Belcher Gastronomique

A cheerily unalphabetical dictionary of food terms

Soffritto

Soffritto is an Italian term referring to various incarnations of a base common to a wide variety of Italian dishes. A basic soffritto typically consists of chopped onions, parsley, and carrots or celery fried in olive oil (though butter, or a combination of oil and butter may be used, especially in the North of Italy). Though there are many regional variations, the soffritto is ubiquitous as a first step in the preparation of risotto, marinara and other ragu, soup, and many other dishes.

“Was there ever a dish more misunderstood than spaghetti Bolognese?… Some vague folk memory of the soffritto (the sautéed mix of onion, parsley and carrots and celery that forms the base of almost every Italian pasta sauce) dictated that carrots were usually present, but usually accompanied by all sorts of surprising vegetable additions.”

– Heston Blumenthal, In Search of Perfection, p. 172

January 6, 2010 Posted by | S, So, Sof | , | Leave a comment

Cathepsins

Cathepsins, abbreviated CTS, are a family of proteases (proteolytic enzymes) found in all mammals. Most of these enzymes are activated in the low pH found in lysosomes, (the organelles within cells which contain enzymes).

“At the lower temperature muscle proteins contract and squeeze out water far more slowly, which is crucial to keeping the meat moist. But it also needs to be tenderised, which at this temperature is done by enzymes, particularlycalpains and cathepsins that weaken or break down collagen and other proteins. Calpains stop working at 40°C/105°F, cathepsins at 50°C/120°F, but below these cut-off points, the higher the temperature, the faster they work. Heating the meat slowly means these enzymes can perform their magic for several hours before denaturing, effectively ageing the meat during cooking. The result is the tenderest, tastiest meat imaginable.”

– Heston Blumenthal, In Search of Perfection, p. 166

January 6, 2010 Posted by | c, Ca, Cat | , , , | Leave a comment

Calpains

Calpains are a family of calcium-dependent, non-lysosomal cysteine proteases (proteolytic enzymes) that are expressed ubiquitously in mammols.

“At the lower temperature muscle proteins contract and squeeze out water far more slowly, which is crucial to keeping the meat moist. But it also needs to be tenderised, which at this temperature is done by enzymes, particularly calpains and cathepsins that weaken or break down collagen and other proteins. Calpains stop working at 40°C/105°F, cathepsins at 50°C/120°F, but below these cut-off points, the higher the temperature, the faster they work. Heating the meat slowly means these enzymes can perform their magic for several hours before denaturing, effectively ageing the meat during cooking. The result is the tenderest, tastiest meat imaginable.”

– Heston Blumenthal, In Search of Perfection, p. 166

January 6, 2010 Posted by | c, Ca, Cal | , , , | Leave a comment