Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sweet and Savory

Sweet and Savory.

"But I thought that 'sweet' was dessert and 'savory' was for dinner?"

In the culinary world, the old adage, "opposites attract" is often true. Discernment is definitely still needed; however, opening up your mind to the possibilities of combining "unlike" flavors can often lead to innovative dishes and flavors.

Just be sure to write down ingredients and measurements. I have been known to create some delicious meals, but unable to recreate because I failed in noting the ingredients/amounts used.


What can I say... when I cook, it is from the heart. I may use a recipe for an idea; however, I cannot help but put my own spin on anything that I serve. It is not 'just food...' it is my avocation and true passion.

A few sweet/savory dishes...

Duck breast with butternut squash puree and white-wine poached pear. Why does this dish work? When cooking the duck, it is essential to allow the duck breast to render the fat and allow the skin to become nice and crispy. I will often cook my duck breast skin-side down on a medium heat. Why? Because duck is a fatty-cut of meat, it does not need oil or butter to cook. Rather, the melted rendered fat from the breast will allow the protein to literally cook itself. I will generally cook duck breast about 80% on the skin, then flip and place in the oven in order to "finish" cooking. This will allow the skin to dry slightly and remain crunchy, as opposed to becoming soggy whilst cooking.

Pairing the crispy-skinned duck breast with a white-wine poached pear and butternut squash puree creates a myriad of flavors that are pleasing to the palate. Since duck is a "gamey" meat, it is strong enough to retain it's own flavor when combined with the sweetness of the white-wine poached pear. In the butternut squash puree, I added a touch of "liquid smoke" when reminds me of fall in Ohio. The subtle smoke aids in tying the entire dish together.

It's the little things in life.

Herb-crusted lamb with Brussels sprouts, onions, shiitake purée and roasted fig compote.

I know... I mention "Brussels sprouts" and how many noses immediately turn away? My friends, there is a far-cry of difference between frozen-microwaved Brussels sprouts and fresh, roasted Brussels sprouts. Trust me... two completely different entities. One of my favorite preparations of Brussels sprouts:

Cut sprouts in half, then season with almond oil, smoked sea salt, juice of 1 lemon, herbs de Provence and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Toss to coat all sides well. Place on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 degrees F. The time to roast is dependant on your preference... the sprouts are finished when tender to a knife cut; however, I will often extend the cooking time in order to allow the sprouts to caramelize and crisp. I love the faux "burned" crisp that releases the natural sugars and gives the Brussels sprouts more of a textured crunch.

The shiitake mushroom puree and roasted fig compote represent another sweet/savory combination to enhance the lamb. Again, lamb is a "strong enough" protein to handle a plethora of paired flavors. Since the shiitake mushroom puree is more of an "earthy" flavor, the sweetness of the roasted fig compote aid in balancing the plate.

See... there is so much more than "just cooking" when one is a chef.


Faux "veggie pasta" with sunny-side up egg and shiitake purée/cilantro oil. You may wonder why chefs always stress the importance of "saving rendered duck fat." Reason being? It is a brilliant oil to be added to enrich a meal... be it veggies, purees, soups, etc. I cut zucchini, carrot and granny smith apples into julienne-strips (we shall go into French cut-techniques another day!), then cooked the carrots and zucchini in rendered duck fat. Once soft, I combined with the granny smith apples (I did not cook the apples, but left raw... keeping a bright "crunch" of sweetness. Shittake mushroom puree and drizzle of cilantro-oil created the "earthy," mild flavors on the plate. A soft, sunny-side up egg provided the perfect "sauce" to marry the dish, as the yolk gently engulfed the veggies/fruit once broken with a fork. An experience in and of itself.

So, ladies and gentlemen... if you have an idea, write it down! Then execute! Dining at restaurants also helps spark whims of inspiration when creating meals... though ultimately YOU are the composer. If a flavor profile does not work, guess what... you learned what not to do. And all too often, it is those "failures" that produce true masterpieces.

"Strength is built by one's failures, not by one's successes." - Coco Chanel


No comments:

Post a Comment