Although it seems the odds may be against foodservice operators these days, winterizing menus with layered dishes can stack the deck back in your favour.
James Keppy, Corporate Chef for Foodservice for Maple Leaf Foods, wholeheartedly agrees.
“While layered entrées fall into the popular comfort food category, the important note for operators is that they travel well, hold their heat for delivery and can also be prepared and sold unbaked for customers to finish at home.”
With layered dishes like shepherd’s pie, moussaka, biryani, pinon, cassoulet and chilaquiles (or sweet layers like tiramisu, fruit cobblers and parfaits), you can fortify your menu against the bracing storm.
Shuffle your ingredients
Canadian chefs have an amazing hand of ingredients to work with. With a simple shuffle, operators can pack and pile and heap and mound flavours to satisfy their customers’ cravings. Typically prepared in advance with cost-effective ingredients and sometimes even leftovers, layered dishes are convenient for operators yet a comforting and delicious choice for customers.
Comfort and classic mean different things to everyone. Take shepherd’s pie for instance: for some it can only be made with lamb, others only beef, and yet others are enamoured with just the idea of shepherd’s pie – saucy protein on the bottom, vegetable and root vegetable purée on top.
“The great thing about shepherd’s pie and all the other nationalities’ versions is that the ground beef can now be substituted with several equally good options. Where ground lamb was often replaced with ground beef, now we can suggest plant-based LightLife grounds and Field Roast Italian Sausage Crumble to offer flavourful ingredients for a traditional recipe. These can make for a vegetarian or vegan option of your dish and therefore making it available to more customers.”
Remember to go beyond just changing the protein. Vegetable combinations for the middle and unique mashes and purées for the top can elevate your stacked dishes and showcase the talents of your kitchen. Or take your dishes for a spin around the world to dazzle your customers’ tastebuds.
Shepherd’s Pie Variations
|Canadian (Cottage Pie)||Beef||Corn||Masked Yukon Gold Potatoes|
|Vegetarian||Lentils & Mushrooms||Carrots & Peas||Butternut Squash Mash|
|Vegan||LightLife Ground||Zucchini & Carrots||Cauliflower Mash|
|Indian||Chicken & Chickpea||Peppers & Green Beans||Spinach and Potato|
|Tex-Mex||Beef & Black Bean||Corn||Sweet Potato|
|Moroccan||Lamb||Tomatoes, Carrot & Celery||Sweet Potato|
Plant-based is a big deal that’s here to stay. Whatever the reason – health, preference, ethical, religious or environmental – your customers are asking for more options. But, at the same time, they won’t compromise on taste.
The simplest approach is substitution. If up to now you’ve been a protein-centred establishment, take advantage of all the vegetarian options available.
“LightLife and Field Roast products include a varied list of plant-based products to use in your operation.”James Keppy, Corporate Chef for Foodservice for Maple Leaf Foods
Keppy tells us, “LightLife and Field Roast products include a varied list of plant-based products to use in your operation. Grounds, sausage crumble, sausage patties, burgers, non-dairy cheese, hot dogs, pepperoni and chicken nuggets to start.”
Maple Leaf has made it straightforward and can add more plant-based options to your menu way beyond winter comfort foods.
“LightLife grounds look and cook the same as ground beef. They can be used to make meatballs, lasagnas and bolognese as well as allowing chefs to make their own signature dishes.”
Traditional to Plant-Based
- Chicken Biryani → Chickpea Biryani
- Beef or Lamb Moussaka → Lentil Moussaka or LightLife Beef Moussaka
- Pinon → Black Bean Pinon
- Cassoulet → LightLife Sausage Cassoulet
- Chilaquiles → Vegetable Chilaquiles
It’s difficult to know what to expect this winter (not just talking about the weather), but one thing you can do is offer comfort through food using these winter favourites. As Maple Leaf’s Keppy said, no matter where your customers are dining, layered foods travel well for those picking up, are excellent for delivery, and also the option of selling unbaked for customers to bring warmth (and delectable scents) to their own kitchens.
At your table or theirs, play your stacked dishes and stack more of the odds in your favour.
About the Author
Cherie Thompson understands foodservice from field to fork. A B.Sc. in Agriculture and experience in quality control, food science, product development, recipe development/editing, customer service, and teaching as well as owning and operating two independent foodservice operations have given her a unique perspective on the food industry.