What Are Sucs and Should We Care?

Culinary School Diaries

Culinary School: Week 7 (of 12 weeks)
Last Week's Diary: The Allure of Tomato Seed "Caviar"

The last few weeks of culinary have all been about meat: chicken, pork, duck, beef, veal, and then more chicken. We've used various wet and dry methods of cooking (sometimes mixed), and what the chef keeps emphasizing over and over again in these classes are the importance of sucs.

So what exactly are sucs and should home cooks really care?

In French culinary terminology, sucs are the tiny brown deposits at the bottom of the pot or pan when you're sautéing, searing, or pan-frying something. These brown bits are often associated with meat, but also happen when you cook vegetables, like when you're caramelizing onions. Sucs contain lots of concentrated, deep flavors and are the result of high, controlled heat (but not too high to burn), fat, and a pan with a good amount of room.

You can easily release the sucs from the bottom of a pan through deglazing. The base that is created from the sucs and whatever liquid you're using (stock, wine, spirit) is called fond, which means foundation. Oftentimes in the United States the term "fond" and "sucs" are used interchangeably.

In class, our instructor always wants us to pay attention to the sucs because they are essential for incorporating back into whatever you're making and the key to great flavor. Don't let your sucs burn or your dish will suffer!

This week in culinary school I made the following recipes

Rack of Pork with Braised Lettuce
Chicken Breast Viennese-Style
Lamb Stew with Seasonal Vegetables
Chicken Fricassee with Seasonal Vegetables

Next week we're working with beef, veal, and eggs – stay tuned!

After dreaming about culinary school for the last five years, I finally signed up for a course this summer at the International Culinary Center in New York. The course, "Culinary Techniques," is a three month class that meets two nights a week, and focuses on classic culinary traditions and methods like knife skills, stock-making, classic recipes, and some pastry.

(Image credits: Ariel Knutson)