Word of Mouth: Tournée

published Nov 24, 2008
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Tournée (tour-nay): Literally, French for “turned.” In culinary terms, this describes a specific method for preparing and presenting vegetables by cutting them into uniform oblong shapes.

If you really want to get fancy this Thanksgiving, you can have a go at “turning” all your vegetables! Just make sure you have a lot of extra time to spare before you start…

Starchy vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and parsnips are good candidates for turning. Classically, the vegetable is cut into 2-inch long sections and then whittled into a curved football shape with seven perfectly even surfaces.

The trick is to do this with as few cuts and with as little waste as possible. Believe us, this is much harder than it looks – though practice does make perfect! It helps if you own an actual tourner knife, which is about the size of a paring knife and has a hooked blade to help craft those seven wily surfaces.

Why would anyone ever go through all the trouble of doing this? For one thing, the uniform shape guarantees that the vegetables will cook evenly and at the same rate. Classical chefs also felt that the turned vegetables created a symmetry on the plate that was pleasing to the eye.

What’s your opinion?!

(Image: Flickr member willsong licensed under Creative Commons)