100 Techniques

Technique #57: Cook en Cocotte for Succulent Meat and Fish

It’s more than a fancy-sounding flourish—this technique will make your meat tender and flavorful. 

Published Sept. 5, 2023.

This is Technique #57 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master

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Peruse a menu in any French bistro and you are likely to encounter the phrase en cocotte, which sounds fancy but simply means “in a casserole.”

This vague term actually has a very specific meaning, and learning this technique will allow you to cook unbelievably tender meat with intense, undiluted flavor.

What Exactly Does En Cocotte Mean?

En cocotte is a French method that involves baking meat, poultry, or seafood at a very low temperature in a covered pot without added liquid. 

The idea is to capture all the natural juices exuded by the protein—the juices that would evaporate in an open roasting pan—and produce food that is succulent, juicy, and very, very flavorful. It’s fantastic for lean cuts like pork loin, fish, and chicken, since the low heat and trapped moisture protect these delicate proteins against overcooking.

How To Cook En Cocotte

The approach is simple: Quickly sear meat or poultry (you can skip searing for fish), sauté a few aromatics in the pot, season the protein and return it to the pot, scatter in a small handful of chopped vegetables, cover tightly, and bake.

This technique has similarities to braising and stewing in that it uses a covered pot, features a low oven temperature, and deploys an extended cooking time to yield tender meat. 

Salmon en cocotte
Salmon en cocotte

Juicy Meat Makes for the Best Cooking Liquid

But the major difference is that when cooking en cocotte, the moist cooking environment is created by only the juices released from the protein—there are no additional liquids such as broth or water. (To capture as much of those juices as possible, cover the pot tightly first with foil and then the lid.) 

Choose a Tender Cut

Unlike braising, where tougher cuts are generally cooked until falling off the bone, cooking en cocotte involves cooking the meat until it is just done. Since this method doesn’t break down as much collagen as braising, it’s important to choose a tender cut. 

Go Low and Slow

In our testing, we found that quite low temperatures—around 250 degrees—yielded the tenderest meat, thanks to that gentle heat and the longer cooking time it necessitates. After cooking, let the protein rest briefly to maximize moisture retention (there’s no need to rest fish). The remaining concentrated cooking liquid and other ingredients left in the pot become a built-in, super-flavorful serving sauce.

Watch Julia Collin-Davison cook turkey en Cocotte in this cook-through video.

Step-by-Step: How To Cook en Cocotte for Succulent Meat and Fish

Cooking en Cocotte will not only give you succulent, tender meat, but also flavorful accompaniments that soak in the moist environment of the meat’s juices. Best of all, it’s a simple technique that requires only a few staple kitchen tools. Follow our step-by-step guide below to learn for yourself.

Step 1: Sear and Cook 

Sear meat or poultry in Dutch oven to brown it (skip searing step for fish). Cook aromatics in oil in Dutch oven until softened and golden.

Step 2: Arrange Bed of Veggies 

Add other ingredients, such as vegetables, to Dutch oven to serve as bed for protein and to catch flavorful juices.

Step 3: Add Protein 

Arrange meat, poultry, or fish in pot.

Step 4: Cover Tightly and Cook

Place large sheet of aluminum foil over pot and press to seal tightly, then cover tightly with lid. Transfer to oven and cook until desired doneness temperature is reached.

Step 5: Serve

Transfer protein to carving board, let rest if directed, then slice and serve.

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Recipes That Use This Technique

Now that you know all about cooking en Cocotte, put your newfound knowledge to the test by making a few of our favorite recipes that use this technique for tender, flavorful meat.


Turkey Breast en Cocotte with Mole

Cooking a turkey breast is a great alternative to tackling the whole bird; it’s easy to handle and full of white meat.
Get the Recipe

Salmon en Cocotte with Leeks and White Wine

Fish is well suited to a variety of preparations, so why not try fish en cocotte?
Get the Recipe

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