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Suprême in French means “supreme,” which in turn means highest in degree or quality in English. In the culinary world, a Supreme refers to a few items or parts that are of the highest quality, namely poultry breasts and citrus fruit segments.

Culinary Uses

Originally a Suprême referred to a Supreme of Poultry (“Supreme de Volaille” in French), which is a skinless, boneless Breast of fowl. The contention was that with the bones and skin removed the Poultry Breast was the highest quality portion of the bird. The term Suprême was used for Chicken (Suprême de Poulet or Chicken Supreme), Duck (Supreme de Canardor Duck Supreme*), Turkey (Suprême de la Dinde  or Turkey Supreme), etc. You also may come across Seafood portion cuts called Supremes of Fish which will be a prime skinless, boneless portion cut carved from a Fish Fillet or Fish Loin.

The act of removing the extraneous pieces of a meat item (bones, ligaments, skin, etc.) became known as “Supreming.” And when a segment of Citrus Fruit was taken down to its most basic portion by removing the skin, the pith, the seeds, etc., it was also called “Supreming,” because the result was thought to be the highest quality part of the fruit. The distinction was that it was called Suprêming a Citrus Fruit. Understandably, the resulting seedless, skinless segments came to be called “Suprêmes” as well.

Today, Suprêming a Citrus Fruit means to remove the skin, pitch, membranes and seeds before separating the fruit into its natural segments. If used as a noun a “Suprême” can mean a wedge of the fruit prepared in this fashion. Smart Kitchen’s exercise on Supreming Citrus can be found by following the link.

The word Supreme, meaning highest quality has also found its way into a few more nooks and crannies of the culinary world. For example there is the rich, white Sauce Suprême. Dishes flavored with a Sauce Suprême can be called a “Supreme of this,” or a “Supreme of that.”  Salmon covered with a Sauce Suprême can correctly be called a Supreme of Salmon two ways, which can lead to some confusion in the kitchen (and on the menu) between the term Suprême” as a Portion Cut and “Supreme” as a Sauce

In the kitchen, a Supreme can also refer to a tall, skinny sorbet dessert glass, or a Dessert served in such a glass dish.