- Toby Kramer
ADDING “WINTER WARMERS” TO YOUR MENUS
With winter approaching, it’s time to look at your menus. The colder weather ignites a desire for ‘Winter Warmers’, dishes that grab you and hug you with big, bold flavours. These are casserole and stew dishes where all the flavours are cooked together and go from oven to table.
Customers love these nostalgic dishes bursting with great flavour, are keen on price and remind them of mum or grandma’s home cooking. One-pot cooking is very different from traditional cuisine in that the prep is done in advance, with the finishing touches at the end. Prep hard, easy service! One-pot cooking is one of the earliest forms of cookery and is used the world over. The reason is simple; cheap and easy to prepare, work well with cheaper cuts of meat, lots of fresh ingredients and is loved by the whole family. These dishes can be slow-cooked throughout the day and enjoyed when the family get home from work.
When preparing your winter menu, think about dishes that will warm the cockles of your customer’s hearts and make them smile.
Here are some great tips to get you started:
– Use seasonal vegetables that are in abundance and cheap. Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, squash, kale and cabbage are perfect for these dishes.
– Use cuts of meat that benefit from slow cooking, such as chuck steak, lamb shanks, oxtail or chicken thighs.
– Use good quality stock – this will make all the difference to the final dish.
– Be generous with your portions. These are hearty, filling dishes that will satisfy the hungriest customer.
– Use fresh herbs to brighten up the dish and add some extra flavour.
– Let the dish rest before serving, so all the flavours have a chance to develop.
– Serve with crusty bread or dumplings for mopping up all that delicious gravy.
So, get creative and start planning your winter menu. Your customers will thank you for it! There is something very satisfying about chucking all the ingredients into a dish and waiting for the flavours to do their magic, blending into something special.
It’s also great from a caterer’s point of view, delivering a flavourful dish that’s easy to prepare, pre-portioned with less to do during service, little washing up and with a good gross profit. In a restaurant or foodservice setting, it’s a ‘gift that keeps on giving.
Many British regional dishes started life as one-pot winter warmers however some top-tier restaurants are tweaking these recipes to deliver a modern classic.
Think beef cheek with creamy mashed potatoes, or slow-cooked pork belly served with celeriac and apple. The humble casserole is being given the gourmet treatment!
Why not consider adding these to your menu this winter:
Lancashire Hot Pot – traditionally served with pickled red cabbage and Lancashire cheese.
Toad-in-the-Hole – Good quality butchers’ sausages and roasted onion gravy
Fish Pie – Leaser-known cuts of fish work well topped with a good cheddar.
Corned Beef Hash – Slow-cooked salt beef, rich and big in flavour, topped with a poached egg.
Smoked Haddock Kedgeree– British colonials brought this dish back from India, a breakfast dish in Victorian times.
You don’t need to keep it British either. Get adventurous with the deep, smoky, tomato flavour of Spanish Albondigas, the Burgundy classic Coq Au Vin and tomato and chilli baked gnocchi topped with rich smoked Scamozzi – a dish created for Julius Ceasar.