Secrets From Food Critics To Make Your Meal Amazing

November 03, 2016

Secrets From Food Critics To Make Your Meal Amazing


Thanksgiving is the one day you really want to create a culinary masterpiece (no pressure!).  The likelihood of your meal reaching star status goes way up when you keep a few key factors in mind.

Two food critics—James Beard Award-winning food writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl and Minnesota-based Chef Camp co-owner James Norton—share a few tricks that will surely wow your dinner guests.

Go Fresh

Grumdahl believes fresh ingredients are differentiators. “An apple right off the tree tastes infinitely better than one that sat in a grocery store for six months,” she says. In other words, drive the extra mile to the farmers market, or spend the extra dollar on fresh ingredients rather than frozen. The added flavor will be worth it.

Tell a Compelling Story

How you found your ingredients lends a compelling story to your dish, Norton says, so ask the experts at specialty markets for suggestions and facts that you can share around the table. For instance, if you’re looking to make your turkey extra special, seek out a butcher who sells organic, grass-fed poultry and get his or her recommendation for the best way to cook it. Before serving the meal, recount this conversation to your guests. “This not only shows that you’re plugged into good food,” Norton says, “but it also shows you went the extra mile for your guests.”

Use Proper Cooking Equipment

Sometimes nailing a dish is impossible without the appropriate tools. Take a velvety soup, for example. Its flavors may be incredible, but the sensation of its buttery smooth consistency on your tongue is what stays in your memory. As Grumdahl notes, this type of texture likely requires a professional blender, such as a Vitamix®. Likewise, Norton espouses the roasted notes of dishes cooked over a flame: “Adding a fire element, for me, is a way to elevate the meal.” Of course, this calls for cooking-with-fire equipment, such as a grill or smoker.

Create a Pleasing Presentation

Playing up the visual element of a dish is always a good move, Norton says. “Taking care with presentation, whether it’s with gorgeous serving pieces or beautifully sliced meat, can really take things up a notch,” he says. But, he notes, attractive presentation doesn’t always mean going fancy. “A rustic plank or stone may make more of a visual statement.”

And when it comes to plating, arrange food thoughtfully, instead of piling it high. Allow for space between main and side dishes. Arrange sauce into a pretty shape or design. Garnish with herbs. Take a step back and assess your work, as if it were a painting. Then, eat your masterpiece.

 

 

 




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