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Friday, December 17, 2010


There are many meanings for the word ‘cartouche’ but in cooking terms it describes a round piece of paper, usually greaseproof (baking paper), waxed or parchment used to cover the surface of a pot.

The placement of a cartouche on the surface of food, under a saucepan lid, keeps the components submerged, reduces evaporation during the cooking process and is vital in the prevention of a skin forming on top of a sauce.


  1. Tear off a large piece of paper from a carton, twice the surface of your pot
  2. With the short end facing you, fold it in half (bottom to top)
  3. Fold in half again, right to left
  4. Fold in half again, right to left
  5. There is now a sharp point at one end
  6. Place the pointed end in the centre of your pan to measure the distance from the centre to the edge and tear or cut off any paper that extends over the edge of the pan.
  7. Unravel and place the circle of paper over the surface of the pan

If the purpose of your cartouche is to keep a skin from forming on top of a sauce, wet the cartouche with water before placing it on the surface of the sauce.

I use foil from time to time too, as illustrated above, but it is not so effective. Paper absorbs water (moisture from the pan) thereby creating a suction giving a better result.

The great juggling act of the year comes into its own at Christmas when practically every saucepan in the kitchen comes into play at the same time. The use of a simple cartouche over a pre-prepared sauce can be a real lifesaver and you’ll be amazed what it does for chicken, stews, casseroles and the like!

Cartouche making - printable version, click here:

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