it may have been French).

Anyone know what it is?

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  1. Maybe brunir for browning?

    1. He wasn't referring to Maillard reactions, was he?
      Or "roussir"?

      5 Replies
      1. re: grocerytrekker

        Here's the french version describing Maillard reactions with a few related terms -

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Gee, that will take me forever to read, Melanie. Thanks.

          1. re: grocerytrekker

            Ooh lala! I'm not even trying, just focusing on the diagram. (g) Ruth can explain it to us later.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Ha! Since I don't read French, I looked it up in wikipedia. Melanie, you might be interested to know that one of the examples the gave of Maillard reactions was "wok hei."

              Anyway, whatever he said it was a single word -- I suppose it could have been either brunir or roussir, more probably the latter.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Yeah, i glanced at it, but found the wiki far less interesting.
                I don't read French either, yet the information in Dr. Maillard's language seemed more colorful, golden brown even. Googling on brunir viande vs. roussir viande, you get almost twice as many hits with the latter.

      2. That page doesn't talk about cooking fats per se, the references in it to fats has to do with their incorporation into the resultant carb-protein substances formed by the Maillard reactions. Apart from being unclear about some of the terms, it's pretty specific and fairly technical, and I'm not familiar enough with Maillard reactions in detail, to get it all without doing more background research than I feel like doing on a Sunday morning. ;)

        As for the word, I can't think of one specifically, for whatever that's worth. "Brunir" and "roussir" are more a matter of specificity and/or degree of browning, not different processes.

        They're not where I thought they were on the shelf, but if anyone has a McGee and/or the Corriher books around, they'll surely at least mention such a word, if it really exists. I've heard more than a few "chefs" spout off about nonsense they clearly know little about in an academic sense. (I forget which restaurant, but not long ago I heard a chef from some not-unknown NYC restaurant talking about rinsing potatoes to remove the "gluten" while her audience nodded appreciatively.)

        1. To clarify: it seems to me, maybe incorrectly, that brunir is used more often, as a more general term. If you need to specify degree, you do, as in English (lightly, very dark, etc.). I'm a little fuzzy on it at the moment, but I think "russet" comes from the same root that "roussir" does, and refers to a deep, but not quite dark, reddish brown,

          1. You could use both, yes. Brunir is a more generic word, but roussir is a specific term used commonly by followers of Larousse Gastronomique.

            In classical French cooking, the term "roussir" is used to mean "to cook meat or poultry in hot fat or oil until it takes on a golden brown color. This term is also applied to chopped or sliced onion which is first sweated then cooked until quite dark"