Meat and other treats

Meat and other treats

Meet experts for the holiday talking about trends for the festive season

From traditional turkey to out-there oyster wellingtons, these inspirational center-pieces will set the seasonal scene and delight your diners.

A time to experiment

Turkey is the traditional go-to main course at this time of year, served in either a western or oriental style. However, the holidays offer an ideal time to experiment, perhaps with different types of glazing, stuffing and accompaniments or sauces. For example, you can replace the rice served with oriental turkey with frikeh. Other birds make great alternatives, such as roast goose, served with apple sauce, or spiced duck, served with plum sauce, especially for more intimate dinners, since they’re smaller. Special joints of meat, from foreribs to sirloin or fillet, are also ideal for festive occasions. A classic slow roast leg of lamb or the more contemporary crown roast of lamb are ideal options. Given that we’re catering to increasingly diverse tastes nowadays, fish or seafood dishes, such as salt-baked whole fish or grilled giant calamari, can make equally impressive centerpieces on a festive table.

Opting for reinvention

As chefs, we’re focused on creating new trends and changing people’s behaviors by encouraging them to try new offerings during the festive season. However, it’s also important that we consider the varied tastes and diverse preferences out there. I suggest reinventing existing recipes, using different ingredients, flavor combinations and cooking techniques, and presenting them in a way that’s suitable for the occasion. Taking the traditional beef wellington and transforming it into an oyster wellington for guests who prefer seafood dishes is one idea. Another key aspect to consider is food waste. We all have a tendency to over-buy at this time of year, throwing away trimmings and leftovers, and preparing too-large portions. It’s worth remembering this and taking steps to avoid it.

KAMIL BOULOOT Head of culinary and operations Middle East Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group

Head of culinary and operations
Middle East Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group

Expansive menus

Every individual country – and sometimes even regions within a country – has a different food culture that’s evident in the dishes created over the holidays. Certain dishes are popular over the festive season around the world, from north to south and east to west, but may well be prepared and cooked in different ways, depending on the location. The food I’d be looking to prepare for a diverse range of guests would include: roast turkey stuffed with chestnuts and apples; salty codfish cooked in various ways; stuffed goose; corn dough tamales stuffed with chicken and wrapped in banana leaves; foie-gras with pear compote and gingerbread crumbs; oysters with condiments; and scallops with orange sauce.

A balancing act

A chef should always study new recipes from different cultures and countries, which is the first step toward providing their customers with a memorable experience. There’s no doubt that the majority of people are looking for tradition during the festive period. However, I’m a firm believer in progression and modernization, while still maintaining a touch of tradition, as a way of giving diners a great experience. Capon magro is one idea, a creative selection of seafood combined, which is served with different traditional dips. I also like to introduce new meat cuts as a change from the more traditional options, which I then cook in a different way and serve with gravy or honey-glazed sauces.

DANIELE CHIARI Culinary manager Royal Protocol of Saudi Arabia

Culinary manager
Royal Protocol of Saudi Arabia

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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