Cartouche – Parchment Paper Lid

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In France, a Dutch oven is called a cocotte which is translated to be a casserole. Some casseroles are made from steel rather than cast iron. Which makes them appear as a pot. A pot that has the same dimensions as a Dutch oven. Oftentimes a casserole is wider than the casserole is tall, which may permit a larger rate of evaporation. When French cooks sweat vegetables in a casserole, they cook them over medium or less than medium heat. People sauté with more than medium heat.

Using a chart on the Maillard reaction*, this means that the French believe that vegetables should be sweat at about 275°F/135°C. I have been cooking Cajun and Creole food. The vegetables are caramelized over higher heat. My food has been sweet, which I have memories of observing. I am suggesting that everyone make a cartouche from parchment paper to sweat their vegetables better by reducing the amount of evaporation (8. The cartouche prohibits moisture from leaving the pan.

Sous vide cooking in a vacuum sealed bag prohibits juices from leaving whatever is inside the bag. There is no evaporation. Sous vide makes food very moist and flavorful. Vegetables cooked using a cartouche are obviously more moist, but do they have more flavor? Sweating vegetables releases the perfume of an aromatic, which increases the flavor! Once the cell walls of the aromatics are soft, the moisture is released which releases the perfume, but the water is trapped below the cartouche. The vegetables continue to be moist. “The cartouche helps keep everything moist and makes the stew reduce a little more slowly.” Sweating makes the vegetables more flavorful. The cartouche keeps the vegetables more moist.

A lid with a casserole causes moisture to condense. Vapor cools on the lid, the vapor changes from a gas to a liquid, and the liquid returns to the body of the casserole by falling from the lid. Without the lid, the liquid would evaporate. Use a temperature gun to determine what settings on your stove to use to sweat vegetables.

Escoffier compares things to flowers and perfume. This is an important idea for culinary artists to know [1][2]. The scientific version is probably less exciting to learn. Jacques Pépin suggests reading the book The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy. I do not currently know if these ideas are in this book, but the ideas in this book may assist someone to have a better conceptual understanding for how flavor works scientifically. The reviews I observed at Amazon do not include any information on the ideas in the book.

Maillard Reaction
Maillard Reaction

* Maillard Reaction. Digital Images From A Video. Top Chef Masters, Season 3: Blinded Me With Science. From: YouTube, (accessed December 10, 2016).

1. “Cartouche,” Wiki, accessed December 17, 2016,

2. “Sweating – How To Sweat Vegetables,” The Reluctant Gourmet, accessed December 17, 2016,

3. Jeni Wright, Eric Treuille: Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques (New York: William Morrow And Company, Inc., 1996), 36, 185.

4. “Ikameshi (Stuffed Squid),” Tastemade, accessed December 30, 2016,


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