Looking for fall inspiration? Look no further. FNA’s resident culinary expert, Corporate Executive Chef Howard Cantor, offers his tips for taking classic fall dishes to the next level.
When I think of fall, I think of warm, rich, soul satisfying meals that are hearty and full of flavor. I think of cassoulet and Texas style chili; I think of roasted butternut squash with garlic cream and a bowl of lentils braised with lamb or even a nice big bowl of home-made pasta with a rich ragu. When fall comes around, I like to think about different types of pot pies, sweet and savory dessert pies and casseroles, lots of casseroles. At Fuchs North America we have taken a step back and looked at these classic dishes steeped in tradition and decided it was time to give them a modern makeover. Welcome to fall classics – with a twist.
When I think of giving something older and rooted in tradition a twist, it’s not always an easy thing. Do you update ingredients with something fresh and new? Do you add a bit of international flair and flavor to an old standby? Maybe it’s just getting rid of some older thought processes in the technique and bringing it up to speed with today’s cooking methods. None of these are wrong, and we will look at all of them starting with updating ingredients.
Let’s take beef stew, an American classic but with origins that date back centuries. It’s all about cooking tough cuts of meats with root vegetables and liquid in a covered vessel over fire. It’s a technique that is as simple as boiling water but can deliver deep rich flavors. I like to make a more “modern” version of this using Korean flavors and ingredients with trimmed cubed chuck roast. The addition of gochujang and some soy sauce during the cooking process and serving it with a side of mung bean sprouts, kimchi and white rice make for a great twist to a classic fall dish.
The word “casserole” actually refers to the name of the cooking vessel that the food is cooked in and often served in, not the food itself. In America we have adapted the word to describe both the dish and the food in the dish itself. In the U.S., casseroles are made up of 3 base components: first is the meat or protein source, second is the vegetable(s) and lastly is a starchy binder like pastas, rice or potatoes. A favorite we created in the Fuchs Kitchen is a BBQ sweet potato casserole. For this we take mashed sweet potatoes, smoked pulled pork and a BBQ seasoning and add it all to a casserole dish. It’s topped with a panko style bread crumb that’s then seasoned with the same base that’s in the potato mixture with cheddar cheese and some butter and baked to perfection. What you have is a balanced blend of salty, sweet, smoky and spicy with a nice crispy topping that is soul satisfying and warming on a fall evening.
My personal fall favorite is a hearty bowl of chili – but not a normal bowl of chili. It is a specialty of New Mexico that I discovered while on a layover in the Albuquerque airport many years ago: pork verde chili. This is a blend of pork shoulder, tomatillos, green chili, spices, charred tomatoes, and time, plenty of time. The pork is seasoned and seared, the tomatillos, green chilies and tomatoes are charred over an open flame, and blended to make a bright, vibrant, slightly spicy base. This combined with the blend of spices, sautéed onions, garlic and the time to reduce and break down the pork shoulder make for a full-flavored twist on a traditional bowl of beef based red chili.
Let us innovate for you. Whether you’re looking to take a classic menu item or flavor to the next level, or want to create something totally new, we’ve got you covered – for fall and beyond. Contact us today to see how we can help you create something special.