Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
April 8, 2020

The world is living through unprecedented times and facing a number of daunting challenges, both in personal and professional lives. In times of uncertainty, comfort food naturally takes center stage. People look to gain a sense of control, seeking out food that they know is a sure thing. Restaurants that have remained open for delivery and/or curbside pick-up are looking for the best ways to serve these guest needs.

Of course, meat-centric dishes often spell comfort. Today, chefs are tasked with providing their guests beef, pork and chicken dishes that still showcase culinary creativity but telegraph a comforting, familiar and hearty experience. With that in mind, let’s explore meat-centric menu ideas that translate well for both in-restaurant and at-home environments.

1. BEEF

Brisket is loved by many but rarely cooked at home, making it ideal for a handheld, with pickles and red cabbage to cut through the richness of the meat.

Beef dishes continue to shine on menus, often finding a new balance on the plate, but still playing an integral role in many modern entrées. Opportunities for combining craveable flavors and comfort abound.

Try This

Old School Meatloaf Melt: Meatloaf wedge + white American cheese + caramelized onions + mayonnaise + Texas toast

Mini Meatball Poppers: Cup of mini roasted meatballs (chuck/brisket/short rib blend) + roasted garlic marinara dip

Country-fried Steak Bowls: Chopped chicken-fried steak + mashed potatoes + country gravy

Smoked Brisket Philly Cheese Steak: Slices of smoked brisket + blistered peppers/onions + cheddar cheese sauce + barbecue aïoli + sub roll

2. PORK

Carnitas offer a dose of comfort to consumers and versatility to operators, moving easily from tacos and quesadillas to bowl builds and pasta dishes.

The variety in pork cuts and its ability to morph into most any menu application bodes well for flavor innovation. Look to easy-eating handheld bites, premium comfort favorites and bold appetizers for memorable food delivery.

Try This

Pork Loin Pub Snackers: Thick-sliced and slow-roasted pork loin + havarti cheese + beer-braised onions + grain mustard glaze + mini pretzel roll

Country Ham Mac and Cheese: Hand-carved chunks of smoked country ham + creamy mac and cheese + crispy onion ring topper

Triple Stung Carnitas Quesadilla: Hot honey-glazed carnitas + shredded pepper Jack cheese + banana pepper rings + flour tortilla

Aloha Riblets: Passionfruit barbecue-glazed pork riblets + crushed macadamia nuts + pickled green mango wedges

3. CHICKEN

The warmth of Sunday suppers is delivered through roasted chicken, amped up with culinary technique and signature flavor touches.

Chicken’s lean, familiar and neutral profile provides a blank canvas for flavorful comfort. Fried and roasted techniques should particularly hit the mark here. Operators can find inspiration from re-styled classics, shareable formats and Aussie/English savory pies.

Try This

Fried Chicken Thigh Cordon Bleu: Fried chicken thigh + smoked ham + Swiss cheese + toasted egg bun

Huevos Rancheros Chicken Burrito: Crispy chicken strips + refried beans + scrambled eggs + cheese + ranchero sauce + flour tortilla

Chicken Roaster Family Meal Deal: 8-piece of hot maple/barbecue-rubbed roasted chicken + sweet potato mash + stewed green beans

Rotisserie Chicken Alfredo Pie: Loads of hand pulled chunks of rotisserie chicken + creamy Alfredo sauce + broccoli florets + short crust pastry base/top

About The Author

mm

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 20 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and, currently, owning a consulting company, ATE (All Things Epicurean), focused on flavor, menu and restaurant innovation. Based in Nixa, Mo., he has an energizing passion for food and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. robcorliss@7ate9.biz