What is the French term for caramelized cheese?

10
10
Joined May 1, 2011
Hi everyone, new guy here :)

A chef once told me there is a French term for that delicious caramelized cheese that occurs when you broil or bake something with cheese in it, where the cheese runs off and creates a thin, crunchy layer on the baking sheet, skillet, etc. that everyone always ends up picking off with their fingers and snacking on in the kitchen. He said they consider it a delicacy and actually have a technique for making it on purpose.

Does anyone know what the heck I'm talking about? I want to learn this French wizardry fro myself :)

Cheers!
 
10
10
Joined May 1, 2011
Thanks. When I was googling earlier that kept popping up, but Wikipedia described it as "both a type of cheese and a Swiss and French dish based on this cheese." I was under the impression it was a technique, not a specific type of cheese.

EDIT: Are you sure this is it? Nothing I'm finding comes close to what I was looking for. Maybe the chef I spoke to was misinformed...
 
Last edited:
2,270
206
Joined Oct 2, 2010
The result is called a "gratin" from the french verb "gratiner", which means to crust.

Raclette is a Swiss recipe which consists in melting cheese -layer after layer- from a block of cheese and scrape it off when half-melted. It is then poured over charcuterie, bread, etc.
 
10
10
Joined May 1, 2011
The result is called a "gratin" from the french verb "gratiner", which means to crust.

Raclette is a Swiss recipe which consists in melting cheese -layer after layer- from a block of cheese and scrape it off when half-melted. It is then poured over charcuterie, bread, etc.
Okay, thank you, that sounds closer to what I was looking for. Do you know if they do this with just cheese, i.e. not on top of something else like potatoes?
 
 
2,270
206
Joined Oct 2, 2010
Gratiner can be done with a variation of dishes, many of them will have a béchamel or Mornay sauce as a base. It's also done with sabayon which is an eggsauce so to speak.

You can make a gratin with sprinkling cheese on a preparation, breadcrumbs, or a mixture of both. Or as in the sabayon gratin, nothing at all, the eggmixture gets only a slight color.

Maybe Chef Ed is right. If one is speaking of a cheese-only gratin, you could name it "gratin au fromage".
 
153
14
Joined Jan 31, 2011
I don't know all the fancy terminology, but I make something like this. I heat a skillet (I use stainless), then throw in a handful of shredded cheese. It can be any kind, but I like Mozzarella or Cheddar best. Then you just let it cook until it's all bubbly and you can lift the edge with a spatula. Now, turn it over and cook the other side until it doesn't stick anymore. Take it out of the pan and eat.

This can also be made with slices of cheese, but it cooks more evenly if you use shredded.

Also, you can do it on the flattop if you have one. I don't work in a restaurant anymore, so I don't.

One last thing - you don't have to oil the pan. The cheese will make it's own oil. You can add a little butter for flavor, if you want to, but it isn't necessary.
 
Last edited:
5,192
295
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Was just reading these posts to my better half. She tells me this is a very old word that is not used anymore. It refers to

anything that was scraped from the pan.

What can I say? It's one of her families languages and her degree.

You can disagree through me if you wants to.  I'm not!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
 
Last edited:
5,605
480
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Hi everyone, new guy here :)

A chef once told me there is a French term for that delicious caramelized cheese that occurs when you broil or bake something with cheese in it, where the cheese runs off and creates a thin, crunchy layer on the baking sheet, skillet, etc. that everyone always ends up picking off with their fingers and snacking on in the kitchen. He said they consider it a delicacy and actually have a technique for making it on purpose.

Does anyone know what the heck I'm talking about? I want to learn this French wizardry fro myself :)

Cheers!
Hey waynewalker, French is my first language and I know exactly what you're talking about regarding that thin, crunchy, toasted bubbly cheese crispy layer. I just can't think of a name for it? I know it's neither "Raclette" nor "Gratin", although you could call it "le gratiné" (grah-tee-nay, meaning "the part that is grilled"). This is the kind of stuff where different regions and different families may have different names for that kind of stuff - I just can't think of one good "universal" French name. 

PS: Your description also reminds me of "Parmesan tuiles".. .but I don't think "tuiles" was the word you were after? 
 
Last edited:
5,192
295
Joined Jul 28, 2001
French Fries,

   I'm lovin this. You're going to take on the Mrs.?!!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif

I mentioned to her that you are saying that gratin was not the correct word.

She quietly mumbled something about a French Idiot./img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

Wait, no, she said ideom.

She's hardly awake but says gratin can mean upper class society?

She says look up the French word for scrape. gratter?

OK, I'm lost now. I'll look it up later and get back. I did'nt realize the time.

jeff
 
2,270
206
Joined Oct 2, 2010
...a thin, crunchy layer on the baking sheet, skillet, etc. that everyone always ends up picking off with their fingers and snacking on in the kitchen...
If it's an ovendish with cheese on top, it's called a gratin. Putting a crust on a dish in the oven is called "gratiner". Even a french onion soup with cheese on top that has been melted in the oven is a gratin.

The toplayer of crunchy cheese, also when made in a pan could simply be called a "croûte".
 
5,516
186
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Au Gratin means brown topping. Usually done last under a Salamander. Here in states they sometime mix cheese and buttered crumbs. It is also done in some classical dishes with heavy cream (IE  Filet sole Bonne Femme or Veronigue and it is called A Glassage)
 
5,192
295
Joined Jul 28, 2001
My bad,

I thought the original post was talking about eating those little scraps of dripped cheese.

"* I was excited to learn that, originally, gratin was the word for the browned scraps of food that stick to the bottom and sides of the baking dish, which you have to scrape off, or gratter in French. This historical meaning is no longer in use, but it made perfect sense.

{Pictured above is my gratin dauphinois (potato gratin).}  "" "  
 
Last edited:
5,605
480
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Au Gratin means brown topping. 
In English, maybe - but in French, it doesn't mean anything. Nobody in France says "Au Gratin". You say "Gratin de xxx" where xxx is the ingredient. I wanted to stress this out as the original poster is looking for a French term. 
If it's an ovendish with cheese on top, it's called a gratin. 
Chris, I don't think the original poster is looking for the name of a dish, but the name of a particular PART of a dish: that part of the cheese that melts and pours out from just about anything.. for example a Quesadilla on a baking sheet.. and begins to bubble, brown, and get crispy as it cools off. 
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium  

The toplayer of crunchy cheese, also when made in a pan could simply be called a "croûte".
That could well be the word that the OP is looking for. It's just not a very specific word... it also means the rind of the cheese, the crust on a bread, a scab, pastry dough around an ingredient (as in pâté en croûte), etc.... 
 
Last edited:
5,192
295
Joined Jul 28, 2001
 Um French?

 I'm feeling a little left out. When you were replying to everyone, did you just

overlook my last quote? The Mrs. pulled it  from a French culinary translation site.

  I am going to bet a Shiner that ChrisB was correct with gratin.

I think the  OP's Chef knew this old term.

  Waiting here with my opener,

   pan
 
5,605
480
Joined Sep 5, 2008
 Um French?

 I'm feeling a little left out. When you were replying to everyone, did you just

overlook my last quote? The Mrs. pulled it  from a French culinary translation site.

  I am going to bet a Shiner that ChrisB was correct with gratin.

I think the  OP's Chef knew this old term.

  Waiting here with my opener,

   pan
Sorry Panini, I missed your post!

I had to get to the bottom of this so I went to THE reference when it comes to French language: "Le dictionaire de l'Academie Francaise". And lo and behold, you are correct! Gratin is EXACTLY the word to describe what the OP described - only it is an old word, no longer used, which explains why I'd never heard anyone ever say that in France. Apparently it was used that way in the XVI century. If you look at any current French dictionary, the word "gratin" only means the dish itself, as in gratin Dauphinois. 

You are also correct that the word "gratin" can be used to describe the top of the society (top politicians, athletes, entertainers etc...). 
 
Last edited:
72
12
Joined Apr 4, 2011
This is basically a cheese version of a Rösti!
 
I don't know all the fancy terminology, but I make something like this. I heat a skillet (I use stainless), then throw in a handful of shredded cheese. It can be any kind, but I like Mozzarella or Cheddar best. Then you just let it cook until it's all bubbly and you can lift the edge with a spatula. Now, turn it over and cook the other side until it doesn't stick anymore. Take it out of the pan and eat.

This can also be made with slices of cheese, but it cooks more evenly if you use shredded.

Also, you can do it on the flattop if you have one. I don't work in a restaurant anymore, so I don't.

One last thing - you don't have to oil the pan. The cheese will make it's own oil. You can add a little butter for flavor, if you want to, but it isn't necessary.
 
10
10
Joined May 1, 2011
I don't know all the fancy terminology, but I make something like this. I heat a skillet (I use stainless), then throw in a handful of shredded cheese. It can be any kind, but I like Mozzarella or Cheddar best. Then you just let it cook until it's all bubbly and you can lift the edge with a spatula. Now, turn it over and cook the other side until it doesn't stick anymore. Take it out of the pan and eat.

This can also be made with slices of cheese, but it cooks more evenly if you use shredded.

Also, you can do it on the flattop if you have one. I don't work in a restaurant anymore, so I don't.

One last thing - you don't have to oil the pan. The cheese will make it's own oil. You can add a little butter for flavor, if you want to, but it isn't necessary.
That's exactly the process I'm referring to, thank you! And thank you French Fries and Panini for the impromptu French language lessons! :D

So, French Fries: just to be clear, if Granny Smith presented the above dish to you, what would you call it in French? Also, is it a snack that's actually served in France?

Thanks again!
 
Top Bottom