Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
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7 May 2013 - 9:16 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Butter

French butter is often slightly fermented for an extra depth of flavour. It is essential to many of the traditional sauces, to sauté, for pastry, for baking and of course to spread on crusty French bread.

Speck

Made from the hind pork leg in a similar way to prosciutto, speck is boned before the curing and smoking processes begin. Its smoky flavour is a great addition to slow-cooked dishes like boeuf bourguignon.

Dijon mustard

Dijon mustard is a pale yellow in colour with a creamy, smooth consistency and mild flavour. Dijon mustard is used in sauces, rubbed on roasts and whisked in the classic vinaigrette dressing.

Fleur du Sel

The first white crystals in the salt formation process which began more than 2,700 years ago most famously in the Guérande peninsula in Brittany.

Cheese

France produces the greatest number of cheeses in the world, as well as many of the finest, and it is almost always enjoyed at the end of a meal. The cheese trolley is often regarded as a mark of a restaurant’s quality. You should begin with the mildest in flavour and work your way to the strongest.

French cheeses include:

  • White and red mould (washed rind) – brie de meaux, camembert, livarot and munster
  • Chèvre – cabécou, pouligny saint-pierre, crottin de chavignol
  • Blue vein – Roquefort, fourme d’ambert - Hard cheese – gruyere, beaufort
  • Medium-firm – saint-nectaire, morbier, cantal

Truffle

A finely veined tuber formed in a magical underground exchange by the bonding of its filaments with the roots of certain types of trees, most traditionally oak. Season, climate, soil conditions and an element of great mystery surround the cultivation process, making the truffle a highly prized and expensive ingredient.

Garlic

A key ingredient in the loved Provençal aioli – a garlic mayonnaise.

Brown onions

Brown onions are a key ingredient for many dishes including the famous French onion soup. Look for firm onions with shiny papery skin.

Shallot

Shallot (eschallots) have a cluster of small bulbs with a more delicate and less pungent flavour than other onions.

Champignon de Paris

Button mushrooms used raw in salads and classic dishes, such as boeuf bourguignon.

Turnip

Believed to have first been cultivated in 2000 BC, turnips are picked young when small and sweet at the beginning of summer. The French love them puréed, pan-fried, steamed or classically paired with duck in canard aux navets or lamb navarin.

Celeriac

A variety of celery which is grown for its taproot rather than its stem and leaves. Peeled and then cut in julienne, it is the main ingredient in the classic French remoulade, but can also be cooked and mashed, baked or used in stews and soups.

Herbs

Common herbs in French cooking are flat-leaf parsley, chives, thyme, bay leaves and chervil.

Charcuterie

A collective term meaning “cooked meat” such as rillettes, terrines, pâté, confit and saucisson.

Bread

French bread is made in a myriad of styles and shapes, but most well known is the iconic baguette, a long stick-shaped loaf with a thin golden crust and light interior.