In January of 2019, Restaurant Business magazine shared an interesting article, that stated consumer preferences were shifting back to comfort foods, when they dine out. In the food service industry, we are all watching the trends, and keeping up with the latest menu and fusion culinary ideas. But is it possible that consumers are embracing more traditional and nostalgic plates?
The article mentions some research from Technomic’s “Center of the Plate: Beef and Pork” report in 2017. And despite the emergence of trendy alternative meat products, beef and pork remain at the forefront of the definition of comfort food, that diners want to order when they visit their favorite restaurant.
Take out your menu and review it with the objective of identifying options that fit the category of comfort food. How many entrees and appetizers do you offer, that would fulfill that need for your customers? In this article we’ll talk about some perennial comfort foods, and how to add seasonal LTO’s (limited time offers) on delicious comfort food entrees.
What Exactly Qualifies as a Comfort Food?
The best way to start, is to consider meal ideas that closely mimic childhood favorites, or the kind of food your Mom and Dad used to make. Naturally, this varies by region and the ethnic culture of your guests; each country has its own shortlist of traditional comfort food.
Have you seen what a breakout sensation grilled-cheese sandwich establishment are across the United States? Years ago, you might have thought “grilled-cheese… really?” but the concept struck that exact strong chord with customers. And it’s all about comfort food, and the convenience of getting it on-the-go (without making a mess in the kitchen).
When you look at the psychology behind the average restaurant customer, you know that you are providing not just an essential service, but an experience with the food you serve. One that they cannot get at home, given busy schedules or low confidence in the kitchen. From that perspective, the restaurant is the perfect place for anyone to get their ‘comfort food fix’ and enjoy meals that they may not have the time or energy to prepare at home.
Fall and winter are the two prime seasons when restaurant diners seek out comfort foods (but they are popular sellers throughout the year as well). If you are looking at expanding your menu with some new flavors to draw in the crowd seeking those traditional comfort foods, our team at Miami Beef® has six protein rich and healthy suggestions.
Pulled Pork with Cornbread Topping
If you have ever traveled throughout the southern United States, you know that cornbread is a big deal. And there are so many variations, and ways to increase the flavor of this cornbread topping, such as roasted jalapenos for a spicy and satisfying dish.
Pulled pork is a great and economical way to bulk prepare pork meat for a variety of options, including delicious open face sandwiches, meat pies and more. With a rich sauce, the combination of the tender seasoned pork with the starches from the cornbread spell comfort food to a tee! Check out this recipe suggestion from Rachel Ray.
Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken
This recipe is delicious with tender bone-in chicken thighs, and an economical plate that any restaurant can add to their menu. What makes it a comfort food? Keeping the skin on the chicken, and roasting it to perfection in a skillet, where you get the texture and deep flavor of the seasoned skin with notes of fresh lemon flavoring.
The perfect side for this (for Fall and Winter) would be garlic fried greens like Swiss Chard or Kale, and an appetizer salad and some fresh hot buttery rolls. Try this recipe from the “Easy Comfort Food’ gallery on the Food Network.
Beef and Mushroom with Mashed Potatoes
Anytime you add tender beef with mushrooms, and mashed potatoes you have instant comfort food! Slathered with a beef gravy, and topped with some fresh cheddar, it’s not about the visual appeal of the bowl but what is inside it. Food just like mom used to make, and perfect for a fast preparation lunch special weekly. Like this recipe from Taste of Home.
Pork Ragu Over Creamy Polenta
Save this recipe for a rainy or snowy day. Skinless pork shoulder meat is used as the base for the ragu sauce, that features red wine, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Polenta is very easy to prepare and economical, and it compliments any kind of a sauce that has bold flavors like garlic, or spicy grilled peppers.
We loved this recipe from Bon Appetite!
This tops our list of the best comfort food on any menu, any time of the year! Did you know that Miami Beef® provides beef, chicken, turkey, pork and veal Salisbury steak and meatloaf varieties? Some of our premium flavors include Homestyle and Italian, and we offer a complete selection of ground meats, from beef to ultra-premium American Kobe and Wagyu varieties. Can you imagine how your customers would react to a Salisbury steak made from Kobe beef? Now that’s something to try your menu!
If you would like to innovate your own Salisbury steaks and custom seasonings, start with this classic and tasty recipe from Delish.
Beef Macaroni and Cheese
A piping hot bowl of macaroni and cheese? Yes please! But eating an entrée that is comprised only of carbohydrates is probably not appealing to every diner. It is easy to add some extra flavor and nutritional benefit with quality ground beef.
We loved this recipe called “Wayne’s Beef Macaroni and Cheese” featured by celebrity Chef Paula Deen, on The Food Network.
When it comes to creating some delicious comfort food seasonal or perennial menu ideas, stick close to the classic recipes. That is what people are looking for, rather than a creative take on a traditional comfort food. They want that good old-fashioned hardy meal, that leaves them feeling satisfied and one that reminds them of home.