13 Words To Know Before You Try to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

Viktoriia Hnatiuk/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Viktoriia Hnatiuk/iStock via Getty Images Plus

There you are, a half-hour before guests arrive, face-to-face with the tragic implications of not knowing what deglaze means. Does it involve icing? Pottery? That's when you realize: Recipes are not only about how to cook a particular dish. They're about words.

So now, from our friends at Vocabulary.com, here are a baker's dozen (that means 13) of essential recipe jargon collected from Thanksgiving recipes that have appeared in The New York Times.

1. Incorporate

The Definition: "Unite or merge with something already in existence."

Sample sentence: "Add the flour all at once, whisking until incorporated."

2. Douse

The Definition: "Wet thoroughly."

Sample sentence: "You need gravy to lubricate the turkey, moisten the potatoes, douse the stuffing."

3. Submerge

The Definition: put under water

Sample sentence: "It will keep everything submerged and it’s easier to skim the scum; however, it’s not necessary."

4. Knit

The Definition: "Tie or link together."

Sample sentence: "Sour cream knits the dish together perfectly."

5. Heap

The Definition: "Fill to overflow."

Sample sentence: "In a bowl, combine lemon juice and 1 heaping teaspoon salt."

6. Dice

The Definition: "Cut into cubes."

Sample sentence: "Dice, toss in oil and roast at 400 degrees."

7. Intact

The Definition: "Undamaged in any way."

Sample sentence: "Peel onions, leaving root ends intact."

8. Steep

The Definition: "Let sit in a liquid to extract a flavor or to cleanse."

Sample sentence: "Add garlic cloves and set aside to steep."

9. Render

The Definition: "Melt (fat or lard) in order to separate out impurities."

Sample sentence: "The fat renders out of the skin, flavoring the stuffing."

10. Congeal

The Definition: "Become gelatinous."

Sample sentence: "Skim off the fat with a spoon, or put in the refrigerator or freezer until the fat has congealed on top, then remove fat."


The Definition: "Allowing light to pass through diffusely."

Sample sentence: "Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes."

12. Liquid

The Definition: "Tending to flow with little or no tendency to disperse."

Sample sentence: "If all the cranberries pop, the sauce may be too liquid."

13. Aromatic

The Definition: "Having a strong pleasant odor."

Sample sentence: "Add half the beans, half the ginger and half the garlic, and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until beans are heated through and ginger and garlic are softened and aromatic."

To see more Thanksgiving cooking terms and to add them your vocabulary-learning program, the full list is at Vocabulary.com.

Idioms: One or Two?

What’s the Difference Between Soup and Stew?

Tatiana Volgutova/iStock via Getty Images
Tatiana Volgutova/iStock via Getty Images

Whenever there’s even the slightest chill in the air, it's not hard to find yourself daydreaming about tucking into a big bowl of hearty soup or stew. And though either will certainly warm (and fill) you up, they’re not exactly the same.

Soup and stew are both liquid-based dishes that can contain any number of ingredients, including vegetables, meat, fish, starchy foods, and more; in fact, they can actually contain the exact same ingredients. So what sets your trademark beef stew with potatoes, carrots, and peas apart from your best friend’s trademark beef soup with potatoes, carrots and peas? Mainly, the amount of liquid required to make it.

According to The Kitchn, you usually submerge your soup ingredients completely in water or stock, while stews are just barely covered in liquid. Since you use less liquid for stew, it thickens during the cooking process, giving it a gravy-like consistency and making the solid ingredients the focus of the dish. Some recipes even call for flour or a roux (a mixture of fat and flour) to make the stew even thicker. And because stews aren’t as watery as soups, it’s more common to see them served over noodles, rice, or another grain.

The cooking process itself often differs between soups and stews, too: Some soups can be made in as little as 20 minutes, but stews always require more time to, well, stew. This explains why some stew recipes suggest using a slow cooker, while many soups are just made in an uncovered pot on the stove. It might also explain why stew ingredients are often cut larger than those in soups—because they have more time to cook.

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