Sides shouldn’t take a back seat at Christmas…they should be right upfront! Done well, they can be exciting, innovative, and even help you maximise your profits.
Mix it up
Instead of serving individual sides, why not serve a mix of vegetables in one bowl? The Wortley Arms near Sheffield serves a mixture of squash, parsnips, carrots, swede and turnip roasted in olive oil and butter, and served with chestnuts.
A citrus flavour
Citrus fruit is great for the season because it adds freshness and brightness to winter vegetables such as roots and cabbage. For something a little different, why not use it to flavour broccoli? It is not an obvious choice for Christmas, and will be a nice surprise for customers. “Instead of boiling it, cut it into little florets and pan-fry from raw,” advises Greg Marchand, founder of Frenchie Covent Garden in London. “This will provide a beautiful caramelised flavour and nice crunchiness. Season it with mandarin/clementine zest.”
Love or loath them, sprouts are the number one festive side so should have a presence on your menu. Here’s how to make them more interesting:
Bacon & chestnuts – “Boil the sprouts for about seven minutes or until tender, remove from the pan and place in iced water,” says Ronald Robson, executive head chef at the Glasshouse, Newcastle upon Tyne. “Once chilled, halve each one and keep to one side. Warm a saucepan, add a knob of butter and some diced bacon and chestnuts. Cook for two minutes, add the sprouts along with a few sprigs of thyme, and season with salt and pepper.”
Kumquat – “Pan-fry the sprouts with sliced kumquat,” says Greg Marchand, founder of Frenchie Covent Garden, London. “Use spices; roast carrots with Vadouvan (a mix of curry and spice from the Pondicherry region in India, which used to be a French colony) and seasoned Bergamot juice.”
Almonds & ventreche – “Barely cook the sprouts, then serve with almonds and ventreche,” says Steve Wilmot, chef-proprietor at Korova, Tufnell Park, London.
Pancetta & almonds – “The combination of adding these to Brussels sprouts can really bring the dish alive,” says Darren Chapman, Nestlé Professional business development chef
Waste not, want not!
Portion control will help you manage your costs this Christmas by keeping food costs in check and reducing the amount of food waste. Unfortunately, sides tend to be the dishes that are left by customers, so why not monitor this over the festivities? If a certain vegetable keeps coming back to the kitchen uneaten, then change it, or if another vegetable returns with half of the quantity eaten then you know you have plated up too much. Instead of serving up all the sides automatically, why not ask the customers if they want them? By communicating with the customer you can find out what they prefer, reduce waste and above all save money!
View here for the recipe Sprouts, Bacon Toasted Macadamias, Apple Sauce & Crispy Sage