Frenched food is food which has been cut in a particular way. The term is used in two different senses, depending on the context. In both cases, the food is cut with a specific cooking technique in mind. The frenching ensures that the food cooks evenly while also looking attractive when it is presented. The intended meaning is also usually clear when one sees the food in question.
In the first sense, frenching refers to cutting food into long, thin strips. This technique is also called a julienne cut. Two classic examples of this type of frenched food include fries and frenched green beans. In both of these instances, the vegetables in question are cut into even sizes, which promotes even cooking and ensures that the food will have optimal flavor. French-fried potatoes are a particular popular food around the world because of their evenly cooked nature, and other frenched foods can look quite attractive on the plate as a garnish.
When a piece of bone-in meat is trimmed to expose the bone, it is also said to have been frenched. Frenching is often used on roasts and chops for aesthetic reasons. Typically, meat will be frenched by a butcher, although it can also be done at home. A common example of this type of frenched food is a crown roast, which is distinguished by a protruding “crown” of bones. Meats can also be frenched in the other sense, cut into long thin strips for cooking.
Frenching of the first type can be done at home, but many cooks prefer to use a mandoline or julienne slicer. Using kitchen tools like these ensures that the cuts are even and perfect. This can be very important when presenting food at a formal event, and it also ensures that the food cooks properly. In the second instance, frenching is done with a sharp knife, although the type of knife varies depending on the cut. It does require skill, however, as the meat needs to be trimmed neatly and efficiently from the bone.
The precise link between French culture and frenched food is somewhat unclear. Historical usage of the term seems to indicate that it was first used in the second sense, to describe a particular way to cut meat. After pommes frites became more popularly known around the world as “French fries,” the term appears to have been adopted to describe a julienne cut. This may be because people began to associate long thin strips of vegetables with French fries.